Today is the deadline for filing tax returns, and yes, there are many people who spent the weekend pulling it together and those who will work right up to the last minute to complete them.  Additionally, there are those who will file an extension because they haven’t started, or because they’re in the habit of doing so every year.

More and more is seems to me that waiting until the last minute to prepare and file tax returns is becoming the rule rather than the exception.  Why is that? Usually, people wait until the last minute because they can’t find receipts and other necessary documents since they have no system for maintaining records or a place to keep items for the current years’ tax preparation.

Most of those who prepare tax returns as a service to others help to perpetuate the destructive behavior by extending hours during the week before the filing deadline and even on the deadline day.  One thing that I absolutely love about my accountant is that she doesn’t work on tax day and she’s quite clear about letting her clients know.  She honors and respects her time and chooses to not deal with the last minute stress and hustle, since, of course, she makes herself available from the very beginning of the year.  The post office extends hours to as late as midnight to accommodate last minute filers and will even stand outside to collect them as people drive by.  Recently here in Michigan, the post office scaled back on the extended hours on the deadline day.

Looking at the situation from the outside, it seems to me that this is a pretty vicious circle.  One that continues to take place year after year since very few get out of the habit.  Are you stuck in the vicious cycle?  Are you ready to get out of it?  If so, make the commitment to do so right now, then set up the necessary support to get you through the process in a timely manner.  Create a system for filing the documents that you need to complete your return and add to it during the course of the year.  At the end of the year, everything that you need is already in one place, organized and ready for you.  If you’re preparing your return yourself, set time in your calendar to get it done.  If not, set a time to take the documents to your tax preparer to get the ball rolling.  By all means, don’t make it the end of March or first part of April.  Get the ball rolling right after the dust from the holiday season settles.

« »