Photo (cc) by gailjadehamilton
According to the IRS, filing your taxes by mail can mean waiting six to eight weeks for your refund from the date the return was received. But these days there’s a faster way: using tax apps to e-file from your smartphone.
Of all ways to file, using a tax app might be the fastest and easiest. These apps can do the job in as little as 10 minutes, and some fill in your return automatically using a photo of your tax forms. After you e-file, your refund will usually show up within three weeks.
In addition to filing from your smartphone or tablet, tax apps can help you organize receipts, track donations, and file an extension.
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has more on tax apps to make filing your return faster and easier. Check out the following video, then read on for more.
Here are several apps to help you with your taxes from start to finish.
1. Estimate your refund with TaxCaster
Looking for some motivation to get your tax return in early? Use TaxCaster to quickly estimate your refund.
Answer a few questions about your income, withholdings, and deductions, and TaxCaster will display your expected refund.
You can also test how changes to your income and deductions will impact your taxes next year and adjust withholdings accordingly.
TaxCaster is available free for both iPhone and Android phones.
2. File by photo with SnapTax
Filing taxes from your smartphone is all about simplicity and speed. TurboTax SnapTax combines both, boasting users can file returns in 10 minutes.
SnapTax uses photo recognition software to automatically fill in your return with information from your W-2 form. After users answer a few simple questions, the return can be filed directly from a smartphone.
SnapTax only works for simple returns, as users are limited to W-2, interest, dividend, and unemployment income. Filers who own a home or make more than $100,000 ($120,000 if filing jointly) aren’t eligible.
SnapTax is free to download for both iPhone and Android phones and currently costs $24.99 to e-file one federal and one state return.
3. File free from your phone with H&R Block 1040EZ
The H&R Block 1040EZ app is just like TurboTax’s SnapTax with one key difference: It’s free to file both federal and state returns.
As with SnapTax, users photograph forms and fill in the rest of the information. The downside: This app comes with more restrictions than SnapTax.
Users need to be married or filing jointly, have income less than $100,000, can’t own real estate, and can’t have dependents. As the name suggests, this app only works when filing a 1040EZ.
The H&R Block 1040EZ app is free for both iPhone and Android.
4. File complicated federal returns free on your tablet with TaxACT
If you’re filing a more complicated return than the apps above can handle, try the TaxACT Free Federal Edition app for Android tablets and iPad.
This app is similar to tax software you’d find on the Web as it supports all forms eligible for e-filing. Users can access their return on their tablet or on a computer without having to re-enter information.
TaxACT Free Federal Edition is a free download on both the iPad and Android tablets. Filing federal returns is free, and state returns currently cost $14.99.
5. Track donations with iDonatedIt
Staying organized throughout the year can save time, aggravation, and possibly money when it’s time to file. With the iDonatedIt app, you can track deductible charitable donations so you’re not searching for receipts come tax season.
Created by certified public accountants, this app helps you stay in compliance with IRS rules on charitable contributions. Users can save descriptions, take a photo, and store the value of non-cash donations like clothing or household items. If you’re unsure what your donation is worth, iDonatedIt can help you determine fair market value too.
iDonatedIt costs $2.99 and is available for iPhone.
6. Keep digital copies of receipts with Shoeboxed
For anyone claiming business expenses or deductions on their return, managing receipts can be a pain. Between keeping track of a paper receipt, categorizing expenses, and tallying up totals, dealing with receipts is a hassle.
To stay organized throughout the year, Shoeboxed will digitize your receipts. Just snap a photo or download your receipt to the app. You can quickly categorize the expense type, and the information is neatly organized when it’s time to file.
A limited version of Shoeboxed is free for both iPhone and Android phones. The premium version starts at $9.95 per month.
7. File an extension with TaxSoftware.com 4868
TaxSoftware.com 4868, named for the IRS form used to file an extension, lets you do so with an iPhone.
Users input their information, and the request goes directly to the IRS. The app’s creators claim filing an extension takes only 30 seconds with their app – an important consideration when every second counts up to the midnight filing deadline on April 15.
TaxSoftware.com 4868 costs $0.99 in the iTunes App Store.
8. Track your refund with IRS2Go
Once your taxes are in, the hard part is over. But if you’re expecting a refund, you may be anxious to get it.
With the IRS’s official app, IRS2Go, you can confirm your return was received and track the progress of your refund.
You can also order old returns or contact the IRS for assistance.
IRS2Go is free and works on both Android phones and the iPhone.