Why do we allow ourselves to miss important deadlines (like April 15th)? The first syllable (“dead”) on it’s own is hard enough to swallow. And then when you put another word like “tax” in front of it (“tax deadline”!!!), it can be overwhelming.
When it comes to April 15th, these are the four reasons I hear most often from my clients:
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the money
- I don’t know how to file (my tax situation has changed)
- I just can’t handle it right now
I don’t have the time
Sure you’re busy. But you’re not the only one with a job, children, church and/or other responsibilities. We all get 24 hours in a day; nobody else gets “bonus time”. In this light, you don’t really “manage” time; your challenge is simply to manage priorities.
Make the IRS a priority on April 15 so they don’t make you a priority later
I don’t have the money
Many people file an extension with the IRS, thinking it gets them more time to pay their taxes. It doesn’t. Even if you are granted a six-month extension to file, it doesn’t extend the deadline to pay which will still be April 15
In my experience, many people fear that they’re going to owe when they actually are going to get a refund. But they delay filing, only to learn later that their refund is reduced because of IRS penalties. Some delay more than three years and forfeit their refund altogether.
File now even if you don’t have the money. It doesn’t save you anything to delay.
I don’t have to know-how
This reason is usually associated with a major life change. For example,
- People get married and then don’t know whether to file jointly or separately.
- People start a new business and then don’t know how to file their business taxes
- People get an inheritance, or sell stock, or liquidate some 401(k) money, or buy rental property, and so on.
Any of these events can dramatically change how you file your taxes but it shouldn’t be so overwhelming, or your need for perfection so great, that you can’t get help or find the information you need to get the return filed
If you need to hire a tax professional, do it. Their fees will usually be more than paid for by the amount of taxes you save.
I just can’t handle it right now!
When it comes to the IRS, income taxes, finances, deadlines… people can implode emotionally, shut down, melt down… lie down. We tend to do nothing, because the job seems too big to handle in light of everything else we’re dealing with in life.
The good news is you don’t have to get it all done today. Give yourself a few days, that is, choose to set your own deadline rather than someone else do that for you.
Maybe it will take a few hours to get your records together, gain knowledge on some tax laws, navigate tax software, or meet with an accountant. Break the tasks down into bite-size pieces and then take 20 minutes each day until you cross the finish line.
ANCHOR ON THIS: Meeting the April 15th tax deadline can feel like an overwhelming task. It’s easy to make excuses, or rebel against the outside pressure that an IRS deadline imposes on our lives. But if you choose to set your own deadline, and break down the task into small daily steps, you’ll gain confidence as you move forward, complete the project, meet the deadline, and ultimately save yourself time, money and stress.
Can you share other reasons you miss deadlines, tax or otherwise? Please feel free to add your thoughts via your comments below.