By Jancee Dunn
April 6, 2023
Some people look forward to tax season as a time of unexpected bounty; others approach it with as much enthusiasm as a deer might have for bowhunting season. As tax day looms, we reached out to experts for tips on managing stress.
IF YOU SHARE EXPENSES WITH SOMEONE, EXCHANGE “MONEY STORIES.”
A 2021 survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that financial decisions are a significant source of conflict for nearly three-quarters of couples who are married or living together. Unsurprisingly, tax time can bring up all that tension. Financial beliefs and behaviors are often rooted in family experiences. Knowing how your partner formed their money values can build empathy and understanding. Megan McCoy, an assistant professor in the department of personal financial planning at Kansas State University, suggested you and your partner share “money stories”: “You can ask questions like: Who paid the bills in your family? What early money memory gives you the most shame and the most pride?” She said these are “powerful conversations.”
TRY NOT TO PROCRASTINATE.
Research indicates that when people are exposed to life stressors, those who confront them, rather than avoid them, have lower levels of stress hormones. So don’t dawdle. “Problems in finance always come from delaying facing it head-on,” Dr. McCoy said. “The sooner you figure out what your tax situation is, the sooner you can talk to the government about a payment plan and figure out lower interest options.”
BUILD COPING STRATEGIES INTO TAX SEASON.
Dr. McCoy suggested a technique for managing your anxiety: list all the worst-case scenarios you imagine around doing your taxes. Making that list allows you to figure out which concerns are more realistic and need to be directly addressed. If you’re afraid you’ll be audited, there is encouraging news: According to research, the odds of that are only about 0.38 percent. Most taxpayers can use the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File program to complete and electronically file their returns at no cost, said Ken Corbin, commissioner of the wage and investment division at the I.R.S.
Starting earlier can also help reduce stress. Mr. Corbin suggested carrying out a record-keeping plan right after you file your 2022 return — a reminder that tax season, for the I.R.S., is year-round. “You’ll be glad you did,” he said
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