AuditFor many individuals and business owners, it’s like the final countdown to something dreaded and unavoidable – April 15.  Otherwise known as the deadline to file taxes, April 15 can instill horror even in the most unemotional of us.  It’s not that we think we’ve done anything wrong, per se.  It’s just the common fear that we might end up owing money we can’t afford to pay or just don’t want to pay. (Let’s face it. Who likes to pay taxes, right?)

To help you get through this process unscathed, we’ve come up with five things that can help you survive the stressful act of filing taxes.  Ready?  Let’s go.

1.  Be honest from the get-go.   Believe it or not, most people don’t mean to be dishonest at the onset.  They just kind of slip into little fibs.  From there, it can get worse.  So even if you are the most ethical person you know, remind yourself that your goal is to be honest every step of the way as you do your taxes.

2.  Be accurate.  If your W-2 says one number but you enter a different number, even if it’s off by a few dollars, you could receive a letter back instead of a refund check. In more serious cases, you could be audited.  So double check every figure you enter. If someone else is preparing your taxes, be sure you are sending that person the right numbers with the correct documentation.

3.  Be thorough.  Especially if you run your own business, have multiple jobs, have various investments or just have a financially confusing life, it’s easy to forget to include income sources. (Note, taxpayers are less apt to forget to claim deductions, though that has been known to happen as well.)  Keep track of where you got money and from whom.  If it’s tax time and you don’t have your paperwork together, get some help so you don’t get into trouble with the IRS.

4.  Be detail-oriented.  If you are preparing your own taxes, don’t forget to check the little boxes where indicated, add the lines as instructed and sign and date.  If someone else is filing for you, ensure all the fields are filled in where necessary.  Remember that even if someone is preparing your taxes for you, that doesn’t mean you are not responsible for what’s submitted.

5.  Be levelheaded.  Taxes make people nervous, especially if they are going to owe money, which is natural.  As you fill out your tax forms, try not to anticipate what the final numbers will look like – it will only distract you from the task at hand, and it could lead to errors.  Remind yourself from the start that even if you do owe, there are ways to arrange for a payment plan with the IRS.

Tax time does not have to be freak-out time.  If you do feel a little freaked out, though, and you want some help, contact Excelsior Pay Group…before April 15!

Katherine Gotthardt, CEO of All Things Writing, LLC blogs for Excelsior Pay Group.  Contact All Things Writing, LLC for information about blogging packages and other services.