Tax time is a chore for many Americans, particularly those who try to save a few bucks and file the paperwork on their own without any help.
Thankfully, there are a host of affordable products for tech-savvy taxpayers that can take some of the guesswork out of filing your taxes.
And best of all, some of them come free of charge.
Granted, there are few substitutes for a qualified tax professional with a human touch. Oftentimes, the biggest problem for Americans is not even knowing what questions to ask regarding their taxes, and having a certified public accountant or other expert is difficult to match.
However, a host of high-tech tools do a great job filling in your knowledge gaps and making the filing process simpler and less stressful.
Here are a few worth looking into:
Available for iPhone and Android devices, SnapTax claims to do your taxes in 10 minutes or less. Sound too good to be true? Well, there are limitations: You can’t own a home, you have to earn less than $100,000 ($120,000 if you file jointly) and you have to only have W-2, interest or unemployment income.
However, if you are one of the millions of Americans who doesn’t have to itemize, then filing your taxes right from your smartphone could be very appealing. Snap Tax lets you upload your W-2s by taking a picture of the form with your mobile device; it asks a few simple questions, and you’re all set.
The program is free to download but charges $24.99 to e-file finished returns (state filing is included).
In the old days, people used to keep shoeboxes of records for qualified expenses. But Expensify allows you to simplify things by going digital.
This simple program can be downloaded to any mobile device with a camera, and is a must-have for anyone bogged down with receipts. Whether you’re self-employed and taking a business trip or managing the local soup kitchen, Expensify allows you to take pictures of receipts and file them away for review. You can then sort by expense category, trips or other reports that you set up.
The app is free and available on all smartphones.
Bloomberg BNA Quick Tax Reference
The Bloomberg BNA Quick Tax Reference App for smartphones won’t file your returns for you, but is a powerful resource if you have questions about any item in the tax code, no matter how small.
Of course, the depth may only confuse you if you don’t itemize your return. But for those of us who have multiple income streams and multiple deductions, this Bloomberg app is easy to navigate and has a wealth of info.
The app is free of charge and available on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. It also already has 2013 tax info loaded up, too, to inform your financial decisions for the current tax year.
This mobile app doesn’t allow for filing of your return, but plugs you into the IRS so you can access your existing tax records on the go as well as check the status of your 2012 return after it’s filed.
There’s also easy access to tax tips, instructional videos and other educational stuff from the Internal Revenue Service if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
The app is free, and according the IRS website, should be updated with new features soon.
ASK A CPA
Confused about a specific part of your tax returns, such as whether gains from selling an antique car are treated the same as capital gains from a stock investment? Well, ASK A CPA has an archive of frequently asked tax questions and tips from certified public accountants to help you.
Best of all, if previously asked questions aren’t good enough, you have the ability to ask your own questions via the app or to locate a CPA in your area who is knowledgeable about your kind of situation.
The app is free of charge, but responses are not always guaranteed, and keep in mind the tips are commonly general in nature and not specifically tailored to you and the exact dollar amounts on your return.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.