It’s that time of the year again, when you have only a few days left and you’re taxes still aren’t done. Luckily, mine are, so I have time to share a few apps with you. We’ve compiled five of the best Android and iPhone apps for managing different aspects of filing your taxes on the go. Some of these apps help estimating taxes or checking on refunds, one will actually file your taxes, and two contain helpful reference material. In any case, make sure you e-file your taxes if you’d like to get your refund within 10 days.
The official IRS smartphone app for Android and iOS devices is pretty bare bones and doesn’t allow you to file your taxes on your smartphone, it does let you check the status of your tax refund and get updates from the IRS. It also has numbers and times when you can call and ask questions. If you e-filed your taxes, you can check on their status in this app within 72 hours. You can download IRS2Go for free on the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store.
If the IRS app isn’t doing it for you, H&R Block has a free, more fully featured, app available on Android. H&R Block will let you check your refund status, but also has a Help section full of terms and answers to basic tax questions and a checklist feature that helps you create a tax filing to-do list for yourself. It also has a tax refund estimator that will give you a fairly accurate guess at how much you can expect to get back (or pay in). If you still have questions or need extra help, you can set up an appointment at a local H&R Block office from within the app. You can even upload documents so your tax pro will have them on hand to look at. If you have some basic questions that you want to research on the go, H&R Block may be a good option. You can get it on Android and iOS.
H&R Block 1040EZ
If you have a very straight forward return to file – so unbelievably straight forward that the IRS actually named the form you fill out “EZ” – then H&R Block has an app that can handle filing your impossibly simple tax form. If you are single or married and filing a joint return, have income of $100,000 or less, rent or lease, and have no dependents, then you can file through this app for $10. It’s just a matter of answering simple questions, running an error check, and submitting for e-filing. Most of your information can be imported easily by either taking a photo of your W-2 in app or using the Smart Import feature (another $4.99). H&R Block 1040EZ is available on iOS and Android.
If you’re taxes are excessively simple (similar to H&R Block 1040EZ’s requirements: one job, one state of employment, minimal deductions, make you less than $100,000, etc), the TurboTax SnapTax may be the best way for you to file your taxes. It allows you to answer some basic questions, make a profile, and take a photo of your W-2 or 1099-NT. In theory, you could finish your taxes in minutes. Not sure if you’re qualified? It’s a free download and after you answer some basic questions, it will tell you if you can use the mobile app to continue or if you need to use the full online version of TurboTax to proceed. If you are capable of using the phone, you’ll have to download a $20 key to file, making it nearly twice the price of H&R Block.
The only downside to SnapTax is its simplicity. Sometimes the app doesn’t explain, in full, why it has rejected your application and it only gives you two options once you finish: continue online or start over. Starting over erases all of the, admittedly short, work you’ve just done. Still, SnapTax is one of the few options for filing taxes on a smartphone – and it works. It is available on the Android and iPhone app stores.
Though TurboTax and H&R Block are probably the most notable names in the taxes game, TaxACT has its own offering that it believes is worth a download. TaxACT Central is its resource center, designed to help you understand all the ins and outs of your filing form. There’s a checklist to help you make sure you have everything in order, a help center for any questions you may have, and a calendar that will make sure you don’t miss your filing deadline. TaxACT Central is available on iOS and Android.
BNA Quick Tax Reference
Like IRS2Go, this app isn’t pretty and it doesn’t explain itself well. However, it does provide some valuable reference material, should you need it. Mileage rates, corporate tax rate schedules, individual tax rate schedules, standard deductions, retirement plan limits, and more are all in here in unfiltered tables. It’s available on Android, iOS, and BlackBerry, so you can check out the reference materials on a plethora of devices.
Yes, this is another TurboTax app, but it is a bit easier to use and more detailed than H&R Block’s Tax Central Tax Calculator. TurboTax is the leader in its category for a reason; its apps are functional, pretty, and easy to use. Obviously, this is an app for those with relatively simple taxes and a single job. You don’t have to sign up to use it. Simply enter your wages, marital status, earnings, and deductions and TaxCaster pumps out a quick estimate of what you kind of refund you might receive. The app is available on Android and iPhone, and if you’re bored, an online version is available as well.
That’s about it…
While we’re impressed by the array of smartphone apps that TurboTax offers — SnapTax, MyTaxRefund, and TaxCaster — and are glad to see H&R Block offer simplified version of it’s full blown app, there currently aren’t many options to file using your phone. We’re not quite sure you want to file on your smartphone, but it would be nice to have a few more options just in case. Hopefully app makers will get on the ball when next tax season rolls around.
Updated April 5, 2013: Added a couple new apps and links. Fixed a few facts!
Article originally published April 12, 2012.