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Organize and file your taxes with your smartphone

These helpful apps make filing your taxes a little less painful, from start to finish.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech, Health, Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
3 min read

TaxCaster can predict what you'll owe or get back from the IRS.

Sharon Profis/CNET

Few of us like to do our taxes. Entering numbers over and over, lengthy questionnaires and looming fearing of a large tax payment all make the yearly process feel tedious and exhausting.

Luckily, in recent years our smartphones have become great tools to manage your taxes from start to finish. With an army of apps, you can take the sting out of preparing and filing your 1040s, get your refund in no time and move on with your year.

Find out what you owe or if you're getting a refund

Before you even sit down to do your taxes, you can get a general idea of what you'll owe or get back in a refund. TaxCaster by TurboTax, available for iOS, Android and on the Web, gives you an snapshot of your tax situation and all you need is your W-2 and other income documents.

Just enter a bit of information about your filing status, dependents and income, then enter any tax breaks and deductions and TaxCaster will show you if you owe Uncle Sam or if he owes you and how much. You can use the tool even if you don't have the exact numbers from last year, but the more precise your information, the more precise the snapshot will be.

Corral and back up receipts

Hoarding receipts and invoices to itemized your deductions? Keep everything organized and safe by scanning those slips of paper now so when you sit down to do your taxes, you're not hunting around for that one receipt. But before you run out to buy a scanner, head to the app store.

Evernote's new Scannable app (iOS only) quickly scans your physical invoices, receipts and any other important slips of paper so you can have a digital copy. Scans are crisp and clear, even in less-than-ideal lighting and you can back them up to Evernote, where you can tag and organize them. You can also share them via message, email and iCloud.

If you have an Android phone, try Scanbot, which can scan any document and automatically save it to your cloud storage account, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or Amazon Cloud Drive. You can edit your scans before you save them, tweaking the lighting and orientation.

Lastly, if you think you'll itemize your taxes next year, get into the habit of scanning necessary receipts as soon as you get them, so that they're ready for you next tax season.


With the H&R Block app, you can take a photo of your W-2 to get your income details for your return.

Sharon Profis/CNET

Snap to import your W-2s

One of the most cumbersome parts of filing your taxes is typing in the numbers from your W-2. You can streamline the process with two apps, the TurboTax mobile app and H&R Block's 1040EZ 2014 app, both available for iOS and Android. These two apps let you snap a photo of your W-2 to quickly import your income and withheld tax information, without any typing. The apps simply grab the numbers from the document and enter them for you. You'll need to verify the information of course, but it's a simple way to shave a few extra steps off your taxes.

If you have a simple return, such as you're filing as single with one job and the standard deduction, you can finish your return right from either app. For those with more complicated situations, you'll want to save your progress and then sign into TurboTax or H&R Block's website to continue your return and be sure you don't miss anything.

Track your refund

Congrats, you've filed your taxes and you're done! If you're expecting a refund, know that it can take some time to get that check in the mail or the direct deposit into your account. An easy way to track the status of your return and find out when you can expect that windfall is to use IRS2Go, an Android and iOS app straight from the Internal Revenue Service.

Punch in your Social Security Number, filing status and exact refund amount and the app will tell you if your return has been submitted, accepted and when to expect your refund. It even tells you which form of payment you requested, just in case you forgot.

As an extra bonus, the app shows you where you can find free tax help in your area and gives you links to videos from the IRS with tips on preparing your taxes.

Armed with these apps, tax season should be a breeze -- or at least less painful. Got any favorite apps to help tackle your taxes? Share them in the comments below.