Tax time. The period of time from January 1st to April 14th is perhaps the one annual season that trumps even the holidays as the most stressful time of year. Not only is the act of filing taxes just as (or even more) expensive than the gift-giving season, it’s undeniably way less fun! I have had my own past go-rounds with the IRS, which were memorable enough to instill in me a determination to do things early, right, and thoroughly from now on. I’m still in the process of adjusting to the fact that there’s literally an app for everything—including filing my taxes. I have organized this list into four organization apps and four filing apps. I hope these apps will help make preparing and filing your taxes easy, painless and rich in refunds!
Phase 1: tax time organization apps
- Evernote: Evernote is the ultimate free digital organizer. You can create digital file folders for notes, receipts, income statements, charitable donations and financial statements. Evernote integrates with gmail and scanner apps to make digital storage of hard copy documents a breeze. If you begin using Evernote at the start of a new tax year, by year's end you’ll already have every bit of information you need to file your taxes available, in order, when you need it.
- Expensify: Whether you own your own full-time or part-time small business, work as a contractor, or just want to itemize expenses, Expensify is a free app that integrates with email and scanning tools to capture expenses as they happen. The app even works offline!
- Mint: Mint is an awesome, free app that integrates your budget, bank account and financial accounts all in one place. You can track your income, spending and saving; run real-time reports; schedule prompts, bill payment alerts and updates; as well as access your financial data from anywhere in the world. While it’s understandable to feel concerned about permitting a digital app to have access to your sensitive data, Mint has been around for years and is protected by the same type of encryption software that your bank uses.
- Slice: If you like to shop online (who doesn't these days?), but have trouble keeping track of what you spend where and when, Slice is the free app for you! Slice works by partnering with your email inbox. It will track your packages, send you price drop alerts, and store all of your online shopping receipts in one, secure location. During tax time, Slice will effortlessly serve up every online receipt you’ve generated over the past year just when you need it.
Phase 2: tax preparation apps
- IRS Free File: As long as your annual income is $58,000 or less, you can use the IRS's Free File software to file your taxes. If you make more than $58,000, you can still access the IRS's free, online, fillable forms. Free File also offers state return forms for many states. While state filing fees vary, some states allow you to file state tax returns for free using the IRS system.
- IRS2Go: Gone are the days of ponderous paper forms and hour-long, phone, on-hold times. Today, the IRS offers you all the functionality of private tax preparers. With this free app for Android and iPhone, you can check the status of your refund, access your tax data, request a copy of your return, find local tax preparation assistance, and even send the IRS a tweet!
- TurboTax® SnapTax Mobile: This app is available in English and Spanish for Android and iPhone systems. The app and federal filing is free while state filing is $14.99. The app also integrates with other handy, free apps that help you itemize charitable donations and deductions, track the status of your refund, estimate the amount of your refund and more.
- H&R Block 1040EZ: This handy app is free to use with a $9.99 filing fee for both federal and state tax returns. You can also snap photos of your W-2 and import the data right into the app. The app will automatically review your paperwork and alert you about missing or inaccurate data. You can also integrate the app with H&R Block's tax preparation service (if you find you need more help with your return).
NOTE: While the apps might be free where noted, you may need to pay a filing fee once you actually transmit your return.
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