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Dreading Tax Season? Consider these 5 strategies if you’re afraid you owe the government

With tax season currently underway, most people will find themselves in one of two camps - anticipating a tax refund or dreading the thought of owing the IRS. If you’re in the latter category this year, my heart sincerely goes out to you because I’ve personally been in that situation more than once. And because I’ve been there, I have several practical tips and Bible scriptures to encourage you and help you successfully navigate this tax season.

Tip #1 - Pray

This is always my first tip when facing a challenge because prayer truly changes things, starting with your mindset. If you take a few moments to express your concerns to the Lord in prayer and specifically ask for His guidance, you’ll be amazed at how doing this can influence the situation and direct your next steps. Additionally, when you pray, you’re also taking a proactive step to relax, breathe and relieve any physical and mental stress. Finally, please don’t be afraid or ashamed to pray because the Lord is already aware of the situation and knows what help you’ll need to move forward. And by praying, you’re inviting the Lord himself to intervene and share that wise counsel with you.

Psalm 4:1; Psalm 145:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:8

Tip #2 - Don’t delay filing your taxes

Even if you know for certain that you owe the IRS, please resist the urge to procrastinate on filing your taxes. This is because it generally takes lots of time to file and if you wait until the last minute, you might not get everything completed on time, making you miss the April 18, 2022, filing deadline. This makes matters even worse because you could be at risk for additional IRS financial penalties, fees and more.

Tip #3 - Ask for help

This tip is two-fold, suggesting that you ask for help with filing if needed and that you ask for help with paying back any taxes and fees owed. In the first scenario, if you’re having difficulty filing your taxes on your own, consider working with a tax professional to help you navigate the various forms.

Now, you might be thinking, “If I already owe money, why would I pay someone to tell me that?”

I can certainly understand this sentiment, but working with a tax professional can be helpful because he or she might help you identify solutions that could significantly reduce any taxes owed. I actually experienced this situation soon after my divorce. I assumed my tax bill would be horrible because I had to file “Married Filing Separately” that year. However, when I worked with a tax professional, he found additional deductions that I didn’t know I was eligible for and this ultimately made the amount I owed the IRS much less than I originally feared. Whew!

If it’s determined that you truly do owe the IRS money and you don’t have it available, the second scenario for asking for help becomes relevant. In this example, you can proactively contact the IRS and ask for help with understanding your options. In many cases, you can potentially request an extension or you can make a payment plan directly with the IRS.

Tip #4 - Think about your long-term repayment strategy

Once you’ve confirmed your payment options with the IRS, I highly recommend that you do two things at once: