Stay on Top of Tax Season

March 9, 2024

Tax season is back! A yearly ritual should get easier over time, but the stress behind filing just never seems to let up. With changes in our lifestyles, careers, and even tax laws themselves always rolling through, it’s virtually impossible for any of us to get a real grip on things. That level of complexity and uncertainty is a breeding ground for anxiety and procrastination. This year, we want to do our part to help you stay on top of tax season by sharing not just how you can file, but how you can take care of yourself through the process!

Know Your Resources

For all but the most well-prepped among us, we go into each tax season feeling pretty blind. Enough time passes between filings that we get rusty on the details and how-to’s. When the way ahead feels unclear, it’s that much harder to get started.

If the first hurdle has you frozen, we’ve got you covered! Here are some of the most important resources that can help you visualize your next steps:

Instructions, Info Hubs, and Assistance Programs

Guides for Free Filing*

*NOTE: Some free file options require the use of guided tax software offered by trusted industry partners like TaxAct and TaxSlayer. For that reason, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of different software even if you’re planning to file for free. Don’t let confusing systems or hidden fees come around to bite you!

Consumer Reviews for Paid Tax Software

Get Started Early

It’s hard for a lot of us to get motivated without a deadline breathing down our necks. Of course, that just makes things ten times more stressful when we have to launch into a scramble at the last minute! So if we know we’re better off handling things ahead of time, why is it so difficult to make ourselves take the advice?

Tip #1: Baby Steps

The truth is, the key to “getting started early” is starting small: don’t try to take on everything all at once! Just a few small, scattered gestures of preparation leading up to tax day—putting aside documents in a designated file or computer folder as they arrive, taking five minutes to skim basic information on software options, and so on—can build up to make a huge difference. Every little bit you do now is one less thing that you’ll have on your plate when you sit down to file.

Tip #2: Know Your Timeframe

Even if you’re a late filer, it’s still a good idea to look at your calendar and have an awareness of your timeline. Tax Day this year is Monday, April 15th, so ask yourself: what other obligations do you have in the weeks and weekends leading up to that date? When are you most likely to have time to file? Are you safe leaving things until the weekend before, or do you have other commitments filling your schedule that mean you’ll have to get things done ahead of time?

Tip #3: No Matter What, Don’t Be a No-Show!

If you fall behind or circumstances intervene, remember that filing for an extension is always better than doing nothing! It’s also important to remember that extensions don’t apply to your deadline to pay taxes. To avoid penalties, always send your estimated payment in on time. 

Be Kind to Yourself!

The last few years have been especially turbulent and tiring. The majority of us are already doing everything we can just to stay on top of our day-to-day lives, never mind being proactive about personal administrative tasks. And that’s okay! Giving yourself a bit of grace and understanding can go a long way toward reducing anxiety and stress, which makes it much easier to function and reach our goals.

The Stress-Procrastination Cycle

The truth is, being hard on yourself just doesn’t help. All our typical reactions to our perceived task- and time-management faults—feeling guilt or shame, berating ourselves for being lazy, thinking that we are failures or bad people—are actually negative associations, not “reality checks” or “motivators.” Negative emotional associations are the fuel behind why we procrastinate in the first place, so piling more on over time just makes it even harder for us to get anything done! 

The key is to stay realistic and hold yourself accountable without falling into unproductive cycles of guilt and shame. It’s easier said than done; after all, a lifetime of emotional reflexes can’t be deprogrammed overnight. But it is possible!

Self-Care Resources

Most importantly, remember that you aren’t alone. If you find yourself struggling with productivity, time management, or organizing, there are always resources and support networks available. Our community on Facebook, including our Abundance Declutter Group, is a great place to start!