Tax problems typically have a profile and so do the people who create them.
This is the profile of someone who creates a tax problem:
- Knowingly or unknowingly violates tax laws.
- Poor or no financial planning.
- Makes errors on tax return (self, or tax preparer).
- Lack of money to pay taxes.
This is the profile of a ‘problem’ tax personality:
- Fear of the unknown.
- Not taking responsibility.
- All of the above.
All of these keep the person from taking action to fix their IRS problem so they can get on with their life. They’re “stuck” right where they’re at, and their life will not progress in this area until they take action to seek help with their IRS problem.
When you put the profiles together you get tax problems. For a small number of people, these behaviors and traits seem to completely define them. They complain about anything. Someone else is always at fault. While this extreme is the exception, procrastination is the norm for my clients. I’m proud of my clients because they’ve taken the step in getting professional tax help in dealing with this difficult problem in their life. In that sense they are being very brave.
The fuel of procrastination is the desire to avoid the real or perceived pain of their IRS problem. They also often have a lack of knowledge which causes their fear or anxiety. Some of my clients have gone years worrying about their tax problems before finally picking up the phone and calling me. When they do, many are elated to hear that their tax problems are common, and that there’s a way to fix things with the IRS.
My best advice for dealing with tax problem procrastination is to take one thing at a time.
First step, get educated right? No, not for procrastinators. You just get stuck in an endless loop of passive Internet research. Instead, write down a small goal for today and do it. Make it really simple at first and something you can accomplish on your own. This will get the ball rolling. Something like, ‘write down 5 things I’ll enjoy when I fix my tax problem.’
A good next step is to contact someone who can help. I’d suggest you call because it’s a more active form of action than an email. But, if a call feels daunting then use email. The IRS Tax Advocate is an example of someone you can call. You can also call an experienced tax attorney to take advantage of both their expertise and the protection of attorney-client privilege.
I’m not going to tell you things are easy. Dealing with an IRS case is not fun. When I work with clients I must ask them to give me a lot of financial information and documentation. If they are non-filers, they must begin filing certain tax returns. If they are non-payers, they must begin paying current estimated taxes or correct tax withholdings. But people can deal with this when things are spread out on a monthly payment. Even if the news is not what you want to hear, you’ve taken the first step. And procrastinators know that once you begin anything, it’s easier to take the next step.
For many, their tax problems are far less severe than they have imagined. I can’t tell you how many people have minor tax issues and imagine that they’re going to jail! Don’t do this to yourself. Believe it or not, reality can be your best friend, not the monster we often make it out to be.
I also want to encourage people to see these characteristics for what they are, a series of past behaviors and traits. Current or past behavior need not define us or our future situation. While a character trait like procrastination may be your go-to response under pressure, people have proven just as able to change once they become conscious of their own responses and actions.
I’m not trying to be your new psychologist or motivational coach, but I am saying that I’ve seen people turn their financial situation around completely once they found the courage to act.
For my clients it’s about fixing their tax problems. And the major cause of that change wasn’t a tax lawyer like me, but an individual just like you.
Until next time,
Jeffrey I. Fouts, Tax Attorney
You can put off your tax problem, or put us to work.
Here’s a bio of sorts. I’m happily married with two kids. I’m a real small town tax lawyer (Ellijay, pop. 1,584) not some fictional marketing character. I’ve represented tax clients against the IRS in all 50 states, and in 21 foreign countries. I have 18 years experience, thousands of satisfied clients, about 8 critics at last count, and an A+ BBB Rating.
I’m a member in good standing of the bar and have active memberships in courts from Georgia to Washington D.C., including the U.S. Supreme Court. My competitors covet my Google ranking but my clients covet my sound legal counsel. I deal directly with my clients and have a small, tireless staff. You can put off your tax problem, or put us to work.