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All Posts  /  DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS  /  February 28, 2013 

Going Mobile for Tax Day

There’s no doubt that preparing for the tax man is a daunting and much-dreaded task. But an increasing number of mobile apps make the job more portable and less paper-intensive. And while it may be too late to fully utilize all of these this year, think about which ones might better prepare you for the 2013 tax season.

Scott Flezar, Thomson Reuters’ Vice President of Strategic Marketing, Tax & Accounting, commented on the rapid growth in the use of mobile apps by tax and accounting professionals in K2 Enterprises: Continuing Professional Education for Accounting and Financial Professionals: “I think that it shows a real shift in mobile technology, from an ‘extra’ to an integral part of a business environment where the limitations of working on desktop PCs no longer exist.”

While Sandra Block of USA Today would agree, she also cautions: “Is it prudent to type sensitive financial information into a device you might leave in the back of a cab?” And there’s no question that your tax information is among your most vulnerable private assets. She follows a list of high performing apps with some tips on how to protect yourself from digital theft, namely:

  • Only download apps from known, reputable sources

  • Use passwords to protect your mobile devices

  • Consider products that help you locate a missing device

  • Consider products that let you erase information from a remote device

NBC’s GadgetBox divides apps into two categories – getting your tax documents in order and filing. These apps generally come from well-known off-line and desktop tax preparers, such as Turbotax and H&R Block. The Denver Post  and USA Today also share comprehensive lists. Check out these articles for more details on the actual apps themselves:

  • TurboTax for iPad – a major drawback is that once you start on your tablet app, you can’t transfer it back to TurboTax online. And if you’re a twentysomething with a simple tax return, try TurboTax SnapTax. (Actually, don’t try this if you’re a homeowner.) Just snap a photo of your W2, answer a few questions and file. Wow.

  • H&R Block at Home – look for it as HRB in the Apple store. They also have a simple return app called 1040EZ for Smartphone.

  • TaxACT – available on both tablet and as a smartphone app, this lets you prepare and file electronically.

If you’re interested in how these applications perform, check out PCMagazine’s “The Best iPad Tax Apps.” They give the highest marks to TurboTax, but say:

All three mobile applications are nearly identical to their online versions. They support the same forms and schedules. They offer guidance like their Web-based editions. They walk you through tax issues step by step, asking questions and depositing your answers in the right place on forms and schedules. They look the same and—for the most part— work the same. Very little has been left out, though there have had to be some minor interface modifications made.

All three companies should be congratulated for reproducing very complex applications for mobile use-and staying so true to the originals.

Going through the pain of the current tax season is often the best time to consider better organizing yourself for next. The above-mentioned articles include some great mobile apps that will make your personal financial mess into something much more streamlined. Suggested apps include:

  • Shoeboxed – to scan and organize your receipts

  • Expensify – turning your business expenses into IRS-approved eReceipts

  • Slice – scans your Gmail account for receipts, giving you an overview of your entire purchase history

  • Evernote – NBC calls this “the Swiss Army knife of note taking and capture tools,” giving you the ability to set up a tax notebook with sub-notebooks for various tax categories

Setting up these mobile apps now will undoubtedly mean a less daunting run-up to the next year’s Ides of April.  

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