We are coming to the end of tax session here in Canada. It can be a stressful and anxious time, as people with ADHD usually don’t enjoy the tasks associated with taxes. Sitting down, concentrating, organizing documentation and doing mundane tasks through the year, such as opening the mail and filing paperwork when it arrives. These tasks are often thought of as boring and mundane. Even if your intentions are really good, there never seems to be enough time to do them.
The good news is that once your taxes are filed, the rewards are great. You feel empowered, happy that you faced your demons and can relax with a clear mind knowing that your financial house is in order.
A task is rarely as bad as you think it will be and this includes filing your taxes. One client had six months of letters from the tax man unopened. After adopting the ostrich’s “head in the sand” technique, two weeks ago he knew he would have to face the contents of those envelopes. He presumed the reason he was being sent letters was that he owed money. After mentally psyching himself up, he opened the mail to discover that most of the letters were general information, the type that is sent to everyone. However two envelopes were cheques for him from the government because he had overpaid his taxes the year before. He could not believe it and really regretted wasting all that time in panic mode.
Here is a seven step process to help you file your taxes and feel empowered:
- Contact your accountant and make an appointment with them. Don’t wait until you have all your information together. The booked appointment will give you a deadline and help combat procrastination.
- On a piece of paper, jot down all the paperwork you will need. This includes charitable donations, health insurance payments, rent slip, depending on your circumstances, any interest you earned on investments, income from your employer, etc.
- Go through your paperwork and find what you need. It doesn’t matter if your paperwork is in a filing cabinet, in piles on the floor, or in unopened envelopes. Don’t judge yourself. Simply gather it all together.
- Take one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed. If you feel like you are getting bogged down, take a break. When you return with a fresh brain, even a complex task seems more do-able.
- When in doubt, ASK! Don’t make presumptions (they are usually the worst case scenario and make you feel even worse.) If you are unsure of anything, ask someone who might know. A friend, your accountant, a bookkeeper. Never be shy to ask. Knowledge takes away fear or anxiety you might be experiencing.
- Visit your accountant and file your taxes!
Congrats on completing your taxes! But don’t sit back and relax yet. Follow these steps to keep yourself on track for your 2009 taxes and doing taxes will not be a BIG dreaded task again.
- Three months have already passed in 2009, so gather and record all the information for January, February and March that will make filing 2009 taxes easy.
- While it is still fresh in your mind, write a list of the documents and information you need and put that in a folder marked 2009 Taxes.
- Learn lessons from your taxes this year so you don’t repeat the same mistakes next year. For example, the man who didn’t open tax related envelopes (because he thought they contained bad news) has created a new policy to open all mail every day. If you open your mail, but leave it lying around in piles that are nearly as tall as you, your new policy would be to file your tax related material in an easy to find place
- Get a filing cabinet. They are relatively inexpensive, only take up a small space and are invaluable in what they offer you… lots of space to organize your important paperwork with no mental stress.
- Knowledge is power, so address any concerns you have about money head on. Read books, surf the internet, talk to people you trust. Develop your knowledge about money and you will feel empowered.
- Have a trusted team of people behind you. Have an accountant, financial adviser, bookkeeper, etc., who not only has great knowledge and expertise of their subject, but also a calm, approachable manner. Someone who won’t mind if you ask a lot of questions and isn’t condescending in any way.
- If ever you fall behind, don’t worry. Merely start again where you left off with no pressure or self judgment.
Happy tax filing!