Tax season is one of the most stressful times of the year for many Americans, but according to accounting experts, the proper use of technology is a better cure for tax-season headaches than a few aspirin.
“We live in a digital world,” explained Rebecca Berneck, founder of Officeheads, a provider of operational strategies and back office services to small companies. “There are a variety of different things taxpayers and business owners can do electronically throughout the year to make things much easier come tax time.”
One of the biggest hassles that can be avoided, according to Berneck, is having to carry around piles and piles of paper receipts. There are several ways you can now store them on your computer or mobile devices, she said.
According to Berneck, taxpayers should look to their mobile phones and devices for apps that allow you to scan in receipts and save them digitally. One such app is Proongo, an application and website where you can record your receipts, mileage, credit card information, and more, so it’s easily accessible come tax time.
She also suggests using your smartphone to take photos of the odometer in your car when you get gas, receipts from company dinners and outings, and any other expenses you plan to claim on your return.
Even if you’re not comfortable using apps or smartphones, you should at least consider scanning in important documents, like receipts and tax forms, said Julie Miller a spokesperson for TurboTax. TurboTax now offers tax software online, through tablet or smartphone, or via CD/Download. (Many employers are even starting to offer tax forms in PDF format so individuals don’t have to do it themselves, she said).
One new technological idea TurboTax has brought to the table to help with tax claims is ItsDeductible Online, a site that allows individuals to enter charitable donations right when they make them. ItsDeductible Online will automatically add those donations as deductions to the taxpayer’s TurboTax account. (In case you’re wondering, yes, you do have to use TurboTax to file your taxes for this feature to be useful).
The biggest downside to going digital with all of your tax documents is the fact that sometimes computers can crash and data can be lost, said Berneck of Officeheads . However, there’s an easy way to prevent that from happening: cloud software, she explained.
“Cloud provides secure and seamless accessibility,” she said, adding that having cloud software has saved her on numerous occasions. “These are extremely important documents,” she said. “When you work with them on a daily basis you want to make sure they’re as safe as can be. Cloud provides that needed security.”
So whether you use an accountant for your taxes, or you do them online yourself, technology can make your life easier. And all the experts agree that you should be recording your tax data electronically all year long. Do not wait until the last minute when tax season hits.
“The best thing you can do is get organized in advance of sitting down to do your taxes. More and more people are wanting to keep those documents electronically,” Miller said. “You want to make sure you get every dollar you deserve. Being organized is the best step to making that happen.”