With tax season in full swing, it's easy to get stressed out about filing your return. Fortunately, there are a few free apps that can help make the process easier. These free tax apps will help you do everything from estimating how much your refund check will be -- as well as when you can expect to receive it -- to automatically e-filing your W-2s after snapping a photo of the forms.
If you don't have children or dependents, make less than 100K a year, don't own real estate and have income rolling in only from W-2 forms, interest or unemployment, TurboTax SnapTax (opens in new tab) is the absolute easiest way to file your taxes electronically--as long as you have an iPhone or Android smartphone.
The app essentially holds your hand through the process of submitting a 1040EZ form, even showing you how to rip your W-2 to get just the portion of the page that you need. Then, simply line up the frame and use your smartphone's camera to snap a photo. The app slurps your information, asks you a few painless questions and shoots everything over to the IRS.
While the app is free to download, it costs $24.99 to e-file (prices vary on the desktop version). It's not a big change from last year's version, but this iteration gives you the option to try out the app without signing up for an account. Afterward, it holds your information for an hour in case you want to go through with the process.
For people whose tax requirements are more complex than simply filing a 1040EZ, there's TurboTax for iPad (opens in new tab). The iPad 2's camera isn't advanced enough to get the same OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capability as the iPhone, but there are several advantages to using this app instead of its SnapTax iPhone counterpart: You get free tax advice straight from inside the app (hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time), it can handle your taxes if you have rental property, investments or are a small business owner and the app can even re-import your information from last year (if you made a TurboTax account then). Just like SnapTax, TurboTax for iPad takes you through the entire process step by tedious step.
The app is free to download, but TurboTax charges $29.99 for federal tax return filing and an additional $36.99 per state for state tax filing.
TaxCaster (opens in new tab) is essentially the same tax calculator found in TurboTax's desktop software, but in the more lightweight form of an app. Enter the basic information about your lifestyle, and TaxCaster serves up an estimate of your refund (or what you'll end up owing). It's a simple way to check your status without the hassle of actually filing your taxes first.
MyTaxRefund (opens in new tab) answers the one big question taxpayers have once they're through with their filing: "Where's my refund?" Users will be able to see the status of both federal and state returns--whether they're pending, accepted or rejected, as well as when they might be able to find that highly anticipated check in the mail. Plus, you don't have to be a TurboTax customer to use the app.
H&R Block Mobile (opens in new tab) is the company's official mobile app, which lets you easily check the status of your Federal and state refunds. The app also integrates information about brick-and-mortar H&R Block offices, allowing you to find the one closest to your current location, schedule an appointment or find a tax professional.
TaxSlayer (opens in new tab) is another decent option that makes estimating your tax refund a walk in the park. The interface features large touchable buttons and drop-down boxes (and it's optimized for iOS 6), letting you get that figure estimate with a few simple taps on your phone. For the actual filing part, however, the company requires that you visit its full desktop site, TaxSlayer.com.