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It’s an amazing thing – tax season rolls around each year at thesame time, but it seems that every year we get caught off guardwith the “oh no, not again” mindset that can derail us from actiondead in our tracks.

If you’re tired of fighting the vicious cycle that can often beas deflating to your energy-level as the dollar seems to be at yourlocal grocery store these days, then try incorporating a few ofthese tips to help you sail through your taxes this year:

1. Start now: As the saying goes, “there’s no time like thepresent.” Even if you’re just organizing your thoughts about how totackle this year’s tax season differently from years past – it’ssmart to start today. The secret is to not get stuck in the thoughtprocess at the expense of not taking action. If you find yourselfgetting stuck in this first step, why not take your laptop to anoutdoor setting and use your wireless Internet tofree your thoughts with a change in scenery?

2. Make a plan: That’s right – get out a piece of paper and apen and write down an action plan with deadlines associated witheach step. In other words, give yourself a specific number of daysto organize your paperwork (receipts, income forms, etc.) into onecentral location. Next, give yourself a timeline to break thatpaperwork out into subcategories (household, medical, child care,etc.). As with most things in life, small steps make any processmore manageable.

3. Assess the situation: If you’ve been doing your own taxes inthe past and not much has changed in your life that would warrant aneed to approach your taxes differently this year, then plan tocontinue doing them yourself. If, however, you have experienced amajor life change like a divorce, home purchase (or loss), sendinga child off to college, etc., it is recommended by many taxpreparers that you use a professional service instead since theyare more familiar with the new changes you are facing and how tobest incorporate them into your tax profile.

4. Go back to your plan: After you’ve decided whether you’regoing to continue to do your taxes yourself or hire a professional,now is the time to go back to your plan and modify it as needed. Ifyou’re going to use a professional, start asking friends, familyand co-workers for references since the best endorsement will mostlikely come from someone you already trust. If you’ve decidedyou’re still going to prepare your own taxes, research some of thegreat online resources that have kept current with the changing taxlaws and give yourself a deadline to complete this as well. If allthis research sounds daunting and time consuming, rest assured thatwith something as powerful as super-fast 4g Internet serviceit’ll go a lot quicker than you think.

5. Get started: OK, your plan has been revised and due dates areset. There’s little left to do except make sure that you haveattained each date’s benchmark so you can progress to the next one.It’s truly that simple, and time will pass a lot quicker for youwhen you have a clearly delineated plan to work from. You useinstructions in just about everything in life – so why would youever go into something as daunting as tax season without a similartool?

It should go without saying that you should double-check yourwork (and this should in actual fact be one of the action steps onyour plan), but you’d be surprised at how many individuals turn ininformation that contains errors. And sure, while these errors willeventually be caught by the Internal Revenue Service, they couldpossibly delay any return you are eligible to receive or worse,result in a tax audit.

Now, instead of being frightened to the point of inactionbecause of this possibility, get your pen and paper out and startthe process – just make sure you include a step to check yourwork.