Making Taxes Less Taxing
For many Americans, April 15th is the most stressful day of the year. The date when federal taxes are due can strike fear into the hearts of the most stoic taxpayers. Writing that yearly check to Uncle Sam can be quite distressing, especially if you find you owe more than you thought you would. What can be especially troubling is that the stress can stay with you, year in and year out.
But for many people, the stress begins long before the filing deadline. It may occur as early as December when the tax forms first arrive in the mail. Or it may happen when your W-2 form comes across your desk at work. It may happen when you hear about tax season on television. Even getting your yearly interest statement from your bank might be enough to put you over the edge.
You may know some people who seem completely relaxed when tax time rolls around. It seems that they have everything in order, and they have little to worry about. For such people, tax day seems to be a virtually stress-free experience. You’ll find them whistling through the hallways at work—while you’re hunched over your calculator, wondering whether you can pay your tax bill.
You need to realize that you can handle the stress of tax season without going ballistic. However, this means that you must be pro-active when it comes to handling your taxes. A little bit of planning can go a long way to reducing your taxes—and your stress level.
To begin with, it could help you immeasurably if you seek the services of a financial planner. He or she can help you to take control of your finances, which can reduce your stress level considerably. Also, the financial planner can help you to employ certain strategies which will enable you to reduce your tax bill.
Next, you have to seriously consider whether it will do you any good to do your taxes yourself. While figuring out your own tax bill can give you a feeling of control, it can also increase your stress level tremendously. Therefore, you might seriously consider hiring a tax accountant to handle the stress of your taxes. While such a move will not eliminate your stress entirely, it can seriously reduce it.
Keeping folders of all the documents you need for filing your taxes can also lessen your stress. If you keep the folders current throughout the year, you will not be in a mad rush at tax time to find the papers you need to file your return. You might consider color-coding the folders for easy reference.
Also, keep the folders in a central location. While a filing cabinet might be the best solution, you might also consider a hope chest, an end table, or a desk drawer. And be sure to keep all your records for at least three years in case a question arises about your return later on.
Another strategy for reducing your stress is putting an end to procrastination. While it might be tempting to wait until the last minute to file your taxes, it only increases your stress level. If you file your taxes long before the due date, you can rest easy when April 15th rolls around. You might be amazed at how much easier it is to deal with tax season when you’ve done some advanced planning.
If you find yourself facing a large tax bill, chances are you will feel stress, no matter what time you file. Therefore, you might consider opening a savings account specifically earmarked for taxes. This way, you can save for tax day throughout the year. Another option is to increase your withholding on your weekly paycheck so that you don’t have such a huge bill to pay at the end of the tax year.
There is no reason to become overly stressed over taxes. They are a natural part of American life, the means by which the government is able to function. If you take a few pro-active steps, you can significantly reduce tax-related stress. It may be hard at first to break old habits. However, once you do, you might be amazed at how relaxed you feel when April 15th rolls around.