Use smartphone app to file taxes

Jan 14, 2011 By Sandra Block

You can make a restaurant reservation, check your bank balance, and shop online with your smartphone, and now you may be able to do your taxes, too.

Friday, Intuit's TurboTax will release SnapTax, a new that allows taxpayers who file a 1040EZ to prepare and file their federal and state income taxes on their smartphones. Customers can download the app for free, but will have to pay $14.99 to file their tax returns.

The app uses technology to fill out users' tax returns. Once users take a picture of their W-2s with their smartphones, the app will automatically transfer information to the relevant lines on Form 1040EZ. After customers answer a few questions, they'll have an opportunity to check the return for accuracy before they file.

Like traditional tax preparation software, the app will display the amount of the refund. The process should take 15 to 30 minutes, says Bob Meighan, vice president of TurboTax.

More than 22 million Americans are eligible to file a 1040EZ, an abbreviated tax form available to taxpayers who claim the standard deduction, have no dependents, and earn less than $100,000. Taxpayers who file the 1040EZ are "really the young and mobile crowd," and many of them have never used tax software, Meighan says.

TurboTax tested the app last year in California, where it was limited to state tax returns. About 2,000 state residents downloaded the app, says TurboTax spokeswoman Colleen Gatlin.

Mary Canning, dean of the School of Taxation at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, showed a video about the app to her staff, who are in their 30s or younger, and asked them if they would use it. "They absolutely said they would," she says. "Every single one of them."

TurboTax's provides the same security and privacy features found in TurboTax's tax preparation software, Gatlin says.

Still, individuals who want to use their phones to do their taxes need to take extra steps to protect themselves, says John Hering, founder of Lookout Mobile Security, a company that provides security products for mobile phones. The increased use of mobile devices to perform financial tasks has made them more attractive to cybercriminals, he says.

Criminals already have attempted to hijack information from online banking customers by creating apps that resembled those offered by major banks, he notes. Smartphone users should only download apps from Apple and Android stores, he says, and verify the identity of the developer.

People who use their mobile devices to conduct financial transactions should also take extra steps to protect their phones, Hering says, such as making sure phone data are password protected.

Explore further: Encryption made easier: Just talk like a parent


Related Stories

Multiple options available for tax-preparation services

Mar 05, 2009

It's that dreaded season -- tax time. But preparing your forms this year may not be as difficult and time-consuming as in past years. Makers of the most popular tax preparation software and online services claim they've made ...

Smartphones tempting new targets for hackers

Jul 30, 2010

Software security experts warn that mobile phones are tempting targets for hackers in a world where people eagerly invite strange applications onto handsets packed with personal data.

Early income-tax filing not the best deal

Dec 13, 2010

The early bird doesn't always get the worm. Moreover, said a consumer-finance expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, being in a hurry to file your federal income tax forms in pursuit of a ...

Recommended for you

Encryption made easier: Just talk like a parent

21 minutes ago

Encrypting emails can be tedious, difficult and very confusing. And even for those who have mastered the process, it's useless unless the intended recipient has the correct software to decode the message. ...

SemanticPaint system labels environment quickly online

2 hours ago

Ten researchers from University of Oxford, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Stanford, and Nankai University have presented a new approach to 3D scene understanding with a system which they dubbed SemanticPaint. ...

Cuba's new wifi hotspots attract eager users

6 hours ago

Near the popular Hotel Habana Libre in Cuba's capital, a gaggle of young people on cellphones, tablets and laptops log onto the new wifi hotspot—a small milestone in one of the least connected countries.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.