[dropcap]M[/dropcap]aybe this year it’s time to evolve your tax preparation strategy—out with the shoebox full of receipts and last-minute panic over your small-business tax bill and in with more modern methods of dealing with Uncle Sam. Here are five ways to leverage mobile technology to make tax time simpler, more accurate and less stressful.
Mobilize your Sales and Data Collection Efforts
If you’re still processing payments by hand or through a clunky desktop interface, it’s time to upgrade and join the mobile revolution with tools like Intuit GoPayment. Usually consisting of two parts—a physical credit card reader that plugs into your phone or tablet and an app that you run on the same device, GoPayment and other data-collecting tools, work much like any point of sale terminal. Just swipe a customer’s card and have them sign on the dotted line with a fingertip. GoPayment emails receipts and, more importantly, keeps track of your income, sales taxes and fees when you integrate with QuickBooks.
Estimate your Tax Bill
Start by getting a solid estimate of what you’re likely to have to pay or get back at tax time. Tax estimation apps like TaxCaster aren’t the most sophisticated tools—they are freebies, after all—but they can help give you a quick look at what your tax burden is likely to be. Just plug in some basic information about your income and deductions, and TaxCaster gives you the bad news (or the good) so you can start saving or celebrating early. Expect best results if your taxes are straightforward—for example, if you’re self-employed and file your business income as part of your personal return.
Scan Receipts Without Wires
Tax time typically means a mountain of receipts from the prior year. You can hang on to these documents for years, or you can go digital and get rid of the paperwork for good. You don’t need a fancy setup to scan documents. The Ion Audio Aircopy Wireless Scanner is a slim wireless device that can digitize many of your printed documents and send them wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. A built-in, rechargeable battery means the Aircopy can go anywhere you do, and a companion app lets you preview documents while they’re scanning, so you’re sure you’re getting a clean copy.
Get Professional Assistance
Lost in the minutiae of arcane tax laws? Fire up Ask a CPA and get professional help from a real accountant on the fly. This app not only features built-in answers to thousands of common tax questions but also lets you contact an actual CPA in real time if you weren’t able to find what you were looking for. The information is basic (it’s free, after all), but it can at least get you started down the right path.
Make Sure the Check’s in the Mail
Wondering about a refund check? Dig into the IRS’s own app, IRS2GO, which lets you track your refund status, request copies of your prior tax returns and receive daily tax tips direct from the agency. Tax prep help is also available via a referral system that helps you locate a nearby volunteer tax assistant who can guide you through the process of filing a return.