The annual Taxes and Savings Survey from Capital One Bank reveals that 85 percent of Americans expect to get a tax refund this year. Those taxpayers expecting a hefty sum back from the government are likely well aware that there is now less than a month until the Monday, April 15, filing deadline.
While the IRS predicts that the average federal tax refund will approach $3,000, most taxpayers still confess to some tax day-related anxiety. Many free tools exist to help the taxpaying public navigate the tricky waters of filing taxes. Here are a few:
"Attention online shoppers! This digital tool may be your new BFF!" So says CNN of Slice, which can pull all your purchase data from your email account, allowing you to compile a record of your online purchases. Offered for iPhones, Android and online, Slice can help find deductions you’ve long since forgotten about, giving you a browsable list than can be downloaded and exported as a .csv file.
The award-winning Bloomberg BNA Quick Tax Reference app (screenshot at left) is a convenient guide to answer tax questions within a few clicks. Find out about individual and corporate tax rate schedules, mileage rates, estate taxes, retirement plan limits and more. Information is available for tax years 2011, 2012 and 2013. The app is available for Apple devices, Android and BlackBerry.
Helping you organize your digital life, and more specifically your tax-related digital life is the widely used Evernote, available online and for Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows phones and tablets. Scan and store receipts, financial statements and W-2 forms, and anything else you need come tax time. Shared notebooks mean spouses can contribute and access information from anywhere. Evernote also offers text-recognition technology, making even hand-written documents searchable.
United Way Worldwide, in partnership with the National Disability Institute and Goodwill, is behind MyFreeTaxes.com, which provides free assistance for low-income Americans in filing state and federal tax returns. United Way is using inContact’s cloud-based contact center software to deal with major spikes in call volume to its taxpayer support centers, which can be reached at 1-855-698-9435.
Now that your return has been filed, and you’re formulating your spending (or savings) plan, you’ll want to check on the status of your refund. According to the IRS, 90 percent of returns filed electronically have refunds issued within 21 days. Refund status can be checked within 24 hours of e-filing, via the IRS’ Where’s My Refund? website or by downloading the IRS2Go mobile app, available for iOS and Android operating systems.
Integrated with TurboTax, Mint can ease the filing process by compiling all your financial information in one place, giving you a complete picture of where your money is going. When the refund comes in, Mint offers advice on the best options for growing your money via CDs or high-yield savings accounts. If completing your tax returns results in a balance due, the free service offers practical tips to trim your budget. Mint is available for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.
Photo from Shutterstock
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.