Tax time doesn’t have to hurt with these tips, tools, and resources
Let’s be honest here–tax time sucks. Whether you’re filing business or personal returns (or both), it’s typically very stressful. Even with a CPA, I still spend a ton of time pulling records together, getting the stuff to my accountant, and meeting with him for the bad news. And if you are going it alone, taxes are all the more devilish.
There are two things that in theory make taxes a bit more tolerable:
1. Maintain good records. Good record keeping makes tax preparation easier, helps avoid missing deductions, and prepares you if the unthinkable occurs–an audit.
2. Know your deductions. This is easier said than done as tax deductions can change every year and are needlessly complicated. Still, you need to know which ones would apply for the current year and make sure that you have the records to support the deductions you take.
Of course, we all know we need to maintain good records and know the tax laws. The more important question is how exactly we do that.
The good news is there are a lot of mobile apps, tools and resources that can help you get on top of your taxes. We all know about the top tax software options like TurboTax. In this article, I’ve dug a little deeper to find resources you may not have used in the past.
For example, there are mobile apps and other tools that allow you to keep all the receipts you’ll be needing in order to claim and justify a deduction and to know more about your taxes and the tax filing process. And to add a silver lining to your tax filing cloud, there are also mobile apps that estimate your tax refund and when you could expect to receive it.
1. TurboTax Mobile Apps
Everyone knows of TurboTax for business and personal returns. TurboTax allows you to easily make sure that you have everything you need to cover when filing your taxes. It takes you through the entire process step by step and even does the computations and all that. But do you know that TurboTax has a line of mobile apps that allows you to fully maximize your tax returns and even make filing a whole lot easier? These are:
a. Turbo Tax for iPad – Enables you to use Turbo Tax on your iPad so you can do your taxes even while you are away on business.
b. TaxCaster – Using this mobile app, you can estimate just how much tax refund you can get just by inputting your basic information and then letting it do all the work. No need to know all the tax laws; you just get an accurate estimate of your refund.
c. MyTaxRefund – If you are expecting a tax refund, this app keeps you updated on just when you can expect to receive it.
d. SnapTax – You can actually snap a picture of your W-2, answer a few questions, and file your returns.
You can check out all of these mobile options on the TurboTax Mobile & Tablet page.
If you have dreadful organization skills or have a hard time holding on to your receipts, you can use ShoeBoxed. You only have to scan or snap a photo of your receipts and upload or email these to them. ShoeBoxed will upload all your receipts so that you can manage and sort them using its user-friendly interface.
Come tax season, you will be able to export your images and have them ready for use with your tax filing application. No more wasting your printer ink and paper.
It is definitely worth the fees you pay per month, which could be as low as $10 to $50, considering that you can also use ShoeBoxed to keep track of your business card and create easy expense reports. With ShoeBoxed, you won’t be needing your filing cabinets anymore as this app accepts just about any business document you have.
Another solution for those who hate to keep track of little pieces of paper is NeatReceipt. This app is a godsend to those who do not have an iPhone or an Android phone, yet want to be able to keep track of their receipts even while on the road. The app helps you organize your paper documents and receipts.
NeatReceipt is a portable scanner that you use to scan your receipts and other documents. It uses a text recognition software that figures out what is important in the document. With NeatReceipt you can throw out your paper files and keep a highly searchable digital record on your computer or on the cloud. You can then create tax and expense reports that you can use in Excel, TurboTax or Quicken.
I accomplish the same thing with my Fujitsu ScanSnap.
4. Tax Central
A mobile app from H&R Block, Tax Central can help you determine the terms you need to know when doing your taxes. It can help you make sense of the whole tax filing process. Tax Central offers you a great checklist of things you need in order to file the correct taxes. You can also use this app to get an accurate estimate of your refunds, much like what TaxCaster does. While this is geared more towards the individual taxpayer, you can still make use of it to learn about the different terms, and get the latest tax news.
If you are really, really stumped and on the verge of tears, you can use this app to find a tax professional and schedule an appointment.
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but the IRS actually offers a ton of helpful tax resources. Here are a few of the resources I’ve found to be particularly helpful:
If you are a new business owner, you will want to get the IRS’ Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop. This site gives you the basic for small business taxation that you can take at your own pace.
If you need answers to specific questions, you can visit the IRS Video Portal. In here, you can conduct search or browse the topics they have for both personal and business returns. For example, if you are interested in how to avoid penalty and interest charges, you can check out this video.
If you have problems keeping up with what to do and when to do it when it comes to taxes, you can visit the IRS tax calendar. You can also download and install a desktop calendar.
Published or updated February 5, 2013.