Waiting to File Your Income Tax Return On The Last Day Its Due May Be Hazardous to Your Health!

April 12, 2012
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As noted by Nicole Ostrow (nostrow1@bloomberg.net) in Bloomberg Businessweek, April 11, 2012 edition, citing a study published in the April 11 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, traffic fatalities in the United States rise by 6 percent on April 15, the typical tax return filing deadline. The number of fatal accidents may be a result of stress, the study says. “Stressful deadlines contribute to fatal mistakes on U.S. roadways,” says Donald A. Redelmeier, one of the study’s authors. The study says that polls show tax day is the second most stressful day of the year. In 93 percent of cases, a small change in behavior could have prevented the fatal accident, said Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at Toronto University. His research showed that the number of pedestrians and passenger fatalities also rise on tax day. The study gathered tax deadline data from the IRS and fatal road crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the past three decades (1980-2009). It then compared the number of fatalities with a control day one week before the filing deadline and another control day one week after. The research showed that there were 226 fatal crashes for each of the 30 tax days and 213 fatal accidents for each of the 60 control days. Redelmeier said drivers who are stressed should remember to buckle their seat belts, obey the speed limit, avoid alcohol, minimize distractions and refrain from driving recklessly. Despite the advent of the Internet and e-filing, the study showed an increase rather than a decrease in fatal crashes in recent decades. Asked about this finding, Redelmeier said, “Electronic filing might have inadvertently caused people to leave things to the last minute.” The risk of a fatal accident does not depend on the time of day, Redelmeier said, noting that risk “does not increase just before the deadline.” The Filing deadline this year is Tuesday, April 17th; perhaps filing it on Monday the 16th might just prevent an accident!