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  • Phobic about tax returns

    I've just submitted my UK tax return online 4 hours before the deadline. (For those who don't know the UK tax system, I could have submitted it at any time since last July).

    What I don't understand about myself is why this is my number one procrastination item. I've been on a career break for the last 5 months, so it's not as if I didn't have time. Last year I submitted 10 hours before the deadline, and also sent them the previous two years worth that I hadn't done before.

    What is really stupid is that my tax affairs are not complicated. I am an employee, and the only extra income is from any sale of shares in my investment portfolio which my bank manages for me. There were 19 sales of shares this year that had to be reported to the tax man - the bank provides the information, although this year they didn't give the date of purchase of the shares involved so it took me about 2 hours going back through old documentation. I use an excellent commercial program called TaxCalc to fill the actual form in.

    I think it all goes back to the days when filling in the Capital Gains from share income was really difficult, as the bank provided little information, the calcuations were really complicated, and I was using a typewriter to record all the information - and I used to feel in a permanent state of confusion. For several years in the 1980s I didn't fill in the return at all and no-one noticed. Now they keep ringing up, and there are penalty payments if you don't return on time, which is the trigger that has finally overcome my fears.

    But I still can't see why I end up leaving it till the very last minute!

    Ruth

  • #2
    In his first book David Allen used income tax preparation as an example of how the horror movie making machine in our minds works. Taxes aren't pleasant to do and an honest mistake could lead to severe penalties. Because of that, some people put their nervous systems in jail just looking at their Form 1040 (or whatever they use in the UK). I hallucinate that the fear factor is the source of your procrastination. What you have to do is shut down that movie-making machine in your brain and take action.

    Like any other big, scary project, the key to breaking through the fear is to dumb it down to the next physical action you can take. In your case, the next action might be related to shopping for an accountant.

    "No matter how big the project is it always comes down to 'pick up phone', 'boot computer', 'punch button', 'open mouth and say something', etc". -DA in live seminar

    Though I probably could do my own taxes, I choose not to do it because I don't need or want the stress related to preparing my returns nor do I ever want the stress of an audit. Sure, it cuts a chunk into my tax return, but the removal of stress makes it all worth it to me.

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    • #3
      Optimal solution?

      Originally posted by RuthMcT View Post
      But I still can't see why I end up leaving it till the very last minute!
      Who knows? Maybe it is the optimal solution! You've met the deadline! Somebody could call it "just in time tax preparation"!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
        In his first book David Allen used income tax preparation as an example of how the horror movie making machine in our minds works. Taxes aren't pleasant to do and an honest mistake could lead to severe penalties. Because of that, some people put their nervous systems in jail just looking at their Form 1040 (or whatever they use in the UK). I hallucinate that the fear factor is the source of your procrastination. What you have to do is shut down that movie-making machine in your brain and take action.

        .
        You're absolutely right, even though as my tax affairs are quite straightforward I shouldn't be panicking like this. It's not complicated enough to justify an accountant. Mind you this year, I even freaked at loading the software, which held me up for ages!

        I think I'll reward myself for the "JIT tax preparation", and come up with a new plan for next year! I am beginning to figure out a way of getting the unstressful bits done, before I go near the capital gains tax.

        Ruth

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by RuthMcT View Post
          It's not complicated enough to justify an accountant.
          My tax situation isn't complicated either and I probably could do it myself, but I just don't want or need to endure the stress around the process. My time and my health are worth the cost of a professional to do the job for me. I'm not saying you're wrong for doing your own taxes; I'm merely pointing out that complexity isn't the sole reason for hiring an accountant.

          You could always try it once and see how different you feel about it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ellobogrande
            I'm not saying you're wrong for doing your own taxes; I'm merely pointing out that complexity isn't the sole reason for hiring an accountant.
            One of the most freeing things for me in the past several years has been realizing that my taxes, no matter how simple, belong in the DELEGATE category. I am *not* the best person to do them, no matter how simple they are. My accountant can do them in 20 minutes, and she'll back me up in case of an audit.

            I'm a broke graduate student who sometimes has to dig in the change jar to get a cup of coffee at the end of the month. But paying an accountant to do my taxes has been a good investment for my mental energy, and that's what GTD is all about.

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            • #7
              Agree with what ellobogrande said. Further, perhaps, you may have to prepare for it the whole year: by the habit of keeping the records organized from the point of view of simplifying and making sure everything is in place.

              Regards,
              Abhay

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