Coping with tax time

By Rebecca Lott- March/2018

For years I have dreaded this time of year because I would have to pay the government big dollars I didn’t have. Some of my payments were equal to the value of a new car. It usually set me back for awhile and I would have to recuperate for months. In Canada, being single with no dependents, while collecting spousal support and an income in a lower tax bracket, is not a win win at tax time. Simply put, it is like running full speed into a brick wall.

I was actually jealous of people who got refunds at tax time because I don’t even remember the last time that happened to me. Some people would use their money for renos, trips and to pay things off. I would brace myself. If anything, my ultimate goal was to try and break even, pay minimally or come out as unscathed as possible. I seriously spent time praying for this. It rarely worked.

One thing I did learn from this challenge was to plan ahead and put money aside for tax time. I didn’t have a choice after getting kicked in the stomach a few years in a row. My accountant told me to take a percentage of my pay cheque and put it in another account for tax time. You could also work with your boss to take more off during the year so it won’t hurt as much later. I also learned that buying RRSP’s was a way to soften the blow and pay myself in the long run, instead of paying the government. Granted, I won’t see that til I’m 65, but I hope one day it will come back to me. Put some money into a tax free savings account if you can. Thankfully I have a very good financial advisor.

Now that I’m finally done with support payments, I am hoping tax season will look a little brighter next year. This is the last year I will take the big hit but I have learned how to reduce the stress that comes along with tax time and how to manage the anxiety. For me, the thing that helps the most is to have a designated folder for tax information. Throughout the year as I get receipts and income slips, I tuck them in the appropriate section and come filing time it is pretty much organized already. I also learned to do a lot of deep breathing when the accountant called to give me the verdict.

One of the things I learned early on was to let someone else do my taxes. Giving this to someone else who is skilled at it helps to alleviate that stress. Find a good accountant near you. They should be able to tell you how to prepare for the following year if you manage things right. They are very good at advising throughout the year if you have questions. I have been lucky to have a couple good ones along the way. Oh how I wish they were miracle workers, but unfortunately that is not the case. The right accountant can help you find tax write offs. You are paying them so let them help you.

Some people put tax time off til the last minute and it becomes a tedious task to get everything together. I prefer to make it as easy as I can on myself and choose to face it as soon as I can, rather than putting off the inevitable. I like to know where I stand so I can start to bounce back sooner. My advice would be GET IT OVER WITH so the anxiety and stress don’t have a chance to build and take their toll on you. Once you find out the damage, quickly figure out your recovery plan and get going on it.

At the end of the day, the most annoying thing people would tell me was that everyone has to pay taxes. Even Benjamin Franklin said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” My mantra has become try to stay positive in the face of adversity. 


  • Rebecca is a semi-retired educator and a community-minded writer.  She has worked as a journalist for many different publications, and she writes about a variety of topics. Rebecca's professional experience is an exciting addition to our team of content writers.