TAX time is near its halfway mark and stress is mounting for Australians yet to lodge their return.
Research has found that millions of us find doing tax stressful, but fortunately there are ways to reduce the worry.
Psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute, Dr Suzy Green, said doing tax could feel overwhelming amid searching for invoices, receipts and spare time.
Dr Green said three powerful and scientifically proven techniques to manage stress at tax time were:
• Goal setting, but making sure the deadline was realistic to avoid setting yourself up for failure, and finding a buddy to hold you accountable;
• Doing some mindfulness activities to refocus if you found yourself stalling;
• Simplification of systems to manage multiple bills or track your tax-related expenses. “There are many apps on the market designed to do just that,” she said.
Dr Green has partnered with amaysim, a mobile phone company that is expanding into other household utilities such as energy, to help tame tax time frustration.
Amaysim has found people are procrastinating about doing their tax returns, and CEO Peter O’Connell said one way to smooth the process was to consolidate bills with one provider.
He said “knowledge is power” and people should try to understand what deductions were allowed — particularly in today’s world with more work being done in home offices.
Money is a motivating factor for many people, and one of the best ways to stop procrastinating about tax is to think of the end benefit. A majority of taxpayers receive a refund and new data from the Australian Taxation Office shows the average refund is almost 300.
H & R Block director of tax communications Mark Chapman said by mid-August 4.6 million tax returns had been lodged and 3.3 million refunds handed out. “More than half of all returns have still got to be lodged,” he said.
“People find tax very complicated and don’t engage with their taxes during a year.” This created extra stress at tax time “when the chickens come home to roost”, Mr Chapman said.
“A tax agent can tell you what you can claim, the documentation needed and what is assessable.”
The cost of a getting a simple return done can be as low as 00, while those with more confidence can try the ATO’s free online myTax service that pre-fills most of their data and can be completed by some people in less than 20 minutes.
Previous H & R Block research found almost half of Australians were stressed about doing tax, with women more worried than men.
The best stress relief is to make sure it doesn’t happen again next year. “Do whatever you can now to take off pressure for next year’s tax time,” Mr Chapman said.