Preventing TSS (Tax Stress Syndrome)

Taxes. Hate them.

Sadly, burying your head in the sand and avoiding the work now only creates more of a headache for you come April (speaking from experience).

If you said to yourself on April 15th last year as you made the midnight sprint to the post office: “Why didn’t I organize these things a little bit at a time over the course of last year? This entire process would have been so much easier and less stressful!” Well, now is the time to get ahead of the curve!

Give paperwork a place

The best way to prevent TRSS (Tax Related Stress Syndrome) is to start wrangling all the basic paperwork and documentation like receipts early. If you’ve ever tried to sort through a shoebox full of receipts in one sitting you know that making sense of such a stack in retrospect can be quite a challenge. If you don’t have a place for receipts and tax files, chances are you will lose something important, which can cost you unnecessarily on your deductions, or worse, get you in hot water with the IRS. So it is absolutely critical that you have at least a place to put your tax related items. We recommend an accordion file — they’re cheap, easy and portable like the Tax.filer. But even a shoebox is preferable to no filing system at all.

Maintaining perspective is crucial

An old family friend used to be fond of saying, the anticipation of a shot can often be worse than the shot itself. The same holds true for taxes. I tend to be a worrier by nature, which generally works in my favor because I’m usually very prepared for things. But sometimes, that anxiety can be paralyzing, especially around tax time. One great trick for reducing anxiety is to remind yourself that you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you’re feeling out of your depth, or so overwhelmed you’re tempted to bury your head in the sand, speak with an accountant who can help put you on the right track.

To get ahead on the looming April 15th deadline, here are a few simple tips.

#1. Ready, Set, Go!
Make the commitment to start properly organizing your tax information as soon as the first tax form comes in the house. It may seem like just setting down that little piece of paper for now is no big deal, but all those little pieces in all those little places becomes a huge task come February (or March or April). Besides, if it seems like no big deal to file it later, then it should not be a big deal to file the first time around.

#2 Take Notes
Before you file any receipt or tax-related paper away, get out a pen and put a star next to items that have tax implications. Things to consider would be charitable contributions, interest income earned, tax payments made, home office purchases, or state tax returns. By highlighting them now, it will be a cinch to capture them when you’re filing your taxes. All it takes is a few seconds to jot down a note about a particular receipt — whether it’s for a medical expense, a charitable contribution, or a miscellaneous deductible expense.

#3 Try Teamwork
Make sure that your partner is on the same page. A lot of relationships are made up of one person who plans in advance and one who, well, doesn’t. Get your significant other to understand that if you spend all winter tracking down receipts, you are going to have less time helping with the cooking, cleaning, and running errands.

What are you doing NOW (as in THIS WEEK) to get your 2013 taxes under control?