Tax season is, indeed, a taxing time for many. Pulling together everything you need, facing your accountant - paying your accountant! Sometimes it just feels like too much and we procrastinate until we can wait no longer, creating even more stress.
Are you concerned about finding the time, finding the money and facing the music as you get into the rhythm of tax preparation? Will you owe the government? Can you find all of the paperwork? Are your books in order? What will your accountant think of you? Do you have enough aspirin on hand? The worries are endless!
Tax season is difficult enough for many, but for a business owner it is especially complicated because it means taking a close look at a financial picture that they may have been avoiding all year long. It also means adding work to an already tight schedule and as well as the expense of an accountant and bookkeeper.
But you can unravel the tapestry of love around tax time. Yes, it can be more harmonious. Let's see if we can find some ideas that resonate with you so you can work through the fears, end the procrastination and tap into internal resources to alleviate some of this taxing burden.
Dreading a meeting with your accountant – or finding an accountant in the first place – is probably the most common reason for procrastination. For soloists who haven't shown a profit, or whose revenues haven't been handled in a savvy manner, facing an accountant can be a daunting prospect. First, know that you are not alone! This is NOT the first time your accountant has experienced sorting through receipts in a shoebox. This is not the first time he or she has seen a bottom line with lots of zero's but a rather noticeable "-" preceding them. No matter how bad it is, your accountant has seen worse. In fact, without our financial woes many accountants would be out of business. We need them and that is one of the things that makes their business successful. Where would our accountants be without our problems? Step back from your pride, know that you are not alone, create a plan to make it better next year (along with a plan for accountability) and make the appointment today. If your accountant's mannerisms truly create discomfort for you, then it may be time to find a new ally.
Now, what about the money? Self employment tax alone may seem unaffordable to many soloists. Add sales tax on top of that for those who sell products and income tax for those who are profitable, and, and, and…. Does it ever stop? Is the problem just too big to handle? OK, it's time for another perspective. I have worked with many business owners who have ended up owning the government lots of money as a result of ignoring their bleak financial picture. In every case, the IRS has been, believe it or not, fairly flexible in making manageable arrangements for payment. In the worst case scenario your accountant can help you to work with a liaison at the government to work things out. Staying in the dark will not solve the problem. Bring it out of the closet and into the light. Taking back control will give you a fresh perspective, leaving you with more energy to funnel into growing your business.
If you are one of the lucky ones and your taxing problem is simply a matter of organizing your records, it's time to prioritize your tasks, roll up your sleeves, and work a weekend or two if necessary. And rather than just making order out of things, create a system as you go along. Think outside of the box to generate organizational methods that work for you so that next year will be different. Consider working with a coach for this short-term project. Remember, not every system works for every person. Creative entrepreneurs require creative methods when it comes to organization. Spreadsheets and accounting programs can be daunting to the right-brained creative. It's important to find a process that works for YOU.
Again, it's most important to know that you are not the only one singing the tax season blues. Let go of the embarrassment - or whatever emotion is holding you back - and create solutions to empower yourself and that will make it different next year.
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka