The last thing any business owner needs is to have more tasks piled on their plate. And yet, around this time each year that’s exactly what happens. No matter how much we’d love to avoid it, there’s no way of getting out of tax time and the long to do list that comes with it. And when you stop to consider the damage a computing mistake could cause for your business or your employees, the stress can become almost unbearable.
We’ve just left tax season behind us, but here’s some advice to help you keep your files in order during the year. This way, come next tax season, you can keep your stress level to a minimum:
There’s no easier way to increase your tax stress and the chances of making a mistake on your taxes than by waiting until the last minute to complete your return. The solution is easy: start early. As soon as the New Year rolls around, schedule a tax prep appointment with a trusted CPA. That way you’ll have a deadline set for completing your taxes that is well in advance of the IRS deadline in April.
Once your appointment is set, start gathering all needed paperwork—invoices, receipts, expense reports, etc.—figure out what forms need to be filed and gathered for your employees, and organize all documents so they’ll be easy for your CPA to sort through. By starting your tax prep early, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to handle any obstacles that pop up, and further ensure that your returns are in great shape when you send them off.
Spend some time with your pooch
This may seem like odd tax advice. But hear me out. Tax season is stressful for all of us. As a business owner, though, you also have your employees to worry about. These added concerns can maximize stress at this critical time for your business. When you don’t have an outlet for that stress, it can eat away at you, negatively affecting your health and your relationships.
Our pets are actually great stress relievers. They lower our blood pressure and improve our mood. So, when you feel your tax stress taking over (or any kind of stress, for that matter) take a break and go for a walk with your dog. Heck, as long as there aren’t any safety concerns, bring your pooch to work with you. He’ll be a soothing presence as you run through your daily to-do list.
Don’t over-complicate things
From deciphering the U.S. tax code to filling out the countless forms needed for you and your employees’ returns, there’s not much that is simple about paying your taxes. So, don’t be a hero. Lacking the expertise to prepare your own taxes is perfectly normal—that’s why we have tax software and CPAs! Use the resources available to you.
For example, W-2 software and 1099 software are available to help make preparing your employees forms a lot easier, and organization software is available to help you keep up with documents, such as invoices and expense reports.
Schedule a post-taxes treat
Having something pleasant to look forward to can be a great motivator for getting through tax season. So, when you schedule your tax prep appointment, go ahead and plan a little post-tax season treat for yourself. Whether it’s a stress-reducing massage, a meal at your favorite restaurant, or a camping trip, knowing there are good times ahead will motivate you when the going gets tough in the build-up to April 15.
Even if you didn’t feel like you prepared properly for this tax season we just passed, go ahead and treat yourself anyway, and start preparing now to do better next year!
There probably isn’t much you can do to make tax season fun, but there are certainly ways to make it less stressful. When you start early and build some de-stressors into methodical tax prep, you can minimize your stress levels so that you can focus on improving your business and preparing for a great year. Taking care of your tax responsibilities early—even a year in advance—can make tax time a manageable, low-stress event.
By Jason Lewis
Jason is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness.