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Bonnie Mincu

Senior Certified ADHD Coach

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Results from the ADHD and Taxes SURVEY

In my last post, I invited you to take a survey about how you deal with Personal Income Tax filing, due every year in April.  I knew that filing yearly taxes is a painful subject for many ADD / ADHD Adults, not surprising since it requires organization (or at least holding on to records and receipts), patience, and the necessity to get tedious calculations done by a deadline.

The survey results were not totally surprising to me, but still a little scary!  I only hope that people with ADD have a much higher rate of non-compliance than the general population.  If a quarter of the general population didn’t file for taxes, as a country, we’d be in big trouble!

Here’s the good news:

  • 43% have an accountant fill out their forms – good because we tend to avoid delegating
  • 73% are up to date on filing their taxes
  • 68% have not had to stand in line at the post office on April 15 to get their filing sent by registered mail.  (Though the blocks-long line at the Manhattan Main Branch Post Office had a bit of a party atmosphere towards midnight.  Enterprising kids worked the line selling brownies, someone had a pizza delivered… but I digress!)

Here’s the bad news:

  • 61% have not filed by the deadline in the last five years… 36% said “never or hardly ever”
  • 27% owe filing from previous years.

… and the really UGLY news:

  • 46% did NOT file an extension when they missed the deadline, and 12% more weren’t sure if they did.
  • 12% have not filed tax reports for 3 years or more

Ignorance is not bliss

There’s a whole lot of avoidance and denial going on here in ADD-land!  It’s important that you are aware of how interest and penalties are calculated.  This webpage from www.About.com gives a simple explanation  of U.S. tax law.

Reasons why people don’t deal with their past-due taxes

The survey bore out what we’d expect for reasons we have trouble doing taxes.  (Click here to see survey results summary). There are the typical ADD / ADHD bugaboos of forgetfulness, disorganization, lack of time and lack of interest.

What’s is most sad is that anxiety over the taxes came out at almost half of people’s reasons for not dealing with them.   Shame accounted for almost a third.  And ten percent cited not knowing where to turn for help as a top reason for not moving forward.

I have had a number of ADHD Coaching clients over the years who were years behind on filing their taxes.  In every single case, when they proactively contacted the IRS, they were pleasantly surprised how cooperative the agent was in helping them come up with a payment plan that they could handle.

I can only urge anyone who is underwater with filing their taxes to take the following steps:

  • File an extension!  That puts you in compliance and buys you time to get your taxes together.
  • Consult a tax accountant, a tax service like H&R Block, or find out about services like SCORE to find a retired tax expert who will help you for little or no fee.
  • Contact your government tax office about past-due taxes.  You may get some “forgiveness” on interest and penalties if you make the first move.

What are your experiences in dealing with overdue taxes?   Please let us know in your comments!

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Author: Bonnie Mincu
Senior Certified ADHD Coach, Founder of "Thrive with ADD," Bonnie has been coaching adults with ADD / ADHD traits since 2001. She has developed numerous training programs to help with the challenges of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

Comments

    Terry Morse

    The picture you present is scarey! I have found that keeping several separate three ring binders for: 1)bank info, 2)credit card info, 3)tax info, 4) insurance -health and car, 5)utilities etc etc, then putting them into a file drawer -each in a separate hanging file with labeled spine up; this means you are able to put relevant material, if in rush, in the hanging file next to the three ring binder it SHOULD be in.

    Bonnie Mincu

    Terry – Love your organization system!

    The survey was biased with an expectation of failure. It never asked, “Have your taxes been filed yet THIS YEAR?” Mine have – they were filed in mid February. I have solved my accounting/taxes problem. I filed out the questionnaire hoping to share this victory, but was never given the chance.

    Bonnie Mincu

    OK, I’ll congratulate you sincerely. It is great you filed this year on time. And results of surveys like this do tend to be biased in that 1) those who are struggling with ADD traits are more likely to be online reading about ADD, and 2) those who have particular feelings about a subject (positive or negative) are probably more likely to fill out a survey.

    My purpose in doing this particular survey was more to find out about my readers’ tendencies in general regarding taxes. I wanted to find out how pervasive certain problems were, to see what kinds of solutions or strong advice might be useful. My perspective is one of coaching, which is a little different from a general forum or support group.

    I agree with Terry that this is a scary picture. I’ve never had trouble with filing taxes on-time. When I was single, I just filed as soon as I got my W-2. Now, several years married, and with a more complex tax picture, we still do the same thing: file as soon as all the documents arrive. My wife does the initial run-through on TurboTax, and then I cross check the numbers to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

    Bonnie Mincu

    You have a good system going!

    experiences with taxes? – uniformly bad. i find that cognac helps tho.

    barbara

    How about it was just so overwhelming and absolutely nauseating to organize them that I didn’t file for 2 years? Ended up allowing myself during a “difficulty falling asleep night” to get sucked into one of these Tax Resolution infomercials, ripped off by them, and finally, ended up contacting the IRS directly for help, which I should have done from the beginning.
    I am now on a payment plan which I couldn’t convince them to call me to remind me about but I’m getting the balance down month by month!

    I, on the contrary to the poster above, liked reading that my problems were very common w/ adult add. Thanks Bonnie!

    Bonnie Mincu

    I’ve been urging people for years to contact the IRS directly. Every client I’ve had who has finally done so has been happy with the results. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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