You’re not alone!
According to the IRS, early tax return volume was down by 33% compared to last year. There could be a few reasons for that, including the later deadline (April 18 vs. April 15). But I think there is a lot more to it than just deadlines. We often avoid things because of emotional reasons. Personally, I put off doing my taxes for over a month longer than I usually do this year, because I knew I had to include my business expenses and earnings. I felt intimidated and was worried that I would do it wrong. So I procrastinated and stressed about it. Turns out, it took a little extra time, but I got through it, and got a pretty great refund check at the end!
We often avoid things because of emotional reasons.
I put out the call to my Money Circle folks, and asked them why they’ve delayed doing their taxes. The responses were pretty consistent, and not very surprising.
“I knew I’d owe.”
A couple people responded saying that they knew they’d owe money on their taxes this year. They weren’t necessarily putting off filing in order to avoid paying, but they wanted to be able to save up the money first.
“I was waiting to receive all my documents.”
Although it’s legally required for employers to mail out W-2s by January 31st, that doesn’t always happen. Several people had been waiting for their W-2s to arrive, along with other financial paperwork, like 1099s from your bank or investment firms.
“My taxes this year are complicated.”
Some people switched jobs, moved to a new state, made new investments, or spent money on business. It can be intimidating to try to figure out how to file your taxes when your financial situation has changed.
“It’s a lot of pressure.”
When something is required of you, and potentially high stakes, it can feel like a lot of pressure. This can create a mental block, which makes it the last thing you want to do at the end of the day.
Some people just don’t feel like filing their taxes yet! It’s not like it’s a fun activity. And I can fully understand that.
“I feared making a mistake.”
Some respondents have been burned in the past. They made a mistake on their tax return, or missed an error, and then they had to pay for it (literally) later. Even though mistakes are totally human, we are usually afraid of feeling inadequate and having to deal with the aftermath.
So, what next?
1. Ask for help
I know it’s hard to ask for help sometimes. But it’s better to swallow your pride than to suffer in silence. Do you need to ask your parents to explain the process do you? Do it. Do you need to hire a CPA to file for you? Go for it. Here’s more information on how to do your taxes on the cheap.
2. Talk about it
Your friends probably understand exactly how you feel! You aren’t alone in wanting to avoid things like filing (and potentially paying) taxes. But the less you talk about it, the more ashamed you’ll feel. So go ahead, bitch and moan. Taxes suck! And then file anyway.
3. Get it done
April 18th is Tax Day, the deadline for filing your taxes (unless you’ve requested an extension). Don’t wait until 11pm that night to log into TurboTax or H&R Block. Give yourself a couple days to gather your documents, and then come up with a plan of attack. Which tax program are you going to use? Are you going to hire someone to help you? Things feel less scary when you have your plan mapped out.
And if you’re getting a refund, learn what you should do with that money here.
Have you put off your taxes? Share your reasons in the comments below!
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.