Do you and your spouse fight when you do your income taxes? Do you dread going over your expenses and income each year, and so, put it off until April 14? Do you brace yourself against the inevitable disagreements that come up when you talk finances with your spouse? You can keep a happy marriage during income tax season with some planning ahead.
To begin with, make some early decisions. When you agree on some basic premises about tax preparation, the process is smoother. Most relationships fare better if both partners are involved in decision making. Ask yourselves these questions:
• Are you going to do your taxes yourselves or hire someone?
• If you are going to a service, who will you hire? Who will make the call to schedule the appointment?
• If you do your taxes yourselves, how will you do them? Which software will you use?
• Is one of you in charge of saving receipts, or do you take individual responsibility? How do you track your income and expenses? Which software?
• How detailed do you want to be about verifying expenses and income? Are you comfortable with estimates or do the amounts have to be exact?
Once you have those questions settled, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Set two or three specific times to review and coordinate the process together. Don’t discuss your tax situation right before you go to bed at night. Try to set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted time, perhaps on a weekend. If you have disagreements about your budget or how money is spent, keep those issues for a different discussion. A relationship can only handle so much stress.
2. Keep an open mind. Remember you may not agree on everything. That doesn’t mean one of you is wrong. Be willing to compromise and shift your opinions.
3. After tense business meetings with your spouse, switch to something fun or relaxing. Nervous systems can get over stimulated, so help each other calm down. Take deep breaths; smile at each other.
Remember, it is just your taxes; it is just the Internal Revenue Service. If you get audited, well, you will deal with that if it happens. Keep the happy elements of your marriage intact. Tax seasons come and go; your marriage is a lifetime.
© Copyright 2010 by By Pamela Lipe, MS. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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