What Your Approach to Filing Your Taxes Says About You

Where are you with your taxes? An investigation of possible tax-doing strategies. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

You know it's tax season, right? It's tax season! That is to say, it's the very end of tax season and your 2012 U.S. income tax filings are due to the IRS Monday. (If you're using the U.S. mail, they need only be postmarked by that date. If you're e-filing, you're e-filing, no postmark necessary.) So, where are you with your taxes? Take a moment's break, or a moment to pat yourself on the back, and read this mini-investigation of tax-doing strategies.

Wait, What? This means you only just realized that you had taxes to do, by reading this post, or when someone in line at the grocery store grunted and said, "Ugh, taxes!" and you thought to yourself, taxes? Whatever does the word mean? Then you went home, or to wherever it is that you stay, and Googled the word, finding out far too many things in the process. You have probably recently time traveled to America in the year 2013 from Victorian-era London or Ancient Rome or the Mesolithic era, or perhaps you are an alien. Suggestion: Travel back when the IRS starts sending you demanding notes.

The Procrastinator. Oh, you. I know you well. You are me, or you were me, at one point in time. True story: There was a Monday in April a long, long, long time ago when I spent the day in my office cubicle attempting to do my taxes on my own after realizing the strangely affordable Russian accountant my old roommate had set me up with had "gone missing." Or maybe this was before he came into my life, and before he disappeared from it, taking all of my tax information with him. But anyway! That Monday I managed to get the right-enough numbers on the requisite papers and then went to the post office and waited in line for an hour or more to certify the letter and it was all really grueling and terrible, so much that I vowed never to let it happen again. In the time that has passed I have changed to a tax Overachiever. But Procrastinators still number many, and it's quite possible if you are this type that you will reach a point of crisis mid-Sunday and try to find an H&R Block to take your urgent case, which I also did once. You may or may not succeed. Suggestion: Become a Weekend Warrior (see below); hang in there. 

The Daredevil. One of our own at the Atlantic Wire is the hybrid-procrastinator type who's done his taxes, but simply hasn't finished them yet. The finishing part is perhaps the easiest, and you'll get around to it, you will, but you simply haven't yet. It's sort of like painting the entire Sistine Chapel except for God's finger and then, in a rush at the very last minute, finishing everything only to realize that God's finger and Jesus's don't touch (but you did that on purpose, right, Michelangelo?). Oh, the adrenalin! Anyway, our Matt Sullivan says, "I am so lazy about my taxes that I hired an accountant to do them but am still too lazy to fax them my e-file authorization, which takes 10 seconds." Suggestion: You'll be fine.

The "Rebel." Taxes? You scoff in the face of taxes. You haven't paid 'em in, like, a year. You think Americans shouldn't have to pay taxes, in fact. You don't drive on highways. You don't use social programs. You believe in living a government-free life. You might move to another country, or into the woods—at least, you're always talking about it. You complain and moan and groan but in the end you send your paperwork to the IRS and you pay what's due or you accept your refund and deposit it into your bank account and use it to buy stock in mutual funds. Or, maybe you are a bona-fide tax dodger. Suggestion: Moving's easy, it's the living that's hard.

The Weekend Warrior. You haven't done your taxes yet, but that's cool, you've got all weekend! And you work better when there's a deadline crunching up against you. The Wire's Philip Bump told me he plans to complete his taxes "as quickly as possible. By putting the Turbo in TurboTax" this Saturday and/or Sunday. It's not like he purposely procrastinated, nor does he hate doing taxes. "It's just not really something one prioritizes unless you're getting a big ol' refund," he said. Or, unless you are an Overachiever. Suggestion: Order in meals.

The Person Who Legitimately Doesn't Have to File Taxes. This weekend and Monday you are the luckiest person in the whole darn world. The rest of the time, you are a student, or a dependent, or someone who may be struggling to make more but who simply doesn't make enough money to pay taxes, or maybe someone who is paid under the table and is not going to report all earnings. This is you if you are single and made less than $9,750 in 2012. Suggestion: Check the "special cases" that mean you do actually have to file. 

Just a Guy or Girl Looking at the IRS and Asking Them to Love Him or Her. You did your taxes, oh, maybe two weeks ago. You haven't gotten a refund back, yet, but you probably will soon. You didn't even lie on your taxes, and you will never be audited (unless you are). Suggestion: You got it covered.

The Outsourcer. You may additionally belong to other categories listed here, but this is the place where you get named for not doing your taxes all by yourself, like my dad used to do, with a calculator and using a pencil first, in case he had to erase anything. (Let's call that type the "Lone Shark.") You may use H&R Block or TurboTax or maybe your aunt or uncle, who went to school for these things, helps you out, or maybe you hire an expensive or less expensive accountant. Maybe you keep all your receipts in a box and tote them to your accountant each year; maybe you just "guesstimate" (never tell). The point is, you don't do your taxes all by your lonesome, that's the thing, and you have no desire ever to try to do so. Suggestion: That's fine.

The Overachiever. You've already done your taxes, of course you have. You made an appointment with your guy or lady back in November, to get the cheaper session before March, and you went in February and you've already gotten your refund, for both federal and state, and you've stashed them away and are watching the interest accrue already, yum yum. Suggestion: Share this only with people who are also overachievers.

The Overachiever Whose Money Burns a Hole in Her Pocket. Not only have you done your taxes (like, two months ago or more, dude), you've also already gotten your refund and you've spent it. For you, tax season 2013 is a faint memory, but you really do like your new shoes a lot. Suggestion: Admire your shoes.

The Extender. There's still time! The tax deadline for extended returns this year is October 15, 2013. You can file Form 4868 to get an automatic extension. However, you're still supposed to pay what you owe by April 15 (which is sort of the problem, sometimes). That said, if you don't pay and you extend, you'll be subject to penalties and interest, but there aren't going to be IRS people knocking on your door, just yet. Suggestion: If you haven't addressed your taxes by Monday afternoon, this might be your best bet.

Insets via Flickr/chuck holton; Flickr/James Morris; Flickr/Salem (MA) Public Library.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.