Tomorrow is a big day for the majority of us here in the U.S. It’s Tax Day. Except for the states of Maine and Massachusetts; their tax deadline is April 17th. 

If you’re reading this on Sunday, April 14, maybe you’re feeling all relaxed because you filed your taxes already. If you got a refund, maybe it already hit your account or you are patiently awaiting the electronic deposit. If you have to pay, you’re just waiting until tomorrow to e-pay.

Or, maybe you’re reading this to distract yourself because – gulp – it’s the day before and you still are in prep mode. If this is you, you wouldn’t be alone.

According to the 2024 Tax Procrastinators report, prepared by IPX1031, 1 in 4 Americans don’t feel prepared to file their taxes and 29% admit to procrastinating. The same report notes that the biggest tax procrastinators by State are Wyoming (ranks #1); my home state New York (ranks #34); Pennsylvania (ranks #50). Ya know…just in case this is ever a trivia question 🙂

My very unscientific take on the 2024 tax season: It’s been weird. 

At least this is true for me and some of the folks with whom I’ve talked. We’ve all had something unexpected occur.

If you read my last piece, you know my saga. I vented about my experience of going from being so proud of having my tax package ready and uploaded for my CPA in early February – more than a month before business taxes were due on March 15th – to having to re-do my entire package (business & personal). (If you missed that post, you can read about it here.)

Taxes & Emotions

How’s the 2024 tax season been for you?

  • Do you/did you feel well prepared and was it relatively easy?
  • Was the preparation process time consuming and a bit overwhelming?
  • Are you feeling stressed about a potentially large and unaffordable tax bill?

Like all the other aspects of money, tax season can bring up a wide range of emotions. And this is true whether you work with a CPA like I do, or self-file. 

For some people, tax season and potential tax debts can bring up feelings of guilt or shame. Prompting a lot of negative self-talk and replays of what could have been done differently throughout the previous year. Is this happening with you?

Or, it can cause you to travel down what I call “comparison lane,” where you think others aren’t in a similar position as you. 

Others may find themselves grappling with feelings of anger about how much of their income goes toward taxes and what those taxes are used for. Is this you? 

On the flip side, maybe you find the season affirming. Because it shows that you’ve been proactive. So, you’re feeling in control and confident. You’re feeling empowered!

Wherever you may fall on the spectrum of emotions, if you happen to be experiencing a major life transition during tax season (which by the way begins in January), your emotions are likely to be even more amplified.

That’s because…

Tax season has a tendency to put a spotlight on all of the choices you did and didn’t make in the previous year. 

Especially if you don’t have a practice of doing quarterly financial check-ins throughout the year. 

So, this is the first time you’re coming face-to-face with those choices in a comprehensive way. Rather than as single, isolated one-off choices. 

There’s even a high chance this is the first time you’re seeing the full scope of your financial responsibilities and obligations, giving you an even bigger, clearer picture of your financial situation.

Tax season is simply yet another example of how managing your finances isn’t just about the dollars and cents, or the paperwork. 

Back in 2011, Dr. Bradley (Brad) Klontz, Dr. Sonya L. Britt, Jennifer Mentzer, and Dr. Ted Klontz co-authored “Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors: Development of the Klontz Money Script Inventory” for the Journal of Financial Therapy. As you might imagine, I’m a fan of their work.  

On page 10 of the report, they introduce the idea of money scripts. While there are several hundred, they fall into one of these four (4) broad categories: 

Money Avoidance
Avoiders tend to say things like: “I do not deserve money.” “It’s hard to be rich and a good person.” Fear, anxiety, or disgust are the most prevalent emotions.

When it comes to taxes, this script might show up as abdicating the responsibility of organizing your financial documents and making financial decisions to others. 

Money Worship

Worshippers tend to say things like: “Things would be better if I had more money.” “Money would solve all my problems.” Their main emotion is anger – at themselves, others, and the “system.” 

When it comes to taxes, worshippers may feel entitled to skipping out on paying their taxes. 

Money Status
This script tends to find people saying things like: “You can have love or money, but not both.” “Rich people have no reason to be unhappy.” The main emotion here is pride and insecurity.

When it comes to taxes, those for whom status is important tend to pat themselves on the back for how much they pay in taxes, or how little they pay compared to their peers.

Money Vigilance

This script tends to find people saying things like: “You should not tell others how much money you have or make.” “Money should be saved not spent.” The main emotion here is anxiety.

When it comes to taxes, they are afraid of making mistakes – even going so far as wondering if it’s worth hiring a CPA/accountant.

Weird, But With Lessons

As the journal study reminds us, our money scripts are often subconscious. And while one of the above categories might be a dominant script for us, we might float between them depending upon the circumstances and the context thereof. 

That said, which script is the dominant one showing up in your relationship with money and ushering you through the 2024 tax season? 

I don’t ask to have you traipse down the shame alley. Rather, I ask to invite you to zoom out and look for lessons and opportunities to do things differently moving forward.

If you don’t have a quarterly review/check-in process, might that be a practice you pick up this year? This will help you stay organized, keep track of expenses, and maybe even implement some tax-saving strategies you previously under-utilized.

You might have heard me say how every expense needs to fight for the right to be on your income statement. If you don’t already track your spending, now might be a good time to start. 

Looking at your spending habits and what inspires them can be really useful for making adjustments if any are necessary. Or, if you discover you’re not “feeding” your goals as much as you thought.

Likewise, you might also realize this is an opportunity to use the feelings that surfaced during this tax season to: 

  • Take greater control of the condition of your finances and take them to the next level, and 
  • Work with a partner to do so.

You might not be ready or need a 6-month engagement. Instead, Focus Sessions might be just what will get you the breakthrough you need to expand your vision, awareness, and literal and proverbial wallet. 

This is one way to use your experience of and lessons from this year’s tax season for greater financial growth, empowerment, and success. 

Oh, and if you’re reading this to further procrastinate, I hope this gave you just the mental and time break you needed. Now, get back to it! 🙂

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