Taxes don’t have to be tough, though they do have to get done. Thankfully, we now live in a world where some of the most complex and intimidating tasks — ahem, filling out your 1040a — become far easier with the a little help from technology.
There’s no longer a need to sit at your computer with your TI-84 and a booming headache, as both Android or iOS now tout apps that allow you to manage different filing aspects from anywhere you choose. Some software helps you estimate taxes and check refunds, while others will give you a quick means for preparing taxes in advance and filing them on the move. Others still, serve as rich reference material, because, frankly, we can’t all afford our own taxman. Below are 10 of our favorites, from Expensifiy and My Block to TaxACT Express.
Although the official IRS smartphone app for Android and iOS devices is pretty barebones, it does let you check the status of your tax refund, make tax payments, and get updates from the IRS. It also provides numbers and times when you can call and ask questions, along with tool that lets you sign up for a slew of tax hints. If you e-filed your taxes, you can also check on their status in the app within 72 hours.
If the IRS app isn’t doing it for you, H&R Block offers a more featured app. Dubbed My Block, it will let you check your refund status and browse a notable help section that’s full of terms and answers to basic tax questions. The app also features a checklist that helps you create a tax filing to-do list for yourself, along with tools that allows you to plan your paycheck in advance and estimate the extent of your refund. If you still have questions or need 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.
Expensify isn’t tailored made for taxes per se, but it does help independent contractors or anyone else looking to further cement their deductible expenditures throughout the year. The straightforward mobile app allows you to capture receipts, track time or mileage, and generally make note of any expenses or attachments you have laying around. It can also automatically import credit card transactions and scan receipts to create expense reports — if desired — both of which you can later convert into IRS-approved eReceipts that minimize your paper footprint, and, more importantly, any tax-related discrepancies.
H&R Block’s Tax Preparation isn’t the same as the company’s My Block app. Whereas the latter serves as a vital source information and a means for quick planning, the former is more concerned with preparing and actually filing the taxes at hand. The free app culls and imports information directly from a photo of your W-2, whether you opt for the Free, Basic, Deluxe, or Premium edition of H&R’s service. It provides you with an in-depth look at what causes your refund to ebb and flow, along with cross-platform syncing and status updates regarding your return. Additional advice and free, in-person audit support also come standard.
Ask a CPA
Don’t let the dated looks and orange-coated interface fool you … Ask a CPA is a competent adviser designed to fit snugly in the pocket of your jeans. The simple app provides you with a host of basic tips regarding the latest tax changes, many of which span a variety of different categories, from alimony and dividends to adoption expenses and charitable deductions. However, the app also gives you the opportunity to ask specifics if your question hasn’t already covered within the app’s archives, to which CPA’s in your local area can then respond. It’s a fantastic resource for individual taxpayers, accounting students, and small business owners looking for answers to common tax questions. Now, let’s just hope your question fits in the given text box.
Next Page: Five more great apps for prepping and filing your taxes