These Apps Make Tax Season So Much Easier

by Collette Reitz

Speaking as the daughter of an accountant, you might think that I'd have extensive knowledge about how to file a yearly tax return. Unfortunately, I've grown accustomed to the the easy route of simply handing over my (relatively simple) tax forms to my father and waiting to be told where to sign. This year, in an effort to get more involved than merely perfecting my signature, I'm looking for other outlets to assist me in my tax filing mission. With a little digging, I've discovered there are plenty of affordable options available (some of them are totally free). So, here are five tax apps for iPhone that will easily help you file your taxes well before the deadline.

This year's tax filing deadline is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. You get a couple of extra days to file and pay your 2017 taxes since April 15 (the usual deadline) falls on a Sunday this year, and Washington D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day on Monday, April 16. Even though you have two extra days, you'll want to get your 2017 taxes done as soon as possible.

Like I said, there are plenty of online resources available to make filing this year's tax returns a breeze.

1. TurboTax

The TurboTax Tax Return app helps you e-file your taxes right there on your iPhone. All you need to do is take a picture of your W-2 form(s) with your phone and answer a few basic questions. Seriously, TurboTax does all the work for you as you figure out your tax refund amount (or if you owe taxes). You can also easily access your account from your iPhone, iPad, or computer as you file since all of your information is securely stored in your TurboTax account.

Some processes (such as filing 1040 or 1099 forms) come with an added cost, but if your taxes are pretty straightforward, you can see if you are eligible to use TurboTax Freedom for your tax filing needs. If you qualify, you can file your state and federal taxes for free.

Still a little confused about the process? Tax professionals are also available to answer your questions, but it will be an added filing cost. Honestly, though, if your taxes aren't too complicated, you should be able to breeze right through the process in the TurboTax Tax Return app.

2. H&R Block

The H&R Block Tax Prep and File app connects you with H&R Block tax filing services. As long as you have your tax form(s) handy, you can simply upload a picture to the app and get started. It costs nothing to begin filing with H&R Block More Zero, but again, if you have filing needs that aren't covered in the free version, there will be an added cost.

If you're owed a tax refund, you can get more for your money with H&R Block. One perk that H&R Block touts in the app is that you can boost your tax refund by opting to direct all or part of it to an Amazon e-gift card. If you choose that route, you'll receive a 5 percent refund bonus from H&R Block.

The app also has a help center you can utilize for a cost, but if you're all set with your return after going through the free filing questions, you can e-file directly from the H&R Block Tax Prep and File app.

3. TaxSlayer

The TaxSlayer — File Your Taxes app does exactly what it says it does. Once you download the app, you'll enter the information found on your tax form(s) by easily snapping a picture of whichever forms apply to you. You'll then enter your information based on guiding questions in the app, and then you'll know whether you owe money or if a tax refund is coming your way.

If you're filing a 1040EZ form, then TaxSlayer Simply Free is perfect for you because you can file your taxes at absolutely no cost, and you can enter all of your information right there in the TaxSlayer app. If you have other forms like a W-2, then it will cost you $17 to e-file your federal tax return, but you can also utilize the complimentary email and phone tax filing support if things get a little tricky.

No matter what you need help with when it comes to filing your 2017 taxes, you can probably find it in the TaxSlayer app. If you don't want to pay, though, you can simply utilize the free refund estimator and then file for free elsewhere.

4. TaxCaster: Tax Calculator

This app doesn't e-file your taxes for you, but it is a great resource if you want to see what your estimated tax refund looks like. The TaxCaster: Tax Calculator app is furnished by TurboTax, so if you like what you see, you can then continue on using TurboTax to e-file your federal tax return.

In the TaxCaster app, you can upload images of your 2017 tax return form(s), and then the app uses that information to give you an estimated refund amount. Plus, TaxCaster can also forecast what your 2018 tax refund might look like based on the new tax reform bill — but I'd make sure to finish up your 2017 tax return before you play around with next year's numbers.

5. IRS2Go

This helpful app keeps tabs on the status of your tax return. IRS2 Go doesn't e-file your taxes, but it is like a one-stop shop for all of your tax information. If you do need help filing, the app directs you to free tax software that fits your needs. Once you file your tax return, you can easily make a payment in the app if you (unfortunately) owe money this year. Alternatively, if you're getting a tax refund, you can track the status of it until it is deposited in your account.

Since it is an official app of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it has plenty of free answers to any questions you may have about the tax filing process.

Of course, filing your year-end tax return is not the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but it does need to be done. Thanks to resources like these apps, though, filing your 2017 tax return can be less complicated. Plus, since these tax apps are loaded with the most updated tax laws, you can file knowing that you're likely getting the most out of your tax refund — and more money in your pocket is as good a reason as any to file your 2017 taxes as soon as possible.