Best iPhone Apps to Help You with Your Taxes

Once again it’s the most boring and stressful season of all: tax season. When you’re preparing your own taxes, it can be quite tedious, but it must be done. Kudos to those of you who don’t rely on a tax professional and attempt to DIY. But everyone might benefit from a little help, and you don’t have to go it alone. If you have an iPhone, there are lots of great apps that will help you through the process so you can get your taxes done quickly and correctly (the first time). Here are the best iPhone apps to help you with your taxes.

TurboTax SnapTax
If you have a very simple tax return to file, this app will help you do it quickly and easily from your iPhone. There’s never been a better way to file if you have no dependents, don’t own a home, have only one form of income, and made less than $100,000 last year. If you fit those qualifications, download this app and be done with your taxes in minutes. Just take a picture of your W-2, answer a few simple questions, and e-file instantly. E-filing costs just $19.99, but downloading the app is free.

TaxCaster by TurboTax
Another excellent, free app from TurboTax, the TaxCaster will help you predict the amount of your refund. You’ll enter information about yourself and your income, such as your filing status, dependents, withholding, compensation, donations, your home, and more. When you’re finished, it will provide you with a dollar-amount estimate of your refund. While it won’t do your taxes for you and isn’t guaranteed to be exact, it’s a great way to get an idea of what you can expect from your taxes this year.

MyTaxRefund by TurboTax
The third awesome tax app from TurboTax is MyTaxRefund. If you e-filed your taxes this year, it will help you track the status of your return. It’s free, and you’re not required to have e-filed through TurboTax to be able to use it. You can check on the progress of your Federal and State e-filed returns with ease, anytime and anywhere.

Dictionary of Tax Terms
When you’re preparing your own taxes, you’re bound to run into a few mystery terms that you just don’t fully understand. This app costs $0.99, and it will define for you more than 600 tax terms. It’s searchable, you can save the entries you need to remember, and it works entirely offline.

Calculator
There are lots of calculator apps, but the 99-cent “Calculator” is the best way to go. It has an attractive interface, and it’s easy to use. It includes a variety of scientific functions for all your calculating needs. As you do your taxes this year, it’s essential to have a good calculator on hand, and this is one for you.

EITC Calculator
Did you know you could earn up to $5,751 back with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? This free app will help you determine if you qualify for an EITC. You’ll simply answer a few basic questions, such as your marital status and income, and this app will estimate how much you might qualify for.

 

Carl Schmidt is an experienced tax professional who shares his personal finance tips with you as a hobby. To keep his writing clear, he uses the world’s number one grammar checker.

How to Choose a Tax Professional

Your taxes are very important, and they’re something you don’t want to screw up. If you don’t feel comfortable doing them yourself, you’ll want to hire a tax professional to do them for you. Hiring someone to do your taxes can be costly, but it can also save you lots of time and headaches, and it can help you maximize your return. It’s incredibly important to hire someone who is both trustworthy and knowledgeable. Here are some tips on how to choose a tax professional.

Types of Professionals
There are two types of tax professionals that are usually best: enrolled agents (EA) and certified public accountants (CPA). Enrolled agents are licensed by the IRS, and they’re required to constantly continue their tax education. Certified public accountants are licensed through state exams and have met education requirements. It’s a good idea to go with either an enrolled agent or a certified public accountant. These tax professionals will be listed with either the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA).

Tax Preparation Chains
There are also lots of tax preparation chain offices that can help you prepare your returns, such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. While they may be much cheaper than hiring an EA or CPA, you get what you pay for. Tax chains often use seasonal employees that have been quickly trained. They’re just not as reliable as other trustworthy professionals. If you have a very simple return, you might consider getting it prepared by a chain. However, remember that you’re ultimately responsible for your own return.

Referrals
Check out the AICPA or NAEA for directories of tax professionals near you. Or, ask around for referrals from your trusted friends, family, and co-workers. Lots of people you know may have someone they’ve been using for years that they’ll be happy to suggest to you. Whenever you get a referral, be sure to still ask important questions and check on their certifications and qualifications.

Background Checking
You’ll want to thoroughly check out any tax professional before you hire them. Your money and your taxes are incredibly important to you, so you want to take care when entrusting anyone else with them. You can perform a background check, and check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure your professional has never been accused of fraud or anything criminal. Ask them for their Preparer Tax Identification Number, and check their certifications with either the AICPA or NAEA. Finally, ask them for some references and follow through with contacting them.

Compatibility
You want to make sure a tax professional is compatible with your own personality. Do you feel comfortable with that person doing your taxes? Also, find out how they run their business, such as how and when they can be reached, and what services they perform. Hiring a CPA or EA may be costly, so make sure you know exactly how you’ll be charged. Ask them what happens if your tax return ends up being audited, because you’ll want someone who will represent you. Most importantly, make sure your tax professional is experienced with the type of taxes you need prepared, and find someone who will work with you to find the best outcome for you.

K. Villareal is a personal financial counselor. To make sure her clients understand her advice, she always uses a grammar checker.

Turbo Tax Free Edition Takes The Hassle Out Of Filing Your Taxes

With tax season approaching rapidly, many people have begun thinking about using software programs like TurboTax to help them prepare their taxes.  With the April 17 deadline rapidly approaching, now is the time to begin planning how you want to file your taxes this year.

TurboTax is one of the most popular programs in the country, and this year’s free edition is a great way to find out whether the software is right for you.  TurboTax software walks you through each step of the filing process, turning tricky tax topics into easy to understand questions that you can complete in just a few hours.

One of the major concerns that many people have when buying tax software is the cost of the program.  That’s one of the reasons that the free edition has become so popular.  The program helps you complete a basic federal tax return, although you will still need to file a state return.

If you need to complete a more complicated return that what the free edition can handle, there are a number of different products that can help.  Different versions are created for small business owners, those with significant investments, and people who have more complicated tax situations.

Whether you plan to take advantage of the free edition or you have used TurboTax before, this year’s program offers a number of features that make filing easier than ever before.  Don’t forget that TurboTax can import information from programs like Quicken or Microsoft Money to make filing even faster.  TurboTax can make the process of filing just a little less stressful.

The Effects Of Budget Cuts In The IRS

Budget Cuts Have Affected The Performance Of The I.R.S., Report Claims

Due to budget cuts and an ever increasing workload, the IRS is unable to carry out its primary duty of tax collection effectively. This is according to a report in Wednesday’s issue of the Internal Monitor, a publication of the IRS.

Budget cuts have led to staff reductions causing a huge backlog of work. Hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes are not being collected every year because of these changes. This is what the taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson claims in her report to Congress.

In order to discharge its mandate more effectively, the IRS has come up with a number of automated software to enable taxpayers file their returns without having to deal with costly audits.

A study showed that even when taxpayers file their returns correctly using the software, their refunds took too long to process.

Ms. Nelson claims that the due to budget cuts, the agency has resorted to using short cuts that undermine the rights of taxpayers. She now wants the agency’s budget to be increased and the tax code streamlined to make it easy for the average taxpayer to understand.

On the other hand, senior officials at the agency claim that while budget cuts might have reduced service quality, the tax collection system remained fair and balanced.

A senior official at the agency refuted claims that there is a link between erosion of taxpayer rights and the challenging budget environment as baseless and inaccurate.

The report came at a time when the mandate of the IRS has been extended to oversee the health care scheme proposed by the President and Congressional Democrats.