Today is dreaded Tax Day which means that people in the United States must file individual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.
Not to worry for those who aren’t prepared to file your taxes today. The IRS allows you to file an extension which gives you until October 15 to file. Thank goodness right? There is more time if you need it!
Taxes are confusing under even the most normal of circumstances. According to CBS News, the U.S. tax code is more than 73,000 pages long. Just figuring out what to pay eats up an estimated 6.1 billion hours of our time each year.
But if you are filing as a widow or widower this year for the first time, I send you my condolences. I’ve been there and it’s a hard place to be. You are deep in grief and you just want everything to stop. Yet the world around you continues to go on and it’s jarring to face reality. Taxes are just one more thing from a list of many that are now your responsibility as the surviving spouse.
With all of the emotional upheaval you are trying to deal with since your loss, I’m sure taxes are the very last thing on your mind. Or at least they were for me.
Maybe your spouse was in charge of this responsibility and all you had to do was sign the papers. Or maybe you were involved and helped gather papers, receipts and other financial essentials to prepare your taxes with your spouse. Either way, your financial future is now in your hands.
But the good news is that there are lots of resources out there and if you feel overwhelmed by doing your own taxes then it’s okay to get or ask for help. Give yourself a break.
You aren’t alone in your confusion. I get help with my taxes every year and I feel good to have found an accountant I can trust. Tax laws change all the time and there is no way the average person can keep up with them. I use and need an accountant now and even before my husband died because neither one of us was good at that kind of thing. We would gather our receipts and statements together, talk about some stuff we weren’t sure of and then make an appointment to talk to the accountant.
The first year after my husband died was particularly difficult. Going backwards in the checkbook and other financial papers forced me to relive the year and all of the ups and down of hospitalization, doctor’s appointments and other events that I didn’t really want to think about. But the next year was a little easier and the next year after that a little easier too.
It takes time to figure out what works for you. I did gain confidence in setting up my own system and keeping track of the household expenses and I bet you will too!