Taxing Your Brain?
So it’s tax time again and you’re scrambling to find receipts, expense reports and invoices. For those who are filing for the first time, you may be scouring the Internet in hopes of finding an easy tax preparation strategy or a list of big-ticket tax write-offs. Whether it’s your first time or you are a seasoned filer, the stress doesn’t seem to dissipate. The American Psychological Association states money is the top source of stress among adults; and for the majority of people, money stress is triggered by filing taxes. This stress can cause us to feel anxious, nervous or even snappy as tax-time draws closer. If you’re feeling the mounting pressure of filing taxes, you aren’t alone. Below are some of the reasons why income tax season causes so much stress and tips for having the best psychological returns possible.
Why Does Tax Time Cause So Much Stress?
First, income tax season is the most dreaded time of the year for the average working adult. Headaches, heart palpitations, and anxiety plague many people as they worry about their tax returns. Looming fears of not knowing whether you’ve calculated your return correctly, the possibility of penalties, or frustration from simple math errors is enough to make some people obsess over filing. So they keep revising their tax forms over and over before they are satisfied with the result. This kind of obsessive behavior causes even more stress and anxiety and can lead to procrastination.
The second reason why taxes cause so much stress is the fear of not having your forms in time. Those who are employed at a regular 9 to 5 job may not have received their W2 forms yet. A guesstimate isn’t acceptable when filing, so you must have your W2 forms to properly fill out your income tax papers. Those who are self-employed receive 1099 forms that should be postmarked January 31. Self-employed individuals rely on these 1099 forms for accuracy in filing, especially if there is more than one client.
Lastly, one top reason for stress caused by filing taxes is fear that the return will not be big enough to support any existing or future financial needs. This stress mainly affects unmarried individuals without dependents since they are presented with limited tax breaks.
Four Simple Solutions to Get Your Tax Stress Under Control
Below are four simple solutions to manage tax time anxiety and stress, all of which are easy to implement.
1. Don’t procrastinate – If you’ve not received your tax documents by now, contact your employer or clients to locate the forms. Also, the sooner you get your taxes done the more relief you’ll have in the end.
2. Consult the experts – If you’re not sure how to file your taxes, or whether you are qualified for certain credits, visit the IRS website. Their website is full of helpful tips for those who are new to filing income taxes. Paying a pro to do the work for you is also money well-invested—and may be a tax-deductible expense for you next year!
3. Don’t sweat it – If you don’t have enough money to pay your full income tax bill, ask for a payment plan. You won’t be along. You may be charged a fee for this, but to some, it’s worth it to keep your sanity. You’ll have a predictable plan and you can stop playing a shell game with credit cards and your tax refund.
4. Extend it – Although getting your taxes done early relieves a great amount of stress, this isn’t always possible. If you feel you’re unable to file your income taxes on time, ask for an extension before the tax deadline approaches. You’d be surprised to find that many people do this, particularly when life throws them a curveball close to tax day.
It isn’t always easy to completely eliminate tax-time stress, but with a little practice you can greatly reduce it.