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"Why do I ALWAYS put off my taxes?" Blame your DNA

If you’re bustling to beat the April 15 tax deadline take solace in the notion that your annual paper chase isn’t necessarily a character flaw but an inherited trait
BY BILL BRIGGS
If you’re bustling to beat the April 15 tax deadline –- as you did last year, and the year before that –- take solace in the notion that your annual, 11th-hour, coffee-binging paper chase isn’t necessarily a character flaw but an inherited trait, a new study claims.

Not that the Internal Revenue Service cares a lick about DNA. Just take-home pay.

But for serial procrastinators, such behavior is largely rooted in genetics and linked to gene sets that tend to make the same folks more impulsive, according to research published online this month in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“In some ways, people can blame their bad habits on their genes,” said study author Daniel Gustavson, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Heredity accounted for only half of the frequent procrastination pinpointed in the people examined.

The other big culprit in habitual dallying, researchers found, involves “environmental influences,” such as an ultra-busy life, stress, or the influence of friends.

“So it’s not necessarily all in the genes!” Gustavson said.

For many Americans, procrastination strikes hardest this time of year.

More than one in four tax returns get filed during the two weeks before the April 15 IRS deadline -– in total, 40 to 45 million returns, reports Teresa L. Clark, spokeswoman for the tax-prep company H&R Block. And those numbers don’t include consumers who ask the IRS for extra time: This season, accountants expect about 10 million extensions to be filed -– also during April’s first weeks.

“There is always room for improvement,” Gustavson said. “Controlling our environments is one way people can likely wash away the influence of their genes. For example, setting goals, and establishing reminders about following through on these goals.”

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