Why do a lot of people procrastinate when it comes to doing Taxes?

Almost everyone I know (including me) wait until the last-minute to do their taxes and file them just before the deadline. What are the forces that tend to steer people towards this behavior?

I would like to propose a simple framework that many people use to make their choices, without any analytical reasoning. It is called the PIG and the APE method of decision-making.

Our innate drives, the PIG = Pursue Instant Gratification and the APE = Avoid Painful Experiences, take control of most of our unconscious decisions and guide us towards pleasure and away from pain.

The term “Tax” is perceived by the majority of people as a negative word, whether or not they will receive a refund or whether they owe more on tax day. This tends to make us not deal with it until some day beyond which not dealing with it will cause even more pain, such as penalties or fines.

At the same time, we can find more pleasurable or less painful things to focus our attention and move away from doing the taxes. These are often labeled as distractions. Distractions are nothing but less painful or more pleasurable options to what we perceive as painful experiences.

Just becoming aware of this pattern of making choices can enable you to evolve to a higher level in your decision-making.

For harmony,


About Krishna Pendyala

Author of "Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing SUCCESS and true HAPPINESS". I am a life coach, speaker and workshop leader. My vision is to enhance life on our planet by raising awareness of the ego, in a simple manner. My commitment is to empower men and women make better choices to achieve joy and fulfillment, without protracted struggles or huge personal crises. I believe we can create an enlightened society where inner awareness empowers people to thrive in harmony.
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6 Responses to Why do a lot of people procrastinate when it comes to doing Taxes?

  1. Joyce Wilde says:

    I like your insight, Krishna. For me it’s gratifying to have things done, and painful to have them hanging there… My computer crashed a couple weeks ago when I tried to submit my taxes. I cannot describe how thankful I was that I am not in the habit of waiting until the last minute – as my discomfort in the situation would have been greatly magnified.

    • Hi! Joyce,

      You are the kind of organized person who would be the exception. Good for you and people like you who can help raise awareness with the perspective you share.



  2. anil says:

    HI Krishna!
    I often wonder why do some people wait till the last minute while others just do it. I am one of the people who wait till the last minute. I agree with you that being aware of this action and seeking PIG is a driving force for many actions.

    Indian Spiritual leader Rajneesh wrote “World is not a problem; the problem is your unawareness”

    It is easier to keep deadlines that bring PIG. People will easily finish a task that they are focused on and they are fully aware of ..not only the task but the whole big picture.

    By the way, great website and looking forward to increase my inner awareness!

    • Thank you Anil for your comment and the compliments.

      Procastination is an interesting phenomena where both the PIG and the APE are being fed at the same time, i.e. they get what they want at the same time. The PIG gets pleasure through doing something else and the APE avoids the perceived pain. This is a tough combo to overcome. It takes a strong will and discipline to put both the PIG and the APE aside.

  3. Nagaraj says:

    There can be real/imaginary reasons to postpone filing taxes. I usually start tax prep as early as Dec 2nd week. But I do not submit it until the deadline, because of the following reasons.
    1. Tax code is complicated and there are no experts who understand it accurately and completely, period.
    2. No matter how hard I try, I might have misunderstood and done some mistakes and there are no guarantees of getting it right. I have tried (on purpose) to ask the same question to two different IRS employees and got two different answers.
    3. So, there probably is safety in number and so holding off sending the tax return until the last minute is a reasonable defense in my mind against an innocent mistake.
    Should I change this stance considering that IRS is getting better at spotting the anamolies no matter under what the number of tax returns is my own buried under? May be. But it does not hurt one way or the other to continue the practice.

  4. You raise some great points, Nagaraj. My post was about procrastination in general and it around tax time and I thought it would present relevant context. I agree with all your observations. Many people, however, still delay doing taxes to the last minute due to sheer procrastination.

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