Go Easier on Yourself this Tax Season

By Christine Hill

Tax season. Just the phrase makes most of us cringe. Often the process itself isn’t such a terrible thing, but the mental strain of taking stock of your finances from the entire year can be disheartening. However, the truth is that for the well-prepared mind, tax season is simply the time when Girl Scout cookies are on sale. (Yay Girl Scout cookies!)
So, how can you keep your cool this year? Here are some tips to make taxes as painless as possible.

Do It Early

Most of us don’t even think about taxes until we’re well into the new year. This becomes a problem for several reasons. For one, it makes it harder to distinguish between last year’s events and finances and this year. However, there are many other reasons to get taxes done early.
It can give you a better price if you choose to get your taxes done by a pro. Some establishments offer incentives to people who get their taxes done early. You also have the peace of knowing that you’ll have more attention and focus from a professional before things get too busy and hectic in the office. That means you can get things done faster.
Most of all, getting taxes done early is wonderful because the rest of the time leading up to tax day, you just get to kick back and watch everyone else stress out.

Keep Organized Records

Do you have a glove compartment where you keep random receipts? What do you do with invoices and bills? Do you read the yearly reports that are sent to you from investment brokers and your bank?
Most of us just don’t know what to do with those random papers. We take a glance, and then toss them in a corner, only to pull them out later during a cleaning frenzy, quickly scan them and then toss. This can cause problems when tax season rolls around and you realize that you have to gather important documents from the four corners of the earth.
Get ahead of the game by creating a space for financial documents in your home. Create folders for different categories of documents. This link has more tips for how you can get your financial documents in order to help prepare for tax season.

Put Yourself in the Right State of Mind

One of the worst things about taxes is the mental strain. Thinking about how much we earned and spent over the last year can make us frustrated. Seeing how much of our income is being taken by taxes can be maddening. Handling things that we don’t understand can make us confused and depressed.
Many of us get turned away from the task at hand because we’re too easily discouraged by little complications that come up as we do taxes. However, you can choose to have a less stressful experience doing your taxes by putting yourself in the right frame of mind when you sit down to fill out the forms.
One of the ways that you can do this is by setting aside a specific amount of time, when you don’t have any other obligations and distractions, and telling yourself that you get a treat when you have the job completed (it may sound juvenile, but it really works).
You can also get a hold of your mental state by practicing some simple meditation. When you feel yourself getting frustrated or anxious, close your eyes and start counting the length of your breaths. It’s an instant way to refresh your mind and lower your blood pressure. Even for those of us who never bother with meditation, you can see immediate results from deep-breathing exercises. This link has great guidelines for people who don’t meditate to still get meditation benefits.

Don’t Be Afraid to Call in a Pro

Some of us wouldn’t do taxes any other way, and others of us refuse to hire a pricey service for something we could do ourselves. However, there are plenty of professional sources for filing taxes that are very affordable, and many of them will only take more money when they find ways to keep you from paying as much money to the government.
If your taxes include complicated investments, life changes over the past year, or business accounts, you’re probably best served by a tax professional. Gather together your (very organized) financial records, and set up an appointment… early!


"Time spent with cats is never wasted." ~ Sigmund Freud