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Making Taxes Less Taxing

Apr 5, 2008
April 15th can be the most stressful day of the year for many Americans. The date when federal taxes are due can strike fear into the hearts of the most serious taxpayers. Writing that yearly check to Uncle Sam can be quite distressing, especially if we find we owe more than we thought we would.

What can be especially troubling is that the stress can stay with us, year in and year out. However, 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. On the other hand, it may happen when our W-2 form comes across our desk at work. It may happen when we hear about tax season on television. Even getting our yearly interest statement from our bank might be enough to put us over the edge.

We may know some people who seem completely relaxed when tax time comes around. It seems that they have everything in order, and they have little with to be concerned. For such people, tax day seems to be a virtually stress-free experience. We will find them whistling through the hallways at work' while we are hunched over our calculator, wondering whether we can pay our tax bill.

We need to realize that we can handle the stress of tax season without going ballistic. However, this means that we must be pro-active when it comes to handling our taxes. A little bit of planning can go a long way to reducing our taxes and our stress level.

To begin with, it could help us immeasurably if we seek the services of a financial planner. He or she can help us to take control of our finances, which can reduce our stress level considerably. In addition, the financial planner can help us to employ certain strategies, which will enable us to reduce our tax bill.

Next, we have to seriously consider whether it will do us any good to do our taxes ourselves. While figuring out our own tax bill can give us a feeling of control, it can also increase our stress level tremendously. Therefore, we might seriously consider hiring a tax accountant to handle the stress of our taxes. While such a move will not eliminate our stress, it can seriously reduce it.

Keeping folders of all the documents we need for filing our taxes can also lessen our stress. If we keep the folders current throughout the year, we will not be in a mad rush at tax time to find the papers we need to file our return. We 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, we might also consider a hope chest, an end table, or a desk drawer. In addition, be sure to keep all our records for at least three years in case a question arises about our return later on.

Another strategy for reducing our stress is putting an end to procrastination. While it might be tempting to wait until the last minute to file our taxes, it only increases our stress level. If we file our taxes long before the due date, we can rest easy when April 15th comes around. We might be amazed at how much easier it is to deal with tax season when we have done some advanced planning. If we find ourselves facing a large tax bill, chances are we will feel stress, no matter what time we file. Therefore, we might consider opening a savings account specifically earmarked for taxes. This way, we can save for tax day throughout the year.

Another option is to increase our withholding on our weekly paycheck so that we do not 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 we take a few pro-active steps, we can significantly reduce tax-related stress. It may be hard at first to break old habits. However, once we do, we might be amazed at how relaxed we feel when April 15th comes around.
About the Author
Molly Winters-Hughes is a marketing consultant for TaxEngine.com. TaxEngine.com is an online tax preparation website. For more information about TaxEngine, visit www.TaxEngine.com.
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