Tax season can be very stressful. Days are filled with time-consuming tasks like compiling financial information and trudging through various tax forms. Perhaps more than ever, it’s important to relax, especially considering that stress can contribute to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
There’s no reason to let something like tax stress become burdensome on your health.
The four activities below can help you feel less stressed during tax season, which ultimately can make dealing with tax stress and life in general much easier:
1. Write Down Your Thoughts
A great way to combat stress is to write. The concept of a stress journal works for some, as it helps people learn about their stress patterns. By chronicling stressful events over a period of one to two weeks, as well as your reaction and coping response to them, you can gain further insight into how you deal best with certain stressful scenarios.
Regarding tax season, writing down the various struggles and anxieties surrounding tax stress can be a great way to counter this anxiety. It can help you hone in on what’s really stressing you out. If the stress is limited to taxes, then you can take solace in knowing that filing your taxes will remove most of the stress.
If it’s something else entirely bothering you, writing it down can help you prioritize. If it’s truly important, maybe it should be ahead of taxes.
2. Know Payment Plans Are a Real Thing
Many people worry frantically about messing up their taxes. While tax fraud is certainly a crime, the IRS generally won’t go after you for minimal discrepancies that result from mistakes. Stop picturing yourself in a jail cell over forgetting a minor detail to your taxes. Intentionally trying to fraud the IRS is different than misunderstanding a deductible. In fact, the number of taxpayers convicted each year of tax crimes typically falls below 2,000, with the IRS reporting that only 6.8% of deductions filed are false.
Similarly, don’t fret too much about not being able to pay your taxes on Tax Day. There are always payment plans to consider. The IRS offers an installment plan for many, with no extra charge if you can pay off your balance within 120 days. If you owe less than $10,000, there’s no specific minimum payment monthly as long as you pay off your balance within three years.
So, relax and realize that, even if you do owe the IRS a hefty sum, there are ways to pay it out that mesh with your income and schedule. File your taxes honestly, and there should be no reason to encounter tax stress.
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3. Don’t Procrastinate
It may be easier said than done, but it’s important to avoid procrastination. This is especially true with taxes, as not paying them on time can result in fines up to 25%. If paperwork is the delay, consider filing IRS Form 4868 for an extension, which will give you six months.
If you’re so stressed about completing all the paperwork in time, filling out this form can remedy that tax stress. Just make sure to still pay what you expect to owe or close to it. Late fees could still apply otherwise.
To avoid tax stress, keep track of all relevant finances from January onward. Keep a spreadsheet readily available to account for potential deductions and expenses. This can make filing for taxes a lot more stress-free next year.
4. Consult With a Tax Expert
If your tax-related fears are related to being uncertain about filling them out correctly, it can be worth the money to hire a tax expert. A seasoned accountant may save you money in the long-term, as they may be able to identify deductibles and ensure paperwork is being filed in a timely manner. If you suffer from math anxiety, hiring an accountant to do the work for you can save a lot of stress.
These four methods work great in alleviating tax stress and preparing you better for next year’s taxes by avoiding procrastination, recognizing the value of payment plans, keeping a stress journal and consulting a tax expert if necessary.
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