Few things in life are as dependable as tax day. The April 15 deadline was put into place in 1955 and remains the same today. Sure, there’s been some times where April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday so the actual deadline shifts. But there is a reason the saying “nothing can be certain except death and taxes” exists. Leer en español.
Moral of the story is that you need to take care of that tax return by April 15. Also known as seven days from now.
There’s good news and bad news.
Good news: you aren’t alone! Up to 25% of Americans will wait until the last few weeks of tax season to file. You might wait because:
- You’re a thrill seeker – although it seems like there are many things more thrilling than taxes.
- You’re an avoider – can’t blame you for that.
- You’re simply unable to make a decision. File now? File an extension? What’s right? Who knows?
Bad news: waiting until the last minute and rushing to file your return increases the likelihood that you’ll make a mistake on your tax return. Some of the most common mistakes involve simple things like misspellings, incorrect data entry or math and other avoidable errors.
Do it Yourself
If you prefer to bear down and actually complete the return yourself (with the help of an online tax prep program, of course!) we have some simple steps to follow.
- Go dark. No TV. Turn off the phone. Install a tool to limit your web browsing and remove distractions. Clear your schedule.
- Set a reward. Tell someone you are filing your tax return today and enable them to give you a reward upon completion. Maybe it’s a night out. Maybe they lock you out of your phone and will only let you in once you’ve finished. Set a reward you really want to work for.
- Gather the tax documents. Do this all at once. It may be hard. It may feel like nothing is getting done. But doing all of this organization up front will prevent you from stopping your return mid-stream and tracking down what you need.
- Choose the online program you want to use and get started! (We’re partial to H&R Block, of course.) It’s a good idea to even set timers, maybe for 30 minutes at a time, to give yourself predictable breaks and prevent you from using a million little things as excuses. “I need water. I need a snack. I need to pee.” You see how this goes.
- Double-check your data. Remember what we said about mistakes?
- Hit “submit” and reap that reward. Congratulations! You’re all done! Until next year, of course.