April 15 is coming: Time to Procrastinate!
It's April 14 as I'm writing this post, so taxes are on my mind. I'm going to bet that about 50% of the ADHD / ADD Adults reading this in the U.S. won't get their taxes in by the April 15th deadline. This guess isn't based on any formal survey, just a rough estimate after talking to hundreds of ADD adults who contact me about coaching.
Taking it further, I'd guess that at least half of those won't file an extension by April 15 either. And maybe 10% haven't filed taxes for three years.
There must be something about the 3-year mark that gets people's attention. It seems that whenever someone with ADD tells me they've not filed taxes, they're three years behind and feeling they'd better get some help with it.
What is it about tax filing that brings out our worst ADD symptoms?
Sure, it's really boring to get all that documentation together. (If you're self-employed like I am, there's a LOT of documentation!) So, naturally, we procrastinate on boring things. And if we're disorganized as well, there might be a lot of scrounging around looking for receipts and paperwork.
If you've tried to read the tax guide and do the long form yourself, it can get overwhelming very quickly. That's why I've had an accountant do my taxes since 1983. The last thing I need when I'm pulling information together is to have to figure out the tax code.
A daunting factor for many of us is perfectionism. Tax documentation can be a perfectionist's nightmare. What if you had a fear of being wrong (not perfect) in calculating exactly how many miles you drove on work-related business. Exactly what percentage of your apartment was used for business. Can you accurately account for all the costs related to doctor/dentist visits, including taxi fares, parking (do you include baby-sitter expense?) If you're simply a perfectionist, you might just agonize until you get it right. But if you are an ADD / ADHD perfectionist, tax calculations are a recipe for procrastination and avoidance!
Bad news and good news for tax procrastinators
Yes, there are penalties for not paying your taxes on time. But they're relatively light compared to not FILING on time. If your tax forms aren't ready for filing by April 15, at least file an extension. That satisfies your legal commitment for the time being.
Even if you've “forgotten” to file taxes for the last few years, there is some good news. When you proactively call the IRS and ask for a payment plan to help you meet your obligation, they will most likely work something out with you. Every time an ADHD coaching client of mine has called them, they've been very pleasantly surprised how accommodating the IRS representative was. Click here to find out what to do about late tax filing.
No matter when you call or file your late tax returns, taking the initiative with the IRS will always be better than avoiding them.
Now that you've decided to work on taxes, check out my tips for doing really tedious paperwork.