Doing your taxes is a detail-oriented process. If you’re not a numbers person or a great record keeper, it can be a bit stressful, especially if you’re coming up against the deadline for filing. And stress, among other things, can trigger tension-type headaches. So do yourself a favor and be proactive. These five things will help you tackle your taxes, one step at a time.
Tip 1: If you're doing your taxes yourself, do a little bit each day. Think of filing your taxes on your own as a marathon — not a sprint. If you start now, putting in an hour of work a day, give or take, you won’t be in as much of a time crunch as the deadline approaches. Build this into your routine by getting up a little early or dedicating a juncture right after dinner to “taxes-only time,” meaning no social media scrolling or television blaring in the background so you can really focus. If you’re staring at a computer screen and fine-print documents, you may experience eye strain, which can lead to headaches — and a headache will only make you want to do your taxes less. So, slow and steady definitely wins this race.
Tip 2: Create a folder for all of your necessary documents. Whether you’re working with an accountant or taking on your taxes solo, getting organized should be a top priority. Designate one file folder for all of the paperwork that comes in the mail and be sure to access and print out any documents that are online-only. Don’t forget to gather important receipts if you have deductibles from your income. Creating a digital folder with digital copies of documents can also be helpful. Once you’ve gotten everything together in one place, it’ll be that much easier to work without interruption since you won’t have to constantly stop to find things.
Tip 3: While hiring a professional may cost more up front, it could save you money [and stress] in the long run. You know what they say, time is money, and there’s a reason people hire pros to help with filing taxes and avoiding unnecessary headaches. Professionals can make the whole process quicker, easier, and potentially more favorable when it comes to the amount of your return. In the same way that you’re an expert at what you do, accountants know the ins and outs of filing taxes. They may know about deductions that you qualify for but aren’t taking or the best way to file for your current situation. Delegating to a pro may save you from tax-day burdens down the road.
Tip 4: Don't be afraid to ask friends or family members for advice if you feel confused. Remember, you don’t have to go at your taxes alone. Many people have felt as overwhelmed as you may be feeling right now, and chances are, friends or family members may have a few helpful pieces of advice that can make filing easier. Plus, simply talking with someone who knows how anxiety-inducing taxes can be may actually help you feel less stressed. So just go ahead and ask. Someone in your network is bound to have the answer to your question.
Tip 5: If you feel a tension headache coming on, treat it with Excedrin. Even if you follow all of this advice, you’re bound to have a few struggle moments, either while crunching numbers, trying to figure out software, or just plain hunting down all of the documents you need to file properly. Just keep a bottle of Excedrin Tension Headache at your desk or in the medicine cabinet. That way, you can get back to work on those taxes.
Now that you know how to get a jump on tax season, hopefully you’ll be able to stress less — and get fewer headaches — during the process. Maybe you’ll even be ahead of the game this year. After all, the sooner you file, the sooner you get your return (cha-ching)!