Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but it is fully tax season. So, if you haven't gotten your W-2s, 1099s, and 1040s all compiled and organized, you'd best get moving.
In any case, here are a few tax apps that you should check out, no matter where you are in the tedious filing process. Download them and enjoy. They will definitely make your life a bit easier. And who knows? They might even make your tax-filing experience fun! Maybe.
TaxCaster (Android | iOS) If you're not quite ready to file, but you want to see what your return might look like, then download the free TurboTax TaxCaster app. It can quickly estimate your federal tax refund based on a few bits of personal info and some basic payroll data, and it can even factor in most (if not all) of your deductions.
At the top of the screen is a meter that displays your estimated tax refund. As you answer questions, it recalculates its estimate accordingly. And of course, the more answers you provide, the more accurate TaxCaster's estimate gets. Believe it or not, it's actually kind of fun to use.
One thing I love about the app is the simplicity of its questions. Sliders and radio buttons make it easy to enter your answers, and, most importantly, all of the language used is clear and straightforward. But, in the unlikely event that you do feel lost, you can always hit the Help button in the top-right corner to pull up deeper explanations of any item on the screen.
SnapTax (Android | iOS) When you're ready to start filing, check out SnapTax. It's made for people with the simplest of tax situations, who are filing a 1040EZ this April. If you don't have any children, don't own a home, your income is under $100K, and you have very few investments, then try downloading this app and filing your tax return right from your mobile device.
One of the big advantages of using SnapTax is that it lets you quickly input information using your device's camera. In most cases, you can snap a photo of your W-2 forms, and watch the app automatically populate your 1040EZ with your data. And as is the case with Intuit's other offerings, the interface is simple, and much of the confusing tax jargon has been eliminated.
SnapTax offers one of the simplest ways to file a tax return I've seen. But again, it's only for those who are filing the basic 1040EZ form. It's free to download, but charges $19.99 to e-file your federal and state forms.
TurboTax (Windows) If you're not quite sold on the idea of filing your tax return on your phone or tablet, then Intuit's flagship TurboTax product for the desktop is probably the way to go. It's incredibly simple to use, and it offers the most comprehensive support of any tax program I've seen.
TurboTax for the desktop comes in four versions--Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business--each of which offers both an online prep option or a software download. All of the online apps let you start a single e-file for free, while the downloads cost a bit more but come bundled with more than one e-file.
One thing I particularly love about TurboTax is its Help Center, which always sits conveniently on the right side of the screen. More than your typical search-based Help Center, TurboTax's offers an FAQ as well as access to TurboTax's live community of users, many of whom have probably asked or answered questions similar to yours. On top of that, TurboTax now offers live tax advice from experts for free. This is a big change from previous versions, which charged extra fees for live professional help, on top of the price of the program. What's more, live expert hours have been extended to between 5 a.m and 9 p.m. PT, seven days a week.
With only one included federal e-file (five for the download version) and an additional fee for state filing, TurboTax certainly isn't the cheapest tax software out there. However, it does offer the most clearly worded interview and the most comprehensive help and support of all the options I've seen. Plus, you can actually go through the entire Web-based version for free, and pay only if you decide to follow through and file. Overall, I highly recommend TurboTax to all users, especially those who feel less than comfortable with the tax-filing process.