When you think of filing taxes, the word "fun" rarely comes to mind. But you may be surprised by just how much some Americans despise the process of submitting a return. TD Ameritrade surveyed taxpayers to get their thoughts on doing their taxes, and it turns out there's a host of unpleasant activities many folks would rather subject themselves to. Here are eight things that some folks find preferable to working on their returns:
Percentage of Filers Who Prefer Said Activity to Doing Taxes
Sit on jury duty
Babysit a toddler
Spend a day in useless meetings
Get stuck in five hours of traffic
Watch infomercials for 10 hours
Get a tooth pulled
Miss a connecting flight
Have minor surgery
Now you might argue that participating in jury duty is more interesting than filing a tax return, and that babysitting a toddler, while challenging in its own right, at least opens the door to some cuteness exposure. But to prefer a tooth extraction or surgical procedure over filing taxes seems a little extreme.
Either way, one thing is clear: Americans find the process of filing taxes daunting and unappealing. But in reality, it doesn't have to be that way.
Getting a handle on your taxes
Because the tax code is cumbersome, many filers are quick to assume that the process of filing a return is apt to be tortuous. But here's the truth: Filing taxes doesn't have to be complicated, especially if you're a salaried employee and aren't itemizing. If that's the case, you simply take the information on your W-2 and 1099s, plug it into whatever software you decide to file with, and basically call it a day.
Now if you're self-employed or own a small business, it's a bit of a different story. Identifying the right deductions to claim can be tricky if you're not well-versed in the tax code or are new to that sort of arrangement. But if that's the case -- or if your taxes are just a bit more complex than the average person's for another reason -- then there's a simple solution at hand: Hire a tax preparer.
Granted, paying someone to do your taxes doesn't mean you'll play no part in the process. It'll still be on you to gather the right paperwork and financial information (think receipts for business expenses, invoices, and all records of income, to name a few) to allow that professional to do his or her job. But it might make things move more quickly and take some stress off of your plate.
Either way, no matter how much you might loathe the idea of filing taxes, don't make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to get your return done. The April 15 deadline will be here before you know it, and if you procrastinate too long, you may end up rushing through the process and making mistakes that cause your return to get rejected or audited. Instead, carve out some time over the next week, take a deep breath, and get ready to tackle that return. And then thank your lucky stars that you're not in the dentist's chair or under the knife, because really, that would be far worse.
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