8 tax apps for easier and faster filing

Hate sitting down to do your taxes and then waiting for your refund? Take advantage of these tax apps for your smartphone and tablet to file your return in record time.

By Stacy Johnson Feb 13, 2013 4:34PM

This post comes from Jeffrey Trull at partner site Money Talks News. 


Money Talks News logoFiling 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, tax apps 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 allowing you file from your smartphone or tablet, tax apps can also help you organize receipts, track donations and file an extension.

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 from TurboTax to quickly estimate your refund.


After you answer a few questions about your income, withholdings and deductions, TaxCaster displays your expected refund. You can also test how changes to your income and deductions will impact your taxes next year and adjust withholding accordingly.


TaxCaster is available free for both iPhones and Android phones.


Woman sitting on steps with smartphone © Image Source, Image Source, Getty Images2. File by photo with SnapTax

Filing taxes from your smartphone is all about simplicity and speed. TurboTax's SnapTax combines both, boasting that 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. Answering a few simple questions allows you to file your return directly from a smartphone.


SnapTax works only 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 iPhones and Android phones; it 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 works only when filing a 1040EZ.


The H&R Block 1040EZ app is free for both iPhones and Android phones.


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 iPads.


This app is similar to tax software you'd find on the Web; 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 iPads and Android tablets. Filing federal returns is free, and state returns 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 photos and store the values of noncash 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 iPhones.


6. Keep digital copies of receipts with Shoeboxed

For filers claiming business expenses or deductions on their returns, managing receipts can be a pain. Between keeping track of paper receipts, categorizing expenses and tallying up totals, dealing with receipts is often 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 iPhones 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.


When a user inputs the necessary information, the request goes directly to the IRS. The creators claim that 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 99 cents 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 eager to get it.


With the IRS' 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 iPhones.


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