Well, tax season is back. If your hands sweat just thinking about it, then you might need a plan to relieve the anxiety of tax time. Even the most organized of us may fear having to pay more, and not having the cash. Others fret they’ll be audited for some tiny error, pay huge penalties for the rest of their lives, or be totally squashed under the wrath of the IRS.
Take a few deep breaths, and take a look at what worries you most. Rather than succumb to some vague sense of doom, ask yourself what actually worries you about filing your taxes, and be realistic about the chances that the sky will really fall. When you identify one or two issues that worry you the most, then you can take steps to relieve your anxiety by resolving potential problems before you file.
Get organized a little at a time. If you’ve been carefully recording all your tax deductible expenses all year, give yourself a gold star. But even then, little receipts have a way of disappearing, and there are always forms that all seem to arrive at different times, and can get misplaced before you go to use them.
On the other hand, your paperwork may be scattered all over your house. Not to worry. Just gather what you can find, a little every day, until you have a few nice bunches of what you need. Piles, folders, shoeboxes, whatever works… seeing your organization grow will help you feel more confident that you can succeed.
Don’t put it off. Any stress you have now about your taxes will only expand as filing time gets closer. The longer you spend putting it off, the more time you have to worry. So why not save yourself the extra headaches, and just get it done.
Remember, mistakes are fixable. If you file and then discover something you missed, all is not lost. You can file an amended return, letting the IRS know you found a mistake, and paying any extra taxes you owe. There might be an interest penalty, but since they are calculated over time, a quick amended return can save you from further anxiety as well as any sort of hefty fine.
Money paid to a tax pro is less expensive than time being sick. Many people have found that tax software takes a lot of their worry away. But if the anxiety of tax time makes you worry yourself sick, you may need more serious help. There are thousands of kind and competent tax professionals out there whose life work it is to help you. Find someone certified, who you are comfortable working with. A good tax preparer will be gracious enough to sift through your shoe boxes of receipts, and can guide you through the IRS maze of regulations unscathed.
Extreme stress over your taxes may not manifest itself right away. But when added to your every day stress, the result of unrelieved anxiety can impact your health later on. Hiring a pro removes the worry about doing your taxes correctly, and if the TV ads are right, it might even bring you a bigger refund than you could find on your own.
Be realistic about your chances of an audit. We have all heard enough horror stories about the IRS to picture them just waiting to grab any tax payer who comes their way. But our chances of being audited depend a great deal on how much we earn and what sort of deductions we choose to take.
If you make a mint, have offshore bank accounts and try to deduct a yacht for business, then you might as well plan now for a little visit from the Feds. But if you earn an average salary, deduct your mortgage and reasonable charity contributions, the IRS has little reason to try and track you down. Honestly, they probably don’t even have the time.
If you use an accountant, or even tax software, they should give you a realistic estimate of your audit risk. Just knowing you have a low chance of an audit could relieve a lot of tax anxiety that you may carry about all year.
Take some more deep breaths, and relax. You can get through this, and you will be fine. Tax time doesn’t have to be stressful. You just need to have a plan.
If you found this article helpful, please comment below, and share with your social media friends.