Tips To Reduce Tax-Time Tension

MILWAUKEE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nearly 14 million Americans will wait until the very last minute to submit their income tax returns, according to the IRS. For many of these tax filers, completing returns is a nail-biting exercise in frustration.

The latest Quarterly Quality Report released by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), focuses on how quality tools typically used by businesses can help individuals make tax filing less traumatic.

For years businesses have applied quality strategies to meet deadlines, avoid errors and increase revenue, says Debra Owens, an ASQ course instructor and spokesperson. It just makes sense for you and me to use some of these same basic tools to accurately prepare our taxes.

Taxpayers who have the greatest angst this time of year are usually the least disciplined when it comes to organizing. The Quality Report offers a detailed checklist of quality tools that can help make tax preparation easier:

1) Think of tax filing as a process not something you cram for at the last minute like that dreaded college paper. Use a well-known quality process called PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) to create simple steps that can help get taxes done more efficiently:

  • PLAN Gather all of the necessary information, read up on the recent changes and set aside the appropriate amount of time to make the deadline.
  • DO Make the process a family affair so everyone has an understanding of what it takes to run a household a great education for the kids. Chart your tax return items and then decide if you will prepare the forms yourself or select a tax preparer.
  • CHECK Double-check your work and think about filing electronically. The software has built-in safeguards that may relieve sleepless nights.
  • ACT Quality is a lifestyle. Incorporate what you learned from this years PDCA cycle to put you in control of next years tax filing.

2) Benchmark to avoid errors and audits. Concerned the IRS might single out your return for scrutiny? A common quality practice called benchmarking can signal if you are more likely to be audited.

Benchmarking involves comparing your own situation to that of others. For example, tax experts advise that some audit triggers include high income (frequency of audits increases with incomes exceeding $100,000), claiming many credits, deductions that are atypical for your income range and careless errors.

To figure out your own chances of being audited, you can look at statistics that the IRS makes available on some of these triggers and determine where you land in the mix, says Owens. This might help you to avoid the same mistakes others have made.

Owens notes that benchmarking can also help you avoid common tax errors. For example, it is well-documented that the most common mistakes filers make include not signing their returns, math errors, inputting wrong information, e.g. Social Security number, not attaching necessary documents, incorrect filing status or omitting income items. Working against a checklist of these common errors will help you to avoid the same fate and perhaps get you that refund a little sooner.

Please visit to view the complete Quality Report.

The American Society for Quality is the world’s leading authority on quality. With more than 90,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement and knowledge exchange to improve business results, and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools and training to quality professionals, quality practitioners and everyday consumers, encouraging all to Make Good Great®. ASQ has been the sole administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 1991. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., the 60-year-old organization is a founding partner of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a prominent quarterly economic indicator, and also produces the Quarterly Quality Report.