Written by Susan Karyn Lasky, M.S., BCC, SCAC
Many people with ADHD—and without—have difficulty getting their financial records ready in time to make this deadline.
If you see that you are unlikely to have your taxes ready to mail by April 15th, file for an extension now, to avoid penalties for late filing (you’ll still have to pay taxes and interest, so the sooner you file, the better).
It is possible to overcome major avoidance, which is what keeps many people from getting their taxes done on time.
When you are working on tax prep, think of it as a project.
It is then less overwhelming to manage this project by breaking it down into steps (tasks) and working on just one task at a time. Entering each task on your calendar, as a Task-Appointment, makes it more likely you’ll get them done, as you’ve assigned specific times for working on each ‘baby step’ for your Tax Prep project.
It is easier to get your head, and energy, around doing a specific task then it is to think about accomplishing the entire project.
- Task #1 – Begin by gathering the many financial papers you probably have in several different places, and put them in one location, even if you use the proverbial shoebox to hold everything!
- Task #2 – Sort the various papers into categories (receipts, statements, tax reporting forms).
- Task #3 – If you itemize, group your deductible receipts (medical, business, etc.). Note: Remember that you can request an annual statement from your local or mail order pharmacy that itemizes all medication expenses, so you don’t need to keep each receipt during the year. Obtaining this statement can be a separate Task (visit the pharmacy, make the call or download the Pharmacy record).
- Task #4 – Review your checkbooks, bank and credit card statements for possible deductible expenses.
- Task #5 – Are any reporting forms missing? (W2 or 1099’s, property or school taxes, mortgage interest, bank interest, stock dividends, etc.) You should have a list of what to look for from your accountant. If not, several are available online or through the IRS website. If any critical reporting forms are missing, set a Task to contact the originator for a copy.
- Task #6 – Tally your categories and list the details, whether on paper or computer.
- Task #7 – Fill in the tax forms or give your prep work to your accountant. Note: Accountants may have different requirements as to what documentation they need to do your taxes, so check in advance.
Take your Tax Prep Project a baby step, or Task, at a time, and it will be easier to complete it without getting into a state of overwhelm or frustration.
Hopefully you can do this in time to file by April 15th , but if not, by or before the extension deadline.
Don’t ignore it – taxes DON’T just go away
If you don’t want next year to be as stressful, work with someone to set up a simple system for managing your financial papers. It’s worth the investment, given the possible penalties and interest of late filings, the potential savings from having a clear record of all deductible items, and, perhaps most important, the reduced stress you’ll experience.
© Susan Lasky, Organizing & Productivity Solutions
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