Many people find preparing their federal income tax forms stressful.  There are many reasons for this.  Some people experience stress because they have a deadline to meet while they juggle other responsibilities.  Others find tax paperwork confusing.  Those who owe taxes to the government may worry about finding the money to pay taxes that are due. There are several ways that you can manage stress while you prepare your tax return.

1. Start Working on Your Taxes Early. 

It is important to allow a couple of weeks to do your taxes, especially if they are complex.  When you save your tax preparation efforts for the last minute, the process may be much more stressful than when you start early. If you start early, even two weeks early, you may be able to work on the forms over the course of several days.  Starting early will save you from frustration if you cannot find a form or have a question. It will give you time to fix problems. If you are unsure of how much you owe, starting early will give you that information and allow you to prepare for the tax bill.

2. Get Organized. 

If you spend a lot of time going through files to find information, you should get organized before you start to prepare your tax forms. Organizing your tax documents is an activity that you can do all year long.  At the beginning of each year, create a folder where you keep all of your tax documents for the year.  Place in your folder documents that you will need for your taxes as you receive them in the mail or generate them.  Common documents that you will need to save may include medical bills, charitable donations, income statements, financial statements, mortgage interest statements, tuition statements, student loan statements, and dependent care expense statements and receipts.

3. Get Help.

Many people find it difficult to understand tax documents.  Some people find it helpful to consult with a certified public accountant (CPA) who can prepare their taxes.  Other people use tax preparation software, which asks a series of questions about common sources of income and deductions.  You can also use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website to get more information or answer questions you might have.

4. Take Breaks. 

If you have the time, take breaks while working on your tax forms.  If you have complex taxes, you may experience fatigue.  Fatigue may lead to mistakes on your tax forms, which will lead to more stress.  Start your taxes early and do them over several days so that you can have several breaks.

5. Reward Yourself. 

Think of something that you would like to do after preparing your taxes and reward yourself with it.  You do not have to buy or do anything expensive.  Your reward could be spending time with a friend, taking a walk, watching your favorite movie, or playing a game. When you reward yourself with something fun or positive, it can reduce the stress that you experience and elevate your mood.

For More Information

Internal Revenue Service:

preparing taxes can be stressful