The tax deadline is fast approaching, so you need to file quickly. Luckily, there are some awesome apps that let you file right from your iPhone or iPad. Though these apps are free to download, all the ones that allow you to e-file will require an in-app purchase.
See? It doesn't have to be painful at all.
Note: We will note that arguably, you shouldn't need specialized tax software or companies to prepare your taxes — the U.S. government has entertained several proposals throughout the years to simplify its tax code, but lobbyists from the top tax prep companies have spent millions of dollars to squash those plans to save their own bottom line. This isn't necessarily an argument against using these services — many of iMore's U.S. writers still use them. But it's worth being informed.
TurboTax Return App
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When most people think of doing their own taxes, TurboTax is likely the first name on their mind. Intuit's app easily lets you get your tax return prepared and e-filed in a jiffy. It pulls all your information from a photo of your W-2 and it fills in all the correct tax forms for you. Although it automatically fills it in, always double check the information to make sure you're getting the best return. You can also go between your iPhone, iPad, or Mac whenever you need so you can keep on completing your return.
If you upgrade to the Deluxe for $60, Premier for $80, Self-Employed for $120, or TurboTax Live version for $180, the app will even search through more than 350 tax credits in order to maximize your return. The ExplainWhy feature is a convenient way to learn exactly why you're getting the refund you're getting, so that you can avoid an audit that could go south.
H&R Block Tax Prep and File 2016 returns
The other big name in taxes, H&R Block's Tax Prep and File app lets you quickly e-file after preparing your tax return in a step-by-step process. You can import last year's return from any tax-prep service, and H&R's question and answer method makes preparation easy, ensuring you don't miss anything along the way. This simple guide makes filling your taxes a breeze, and it doesn't hurt that you can do it for free.
H&R Block does offer a version that you can purchase, the Deluxe version for $35. This offer ensures that you get the best out of your return, but it's all filed in a similar way. You can snap a photo of your W-2 or add a PDF and the H&R app does the rest by filling in the appropriate forms. Always double check your forms and make sure that you didn't miss anything, and also make sure the numbers on all of your forms match the numbers in the return.
TaxAct Express is a quick way to file your taxes on your iPhone or iPad, and it starts with a quick interview to make sure it's right for your tax situation. That way you don't end up missing anything, which could cause you to get audited. You can file your federal and state taxes with TaxAct's secure e-file and direct deposit system.
You'll get step-by-step guidance in order to simplify every aspect of the process, and like the other apps mentioned, you can upload a PDF of your W-2 or snap a photo so that the app can do all the "paperwork" for you. TaxAct Express also employs two-factor authentication and Touch ID, so your information remains secure and confidential. Besides the free version of this app, there are also a Basic for $15, Plus for $30, Freelancer for $45, and Premium version for $60 that you can purchase to get the most out of your refund.
TaxSlayer offers several tax packages designed to help you prepare and file your federal and state tax returns and get the tax deductions to which you are entitled. Each version of TaxSlayer, Classic, Premium, Military, SimplyFree, and Self-Employed, let you prepare, print, and e-file your taxes, offer an accuracy guarantee, and let you upload last year's tax return.
Except for the SimplyFree version, TaxSlayer also focuses on getting you your deductions. For $17, TaxSlayer Classic also offers support for every type of tax form and IRS inquired assistance. The $37 Premium package offers IRS audit assistance, support from tax professional and priority support. The TaxSlayer Military offers the features of Classic for free to members of the military. All of TaxSlayer's plan pricing is for your federal return, while adding your state return will cost an additional $29 on top of the rest of these plans.
If you don't exactly trust filing your tax return through an app or you just want to get an estimate on your tax return, then you should check out TaxCaster. This is Intuit's free preparation app that lets you plan ahead to help you pay less in taxes or maximize your refund. In reality, this app is Intuit's way of determining the correct TurboTax product for you, but it can give you a good read on where you sit, so you can decide to file on your own or hit up a professional for help.
This app is perfect for those who like to plan ahead, as it can show you how much you could get this year and even can help you plan on an estimate for next year. This is a great way to have no surprises during tax season, and to plan ahead for the next year if you're saving for something big.
What to know if you owe
Hopefully you'll be receiving a big refund from your completed taxes but for those of you who end up owing the IRS, there are several payment methods available. Most people will pay their tax liability by direct withdrawal from their bank account or with a physical check. You also have the option to pay using a credit or debit card but you'll have to go through a 3rd party service and pay fees upwards of 1.99% on credit cards and a flat fee of up to $4 on debit cards. Except for a few fringe cases, those added fees basically wipe out any points or miles benefits when paying with a credit card. If you're unsure which payment method to use, we'd recommend reaching out to a tax professional for assistance.
How do you file?
Do you use tax apps or do you prefer to file online or with an accountant? Got a favorite filing app? Sound off in the comments below.
Updated April 2019: Added up-to-date screenshots and the TaxSlayer option.
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Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.
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