Blog Post | The Case for Doing Taxes with Friends!
The Case for Doing Taxes with Friends!
“Woooooooo I love doing taaaaaaaaxes!!” … said no one with ADHD. Tax Day in the U.S. is April 18th and if you feel any dread just by seeing that, know you are not alone. Getting started on taxes is a common challenge I’ve heard from my individual ADHD coaching clients and those participating in our new coaching group, Calm & Simple Money. If you’ve ever said, “I've got to get started on my taxes, but I just can't,” let's talk about why taxes are legitimately hard for ADHD folks and how to actually get them done in an ADHD-friendly way.
We have to keep in mind that ADHD is an Executive Function disorder and completing taxes requires many different Executive Functions, such as Working Memory, Focus, and Goal-Directed Persistence. For example, taxes come due once a year, and remembering everything we need to complete them (1099s, W-2s, etc) is hard on our impaired Working Memory. We can have trouble remembering what we did yesterday but now we’re supposed to remember a complicated process from a YEAR ago?
Second, taxes are hard for folks with ADHD because it requires us to get started on boring, tedious tasks (e.g. logging into accounts, sorting through receipts). This is because ADHD brains are always on the search for dopamine and our brains get dopamine from the opposite of taxes … activities that are new, exciting, novel, surprising, or stimulating. It’s not hard to see why we like to choose TedTalks over 1040s.
Third, once we do get started, it can be hard to maintain focus and persist. Noise distractions or running into snags we didn’t anticipate can take us off course. And it’s frustrating! Anyone else ever had a meltdown over resetting a password?
Understanding why taxes are hard for ADHD brains helps us put the issue into context. We have ADHD symptoms showing up here! It is not for lack of trying. I know you’ve been trying so hard. I’m asking you now to let go of trying harder and instead, try differently.
One bonafide, surefire way to make doing taxes easier? Do them with a friend! Have a tax party for goodness sake! Being able to talk out loud and being in the same Zoom/room as someone else are huge dopamine boosters. Increased dopamine in ADHD brains makes remembering, getting started, and persisting (especially with anything boring or tedious) much easier.
Case in point: Accountants have thriving careers for a reason. So. many. people. need help with their taxes! I’m willing to bet if you start talking about wanting help to get started on your taxes in day-to-day life, someone else will say “Oh my goodness me too!” and snap you up on your generous offer. Check with your book club, your neighbor, your kid’s friend’s parent, online gaming buddy or (bonus points) ask someone from your ADHD support group!
Again, if it’s been hard to get motivated to do your taxes, you’re not alone. Pairing up with someone means there’s a 1000% better chance you’ll actually start and persist. What have you got to lose?
Important note: Consult tax professionals if you are seeking tax advice. The tax buddy/body-doubling idea is for help taking action when you already know what you need to do but are having a hard time starting.
Riley Karbon, PCAC
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC