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Reducing Tax Season Stress

Tax Stress Need Not Be a Given

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Updated June 30, 2012

Reducing Tax Season Stress

Tax time often causes financial stress. ©iStockphoto.com

People like to quip that the only two givens in life are death and taxes, and it goes without saying that stress is a big part of both. This is understandable, at least as far as taxes are concerned:

  • Financial stress is a big cause of overall stress and even health and relationship problems. Financial stress is linked to health problems like depression and decreased immunity, and a leading cause of divorce!

  • People don’t always know how to correctly do taxes, but there are big penalties for not doing them. This makes the whole process seem scary.

  • There’s always the threat of an audit, which is an even bigger source of stress!

Fortunately, taxes don’t have to be a major source of stress. (Really!) Here are some steps you can take to minimize tax stress for now and the future:

Know What You’re Doing

If you understand the process, doing your taxes is much easier. There are even some online resources that can help make the whole process much easier. The following can help make the process of doing your taxes easier to understand and more streamlined: Tips on Filing Your Taxes.

Start Early

Don’t save doing your taxes until the last minute. That only multiplies the stress you’ll feel! Set yourself a deadline for getting things done that’s at least a week or two earlier than your actual deadline. Even if you’re using a C.P.A., try having your portion of the work prepared before your C.P.A. needs it. The sooner you get it done, the less time you spend with the thought of taxes occupying your mind.

Take Baby Steps

If your tax situation is complicated, it might be best to break up the job into smaller parts, and tackle a little bit each night over the course of a week rather than taking up a whole chunk of a weekend day. So, unless you’re the type who needs some serious pressure to stay motivated to reach a goal, I recommend that you set a schedule for yourself and work for either a set amount of time or tackle a specific part of the job each night until it’s done.

Make It Fun

You don’t need to be working in a ‘library’ environment; you can set a fun mood in your workspace and the job may be more enjoyable. Put on some nice background music, put out some aromatherapy candles, prepare some snacks, and just do it. You’ll still be doing taxes, but it can be a more sensual, relaxed experience.

Reward Yourself:

Once you’ve completed what you need to do for your taxes, reward yourself for a job well done by doing something you enjoy, or trying something new. I suggest going dancing, seeing a funny movie, visiting the batting cages, getting ice cream or trying one of these 25 stress relievers.

Professional Help

Unless your tax situation is very simple, you might want to reduce the stress of taxes by using a C.P.A. to prepare your taxes. While this doesn’t completely eliminate the work you need to do, it does reduce stress by minimizing your workload, and it’s reassuring to have someone who knows exactly what they’re doing in charge of the process. Depending on your situation, the expense of going with a C.P.A. may be offset or completely eclipsed by the money you save in deductions they can recommend and you may have missed. Here’s an article on choosing an accountant, and these are the documents you should bring to a C.P.A.

Minimizing Next Year’s Stress:

If you maintain an organized system for keeping track of your tax records as they accrue throughout the year, you can make next year’s tax preparation process much easier. You may even experience less stress throughout the year knowing how much easier you’ll be making things for yourself. (Who knows; maybe you’ll be looking forward to tax time next year!) The following resources can help you:
7 Ways to Make Record Management Easier

Tax Documents You Need To Save

Tax Time at About.com

Keeping these tips in mind should reduce the overall stress you experience during tax time. For additional help with stress management, subscribe to the FREE Weekly Newsletter and see the resources below.

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