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Blog > 7 Steps to Beat Tax Procrastination

7 Steps to Beat Tax Procrastination

Eliminate unnecessary stress
7 Steps to Beat Tax Procrastination Laptop and Tax forms

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Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If you’ve been delaying the inevitable by waiting to file your taxes until the last minute, you’re not alone. Many professionals struggle with procrastination, which keeps them from tackling their responsibilities swiftly.

If you can overcome procrastination around filing your taxes now, you can prevent immense stress later. Since you can’t avoid taxes, here are seven steps to beat tax procrastination.

1. Understand Your Procrastination

You can’t solve a problem without knowing the source of the problem. So, what’s causing your procrastination?

People procrastinate to avoid a painful situation (in this case, the pain of filing taxes). This works for a while, until the stress of avoidance quickly becomes worse than the pain of completing your taxes. If you had finished the taxes sooner, you would have eliminated the stress immediately rather than prolonging and increasing it.

2. Find Motivation

Hack your motivation by tapping into your fundamental drivers: pain and pleasure. If you fail to file your taxes, for example, you could experience the pain of late fees. To motivate yourself to file your taxes, tap into pleasure, not pain. If you expect to receive a tax return, imagine what it would be like to possess that extra cash. Even if you have to pay taxes, consider yourself lucky to have had income opportunities.

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3. Remove Distractions

Make a plan to stay focused on your taxes. When you encounter distractions, keep your eyes on the plan to stay on course. Set aside time when you’re not working to clear the clutter from your desk, eliminate excessive noise from your environment, and tend to any pressing messages that might bother you while you’re working.

Your body can also distract you. Prepare to file your taxes by getting adequate sleep, eating a nutritious meal, staying hydrated, and exercising to optimize your energy.

4. Prep Your Materials

Come prepared. This will make the entire process much less stressful, and you won’t be left rushing around looking for that 1099 that you received in the mail months ago and just left lying somewhere in the house.

According to TaxSlayer, you’ll need to compile the following documents:

  • Identification for everyone included on your tax return (social security or tax ID numbers, plus dates of birth)
  • Form W-2 wage and tax statements
  • Bank or financial institution statements
  • Last year’s state refund amount
  • Any and all 1099s
  • Notice 6419 (if you have dependents)
  • Self-employment and business records (if you have a business, these include business expense records, quarterly estimated tax payment receipts, home office expense records, and mileage records)
  • Medical expense receipts and records, including proof of unreimbursed medical expenses, health insurance coverage, and Social Security benefits
  • Proof of charitable donations
  • Property tax receipts

5. Get Help

Some professionals do their own taxes, but if filing your taxes is already incredibly stressful for you, you likely won’t want to do it on your own. You can hire either a certified public accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent (EA) to assist, either someone at a private or local firm or someone at a nationwide firm (such as H&R Block).

6. Know What to Expect

If you hire an accountant or agent to file your taxes, you can alleviate some stress by knowing exactly what to expect. Ask the accountant or agent exactly how their process works so you can visualize what will occur at the meeting. In most instances, the meeting is generally just the accountant or agent asking you questions regarding your income and expenses. You may also have to return to the office to sign off on the final filing.

7. Give Yourself a Deadline

Tasks without deadlines are the most dangerous because there’s no outside force pushing you to complete them. While the government gives you a deadline for filing your taxes, no one’s putting you on a deadline to compile all your paperwork or hire that CPA. Set a deadline well before Tax Day to give yourself wiggle room in case any issues arise. For example, while meeting with an accountant, you may realize you forgot some records and need to find them. Hold yourself accountable with an outside force, such as a life coach.

The Bottom Line

While taxes are inevitable, you can make it a brief and even enjoyable process. When you overcome procrastination around filing your taxes now, you can prevent immense stress later on. Even after you finish filing your taxes, don’t let procrastination sabotage your life.

To help you identify where and why you’re avoiding stressful situations and help you navigate your inclination to procrastinate, consider working with an Arootah coach. To learn more, schedule a free 30-minute introductory coaching call.

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Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

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2 years ago

Getting that refund is motivation enough!

2 years ago

I’ve been procrastinating. This is very helpful

2 years ago

Really helpful article to stop procrastinating!