Sure, doing taxes can be a drag. But putting off doing your taxes is an even bigger drag on your energy. With some attitude adjustment, you can turn your outlook on filing taxes from dreaded task to personal empowerment and financial fitness.
Procrastination, resentment and even fear—owing money, temptations to cheat, or just facing your own financial irresponsibility—drains positive energy and leaves you feeling disempowered.
Even if you are anticipating a refund, for some people, the whole idea of gathering receipts, accounting and disclosing personal income can be a dreaded chore that’s best avoided until the last possible moment.
But, if you are planning to file your taxes this year, getting started on them now and following these few attitude adjustment tips will help you change your energy from foot dragging to tap dancing through your return in no time.
1. Set a date
If you look at April 15 as a goal to meet—rather than a deadline to dread—you’ll feel more eager to tackle your returns.
Set a date and time to sit down and do your returns and stick to it.
It’s also okay to break down your filing task into smaller parts. Plan one day for simply gathering and adding up your receipts. Another day, study up on the current year’s tax laws to determine your filing status, what forms you need to use, and print them out and build a file.
Finally, set aside a couple of hours to do your actual filing.
Even if you are using a professional tax preparer, he will still need your numbers and records ahead of time.
2. Be prepared
Using organizational tips to keep your papers in order
can help you keep track of your receipts and records. Keeping good records and having them handy when you’re filing will cut your time—and stress—in half.
Also, having your records organized, precise and accessible helps keep you from stressing over deductions you may be missing and reduces anxiety about a possible future audit.
If the IRS has questions, you’ll have your receipts ready to show.
3. File early
Get your taxes out of the way as early as possible. The more ahead you are the more energized you’ll feel. The closer to the filing deadline you come, the higher your stress level will be.
Some people think they need deadlines to motivate them. But, even if you are a deadline junkie, your brain is perceiving the sustained threat and will play havoc on your nervous system and hormones.
4.Take your time
This is your money and a reflection of all the energy you put into earning your income last year. So, in the spirit of the "measure twice, cut once," builder’s adage, slow down to save having to repeat something later.
Read over your filing instructions, tax laws and allowable deductions carefully.
This is no time to get distracted. If you multi-task or speed through your tax return instructions, or hastily add up receipts, you could be missing out on big savings with allowable deductions.
Sticking with a task reduces stress two ways: You’re less likely to make mistakes and you’ll also finish faster. Both offer peace of mind.
6. Stay in the race until the finish line
Sometimes, filing taxes can seem like a competitive sport. So, treat it as such and train well, rest up and go for peak performance.
Taking a short break every hour will help your body to reduce stress by staying loose. Stand up, stretch, get a cup of tea, go for a walk, or just take some deep breaths.
Relax a while, then get back to it with refreshed energy.
7. Don’t panic
Even if you owe, or don’t have the money to pay, you’ll have less stress if you contact your revenue office to file for an extension or make payment arrangements sooner than later.
8. Ask for help
If you need help figuring it all out, there are several websites designed to help taxpayers through the maze of tax returns, most for little or no money if you meet certain income requirements.
Check the IRS free-file
page for more information.
If you are a veteran or are on active military duty, many military installations offer free tax filing and preparation assistance. Contact your local base information officer to see if your post has an IRS Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Or, it may be worth it to you to pay a professional tax preparer.
Having a competent and experienced tax professional who knows the latest laws will greatly reduce your stress. But your tax preparer will still need all your paperwork and information.
Being organized ahead of time will greatly reduce time and cost of professional services.
9. Check your work and make copies
Check your work before hitting send or dropping it into the mail.
Once you’ve completed your tax forms, take a big, deep breath and double check that you’ve included everything, reconciled your numbers, taken every deduction you’re entitled to, signed your forms and so forth.
If you take this extra step you’ll avoid the stress of second guessing yourself later.
10. Reward yourself
When you have finished filing your return, reward yourself. Whether you owed money or are getting a refund, just the fact that you stayed on task makes you an energy winner!
Give yourself a treat—get a massage, take a day off to do absolutely nothing or celebrate with a Netflix marathon.
The important thing is, come April 15, you can breathe a big sigh of relief that your obligations have been met. Then, with all that free space in your head, think of something fun to do with your time and energy on tax day.
By following these steps, or even just a few of them, you can deduct huge amounts of stress, and get a great big energy refund this tax season.