IRS launches iPhone, Android apps for taxpayers

The new mobile apps from the Internal Revenue Service can tell taxpayers when their refund is coming and provide some tax tips.

Everyone's favorite government agency, the Internal Revenue Service, has launched its own mobile application.

The IRS's new iPhone app
The IRS's new iPhone app

Released last week to iPhone and Android users, the free IRS2Go provides a few tidbits of information that could make April 15 a bit less stressful.

Those of us fortunate enough to qualify for a refund can find out exactly when Uncle Sam will be sending out that check. Entering your Social Security number (which the IRS says is masked and encrypted), filing status, and expected refund amount delivers the due date for your payment.

People who file their federal taxes electronically can check their refund status about 72 hours after they get an e-mail from the IRS acknowledging the receipt of their tax return. Those still doing things the old-fashioned way--on paper--will have to wait around three or four weeks after filing before they can learn when their refund check will arrive.

According to the agency, around 70 percent of the 142 million individual tax returns filed last year were done electronically.

Beyond providing the refund status, the app lets you subscribe to tax tips and updates sent each day during tax season and less frequently the rest of the year. IRS2Go also points you to the agency's own Twitter feed where you can learn even more about filing your taxes.

"This new smart phone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want when they want it," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a statement. "As technology evolves and younger taxpayers get their information in new ways, we will keep innovating to make it easy for all taxpayers to access helpful information."

The IRS has increasingly been moving taxpayers toward e-filing and encouraging them to access more information electronically as a way to cut costs. Last year, the agency announced that it would no longer mail paper income tax packages to individuals and businesses since all of that information is freely available online or through libraries and post offices. The IRS is also looking for other ways to take advantage of technology, especially the move toward mobile.

This phone app is a first step for us," Shulman said. "We will look for additional ways to expand and refine our use of smartphones and other new technologies to help meet the needs of taxpayers."

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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