Tackling Your Taxes

Let’s face it. Tax time is no fun. It can also be stressful. Perhaps this explains why 33% of Americans typically wait until the last minute to file their annual income taxes. However, tax season doesn’t have to be a dreadful, stressful time. So let’s look at how to make tackling tax time more manageable and (relatively) stress-free.

Stress Less

Financial issues have long been a source of stress for many people, and tax time makes this stress even more pronounced. Not only might you owe some additional money to the government, but there is also a clock ticking and some uncomfortable financial penalties if you are late. Use these tips to help reduce stress and anxiety the next time you have to file your taxes:

  • Break the tax filing job up into smaller tasks so you can complete your filing over time
  • Start early to avoid a stressful time crunch near the tax filing deadline
  • Use tax software to guide you and help keep you on track with helpful email reminders
  • Consider hiring a tax professional to handle your filing while you enjoy a fun, relaxing activity instead

Buy More Time

If the looming tax deadline is just too much to take, you can elect to file later and buy yourself more time. First, however, there are a couple of rules to follow:

Individual tax filers at any income level can request an extension until October 15 to file their federal income taxes. However, an extension to file does not give you an extension to pay. If you owe taxes, the IRS expects you to pay some or all of those taxes when you file. Requesting extra time is easy. You can file for an extension electronically using IRS Free File and following the online instructions. When you file an extension, you can pay taxes owed through the IRS website.

If you have time to file but need time to gather enough cash to pay your tax bill, the IRS also allows qualified taxpayers to pay over time. A setup fee may apply, and you must pay accrued interest and penalties. Still, this option will let you spread your tax payments over several months or even years. Apply online for a payment plan with the IRS to see if you qualify and to request a payment schedule.

Get Ready to Be Ready

Before the next tax season rolls around, there are some steps you can take to help make tax filing easier in the future.

  • Organize your records so you can easily find them. For example, many people scan or take photos of important tax documents as soon as they receive them and file them electronically using Dropbox or similar apps.
  • Run a W-4 withholding estimator to adjust your payroll withholdings and avoid future tax bill surprises at filing time.
  • Once tax season starts again, many accountants or services may be too busy to take on new clients. So, if you hire an accountant or tax preparer, conduct your search and decide well before next January.

Feel More Relaxed and Less Taxed

Although death and taxes are inevitable, according to an old saying, no one says that filing your taxes always has to be stressful and unpleasant. However, with a bit of pre-planning and some thoughtful organization, you can make your tax filing efforts simpler and much less hectic in the future. So take some time to review these tips, select a couple that works for you, and become better prepared to tackle your taxes.

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