Calming Tax Anxiety

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes. To that short list, may we add tax-induced stress? Here, three strategies for reducing the strain.

 

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Be Transparent

Thirty-one percent of Americans admit to committing “financial deception” with a spouse or a partner (lying about a money matter or withholding information). Having a talk with your partner well before April 15 can prevent a jarring moment of truth when, say, a secret investment loss is revealed, says Hawaii-based financial psychologist Brad Klontz, Psy.D.

Take a Crash Course in Tax Forms

Intimidated by legalese? Learn your Schedule C from your Schedule SE by reading a few “Tax 101” articles at TurboTax.com and you’ll soon feel less overwhelmed, says Kathleen Gurney, Ph.D., the CEO of Financial Psychology Corporation, in Sarasota, Florida, which advises people and businesses on money matters.

Outsource

One surefire way to quell tax worry is to have someone else do the work. Alas, accountants are pricey. Expect to pay about $250 to have your federal and state forms done. Get some help—yet save money—by opting for a website that will do all the calculations for you, such as TaxACT.com or HRBlock.com. Prices range from free to about $100.