Whether your procrastination is making you consider a tax extension, you're considering not filing at all because you don't have the money, or you're filing for the first time, listen up: Put your fear aside.
You're avoiding the IRS (or your accountant, your broker, your financial planner, your credit card company, your health insurer, etc.) because you're afraid of the outcome.
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it'll be okay. Now, listen: The IRS is actually very accessible and (gasp!) pleasant. Simply talk to the IRS about your issues.
Call the IRS with any questions or concerns. We're serious. Their number: 1-800-TAX-1040. According to IRS spokesperson Nancy Mathis, "People are always pleasantly surprised after they deal with our customer service representatives."
Think of the IRS as any other company with customer service reps there to help you (rather than haunt your sleep and then audit you). "We realize its been a hard, difficult time for people financially this year and we're willing to work with people." If you're having trouble paying off your taxes, ask the IRS about a manageable payment plan that can stretch out over multiple years. Says Mathis, "We're willing to work with everyone who makes an honest effort with us. We can't waive interest but we can wave penalties."
Haggle with the IRS? You heard it here first. Call up, be polite, and ask what the IRS can do for you. If you're having trouble facing the issue entirely? Dr. Mary Greshem, an Atlanta-based psychologist who specializes in money issues with women, recommends finding a supportive person who will sit with you while you make the hard phone call. What you need is the support of a friend or other non-judgmental person.
"Unfortunately," Dr. Greshem says, "putting your head in the sand will cost you money, as the longer you put off dealing with money tasks, the longer you will be without the information you need to make good decisions."
So, don't let your anxiety convince you to avoid the issue entirely. Stop the vicious cycle and talk to the IRS directly.
You can take another deep breath first, if it helps.