This article is part of our Tech Your Taxes series, full of tips to help you get ready for Tax Day. Our first post was about managing all those pesky receipts, and our second was about what tech is tax deductible, in case you missed them! OK, on with it!
Back in college, there were those who pulled all-nighters, pounding Red Bulls to stay awake through their finals. Others typed out their term papers slowly and steadily, weeks before the deadline. As adults, we still probably fall into those two camps when it comes to tax preparation— hey, no judgments, some people just work better under pressure. As tax season is really breathing down our necks now, I found some of the best apps for taxes that can shave valuable time off the process. So, I raise a glass of something caffeinated and dedicate this post to those of you who savor a good last-minute adrenaline rush.
Track your personal and business expenses
Try: Ducky (iOS, coming soon to Android). It pulls in personal and business expenses from your checking account and credit cards, then helps you quickly sort them into the correct category for deductions. It’s set up kind of like Tinder, but here, you swipe personal expenses to the left, and business expenses to the right. Hot, I know. Tack on a little note or snapshot of the receipt to the transaction “card” to stay organized— keeping track of who you met with for a business coffee, for example, and why. The app then generates expense reports on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, with colorful pie charts showing totals of the categories. They’re exportable and formatted to synch with tax software like TurboTax and QuickBooks, or, pass the buck and send the report straight to your CPA. CPAs really dig pie charts.
Concentrate long enough to get them done
Try: Stayfocused (Windows), an app based on the Pomodoro time management method. A Pomodoro is 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break—it makes people very productive and efficient. The Stayfocused app pulls out all the stops: it tracks minutes and tasks, allowing for short breaks, but it also limits the amount of spent on social media sites, hides desktop icons that aren’t related to your task and even automatically pops opens files related to your dreaded task. Just try to avoid doing those taxes now, buddy.
Outsource it all
Try: Taxfyle (iOS) is a startup that lets you hail a Certified Public Accountant like you’d hail a ride service. “Oh, CPA! Please bid on doing my Form 1040.” Take a photo of this year’s W2/1099 and last year’s tax return, receive a quote back, and your personally assigned CPA files the taxes. Ahhh. The company claims the average cost is $158 to file, and that the average CPA signed up with Taxfyle has 14 years of experience.
Avoid a costly mistake
Try: Its Deductible Donation Tracker (iOS) works with TurboTax to help you track your donations through the year, quickly pulling them all together at tax time. If you make a lot of in-kind donations (stuff, rather than a gift of cash or stock), this app is for you—you’ll be surprised how much all those trunkfuls add up. And, the app helps you figure out how much your donated cast-offs are really worth. Was that lamp you dropped off at Goodwill worth $25 or $50? ItsDeductible uses a fair market valuation so you aren’t just guessing wildly. This accuracy can save you hundreds a year in taxes. Cha-ching!
Add the IRS to your squad
Try: Download the IRS2Go (Android, iOS), and you’ll be hooked up. You can make payments to the IRS, either directly from your bank account or using a credit or debit card. Now hopefully, the IRS owes you money, in which case you can check the status of your federal income tax refund a mere 24 hours after you’ve filed electronically. If you’re sweating bullets and in desperate need of tax advice, deep breaths—you’ll find helpful videos on tax prep, and the location of volunteers near you who can help you with your taxes. See, the IRS isn’t all bad.
Tune in next time and I’ll show you how to spend your tax refund in style! In the meantime, make sure you read up on how to manage all those pesky tax receipts, and learn what tech is tax deductible.
Images borrowed from The Everygirl