“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” –Benjamin Franklin
Tax season: you knew it was coming, yet it’s still not any easier to face. Even with the possible lure of money coming their way, many people struggle with getting over the initial hurdle of starting the tax-filing process. If this is you, you are certainly not alone. Here are a few ideas to get you through filing this year:
1. Prepare yourself emotionally.
Get Zen. Take a deep breath, do a yoga pose, maybe play some Enya. Or take the opposite approach — think of all the things that are worse than filing taxes. (It’s a surprisingly exhaustive list.) Do whatever it takes to find the strength.
2. Make it fun.
Turn getting your materials into a scavenger hunt so that you aren’t start-stopping at every section. This will only set you up for smooth sailing into the finish line. Plus, once you get over the initial hurdle of hunting down the necessary documents and compiling everything you will need, you’re basically a third of the way done.
3. Think about your life… and how it applies to your financial situation.
You’re free to embrace this to whatever philosophical degree you deem necessary… but to make the April 15 deadline, narrow it down to life scenarios that impact taxes. The goal is to make sure you’re maximizing your situation. Here are a just a few scenarios with potential tax implications worth looking into:
- Eligible students could receive a tax credit of up to $2,500 of the cost of tuition, fees, and course materials paid during the tax year.
- Former students could receive a deduction for qualified interest paid on student loans.
- A “not-so-independent” boyfriend or girlfriend could be claimed as a dependent, reducing your taxable income.
4. Explore your (filing) options.
There are plenty of online tax-filing services where you can file for free. Most of these highly intuitive services, like TurboTax and H&R Block, also feature e-filing technology. So no paper, pen, or stamps required. Or bribe your friend who’s good with numbers with some food and drinks and let them do the work for you!
5. Rip off that band-aid.
In reality, you’ve likely built up all this dread for a few hours worth of focus (if that). Some popular services even offer mobile options where you can get a jumpstart on the process by snapping a picture of your W-2. And you can save your progress within the tool, so you can take a little break if you find it to be too much for one sitting.
6. Breathe a sigh of relief — you’re done.
Whether you’re celebrating a nice chunk of change coming in or coming to terms with your payment plan (yes, that is an option), at least it’s over. Even if it’s a party-of-one, set aside a little time to congratulate yourself for conquering the hard-fought battle that is filing taxes.
Once you’ve recovered, you could start planning for next year. Maybe set aside a few of the documents you know you’ll need again? But then again, that also sounds like a great project for future you, and your cozy couch is calling your name.