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Tips for tackling those taxes this weekend

IRS tax forms. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
IRS tax forms. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's Saturday morning newsletter, The Weekender. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

We use the term “taxing” to describe things that can be physically or mentally demanding — and tax season is often just that. Coordinating W2 forms (particularly for the many of us that may have changed jobs in the last few years), figuring out deductions and just simply finding the time to sit down and do it all can be overwhelming, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

I took the time to do mine a couple of weeks ago, and as a younger taxpayer, that involved a few calls to my parents and a lot of Google searches. I’m always haunted by one time, years ago, when I misread my return and didn’t realize I owed the state some money. I ended up receiving a letter in July that year threatening to repossess my assets (I was in college and lived with my mom; I didn’t have any assets) unless I paid up, which I did promptly. In fear of a repeat, I’m extremely careful while doing my taxes. The anxiety-inducing ordeal has since become comedic fodder for my family at parties.

Now, we’ve still got a few more weekends — seven, to be exact — before this year’s April 17 tax deadline. And while the weekends were made for more fun things than tax forms, the relative down time can provide a good opportunity to knock out this pesky task.

But it doesn’t have to be confusing and intimidating. Here are a few ways you can make your tax experience a little better:

  • First things first: Listen to this NPR Life Kit episode on the the steps you should take to prepare to file your taxes. Most of us didn’t learn how to do our taxes in school. So, consider this “Tax Filing 101.”
  • Listen to music. Nothing too relaxing, though — you don’t want to nod off. Here’s a hilarious playlist on Spotify full of tax-themed tunes.
  • Call a friend. Between calls to my parents, it was nice to FaceTime friends while I worked through my taxes. Setting a date with a friend to do your taxes can also help you both carve out time to do them, and help you hold one another accountable for those few hours. (Some professionals even recommend this as a strategy for focusing.)
  • Have a snack on hand. Because you deserve to treat yourself, that’s why. Might I suggest some DIY dumplings?

One helpful reminder: The IRS announced last month that most people don’t have to include most special one-time payments from the state on your taxes. (In Massachusetts, that means you don’t have to worry about those special rebates issued last fall if you claimed the standard deduction.)

P.S.— Changes could be on the way for Massachusetts taxpayers next year. Gov. Maura Healey unveiled a new $750 million tax reform plan Monday, aiming to provide “significant savings” for families, renters and seniors. The bill still needs legislative approval, but I highly suggest reading this breakdown of the plan from our weekday morning newsletter, WBUR Today.

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Hanna Ali Associate Producer
Hanna Ali is an associate producer for newsletters at WBUR.



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