Best Tax Preparation Mobile Apps of 2016Learn which of these mobile apps suits you best for filing your income tax return and tracking your tax refund.

Want to file your taxes? There’s a mobile app for that. In fact, there are several mobile apps for that. The question is, which tax prep mobile app should you use? With tax season upon us, we’ve got you covered: From estimating your IRS tax refund to tracking business mileage to organizing tax documents to actually filing your return, here are 11 of the best tax preparation mobile apps of 2016.

Related: 3 Tips for Filing Taxes Last-Minute

At a Glance: 11 Best Tax Preparation Mobile Apps of 2016

These are the 11 best apps that will allow you file taxes online using a mobile device. To quickly decide which app might be right for your tax preparation needs, take a look at the stats for each of the mobile apps reviewed here.

Mobile AppCost to DownloadNumber of Downloads
(Google Play)
iTunes App Store Rating Google Play Rating
TurboTaxFree1,000,000 – 5,000,0004.5 out of 5 stars4.3 out of 5 stars
TaxSlayer GOFree100,000 – 500,0004.5 out of 5 stars3.9 out of 5 stars
Ask a CPAFree1,000 – 5,0004 out of 5 stars3.7 out of 5 stars
ExpensifyFree1,000,000 – 5,000,0004 out of 5 stars4.1 out of 5 stars
IRS2GoFree5,000,000 – 10,000,0003.5 out of 5 stars4.1 out of 5 stars
TaxCasterFree1,000,000 – 5,000,0003.5 out of 5 stars4.2 out of 5 stars
Quick Tax Reference GuideFree100,000 – 500,0003.5 out of 5 stars4.3 out of 5 stars
H&R Block Tax PreparationFree10,000 – 50,0003.5 out of 5 stars2.6 out of 5 stars
MyTaxRefundFree1,000,000 – 5,000,0003 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars
MyBlockFree1,000,000 – 5,000,0002 out of 5 stars3.8 out of 5 stars
TaxACT ExpressFree100,000 – 500,0001.5 out of 5 stars4.1 out of 5 stars

1. TurboTax, Intuit

TurboTax fans will be happy to know they can complete their entire tax returns using the TurboTax tax preparation mobile app. You can even start your taxes on your desktop web browser using the online tax software and later, seamlessly switch to the app on a mobile device — which means you can get your taxes done anytime, anywhere. Be aware that even though it’s free to download the app, this is not a free tax filing app and you will still have to pay the normal fees to file your return.

With 4.5 stars and nearly 6,000 ratings in the iTunes App Store and 4.3 stars and over 24,000 in Google Play, the TurboTax app is one of the most popular tax preparation apps on the market. Customer reviews include glowing statements like, “I don’t typically take the time to write reviews for much of anything but…I’m glad I came across this. I would highly recommend this to anyone” and “I did my taxes in about 10 minutes.”

Pros: This year, TurboTax added a new feature that allows app users to snap photos of their tax documents from their phones instead of entering each line of information separately. Also, the company’s new SmartLook technology allows app users to connect with experts to get live, on-screen help right from their phones. The app also uses the same Intuit security features and data encryption to keep your personal information safe.

Cons: Even though you can just upload pictures of your tax documents, you’ll still need to check over the information to make sure it got translated properly. If you don’t, you could end up filing with incorrect information.

 

2. TaxSlayer GO, Tax Slayer

TaxSlayer GO allows users with simple tax situations to file their taxes quickly and easily. Simply enter your personal information, answer some tax questions, upload pictures of your W-2 or 1099-G, and you can file. The app can only handle simple tax returns, though — if you have a more complex tax situation, the app will redirect you to the desktop site.

TaxSlayer GO has an impressive 4.5 stars in the iTunes App Store and 4 stars in Google Play. Customers love that the app is “fast and easy to use,” and “saves me time and helps me get money back.” However, like many of the apps on our list, some users have complained of technical issues, like disappearing information or crashing.

Pros: If you have simple taxes — such as W-2 or 1099-G income — this is a quick and easy way to file. The prices are also very reasonable if you don’t have a complex tax situation. TaxSlayer GO is also 100-percent secure and IRS-approved.

Cons: This app isn’t ideal for users with more complicated tax returns. So if you have 1099-MISC income, business expenses or retirement income, you are probably better off using another tax app that can better handle your situation.

3. Ask a CPA, CPAdirectory.com

Launched in 2012, Ask a CPA features more than 2,500 tax and accounting questions and answers. Users simply search for their question in the archives and if they are unable to find an answer, they can send their question directly to a local CPA who will answer it for free within 24 hours.

With an average 3.5 stars in Google Play and a 4-star rating in the iTunes App Store, customers say the app is easy-to-use, “a great resource” and “full of useful information.” Inventor O wrote, “As a non-CPA it’s great to have this resource to go to for quick answers to my questions.”

Pros: This app is perfect for people who can’t find answers to their tax questions online and don’t want to hire a tax pro just to get that one answer. And since you aren’t entering any sensitive personal tax information, security issues aren’t a risk.

Cons: If your tax question isn’t already in Ask a CPA’s database, you’ll have to wait 24 hours to get your question answered by a pro. When you’re in the middle of filing your taxes, those kinds of interruptions can be frustrating.

4. Expensify

If you are self-employed, have side income or do a lot of business travel, Expensify helps you track your costs year round. Simply take a photo of your receipt and categorize the expense through the app. You can also track your business mileage using your phone’s GPS and use that info when you file your taxes.

A basic Expensify account is free but if you want more features, like invoicing or integration with other software, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $5 per user per month. With a 4-star rating in the iTunes App Store and 4.1 in Google Play, users love this app for tax planning — Business Insider has even named it “The Best Business Travel App.”

Pros: Expensify is chock-full of features that make tracking business expenses a breeze. For example, if you lose a receipt, the app can sync up with your credit card company to pull up a list of transactions. You will also have to create a secure account with Expensify to use the app to keep your personal information safe.

Cons: If you have business expenses, but don’t travel for work, this may not be the best tax-planning app for you. Consider other business expense tracking apps, like Shoeboxed or the FreshBooks mobile app.

5. IRS2Go, IRS.gov

Even the IRS has joined the mobile tax movement! The IRS2Go lets taxpayers check the status of their refund within 24 hours of electronic filing, as wells as connect with the IRS via social media. Users can also get access to mobile-friendly payment options and taxpayers who qualify for free tax help through IRS programs, like Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly, can use the app to connect with nearby program sites.

IRS2Go has an average 3-star rating in the iTunes App Store and 4.1 stars in Google Play. Android users say the app is “straightforward and user-friendly,” but some complain of technical issues or inaccurate information. iOS users also say the app is easy to use, but that it has some technical issues.

Pros: Days can feel like months when you’re waiting for your tax refund, so tracking the status of that money anytime, anywhere is definitely the highlight of this app. Users are also required to provide very specific personal details like their Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount to access any of their refund information.

Cons: While the app can tell you the general status of your refund, you won’t get any personalized information about your return. The interface also leaves much to be desired.

Related: 30 Tax Deductions You’re Missing Out On and How to Get Them

6. TaxCaster, Intuit

This is the third time that Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, have appeared on our list of the best tax prep apps. Tax Caster uses the same TurboTax calculator to quickly and accurately estimate your tax refund or what you might owe. Simply enter some basic information like your filing status, income and deductions, and the app does the math for you.

With 3.5 stars in the iTunes App Store and 4.2 stars in Google Play, reviews on TaxCaster are mostly positive. Some users said their estimate was very accurate or a few hundred dollars off. Still, some reviewers said the calculation was much different than what they actually got. So if you decide to use TaxCaster for tax preparation, just remember the numbers are only a basic estimate — don’t rely on this app as a definitive tax return calculator.

Pros: If you aren’t sure if you are going to owe or get a refund and don’t want to pay someone to estimate your taxes for you, this app can give you some much-needed peace of mind — for free. The app also uses the same Intuit security features and data encryption to keep your personal information safe.

Cons: TaxCaster likely works best for people who have simple taxes. If you have a more complicated tax situation, like home office deductions or other business expenses, you might not get the most accurate estimate. You might be better off entering all your details in TurboTax itself so you can get a more exact picture of your tax situation.

7. Quick Tax Reference Guide, Bloomberg BNA

The Quick Tax Reference Guide from Bloomberg BNA features info on both personal and corporate tax rates and schedules, as well as tax calculators for making quick estimates. Users can go as far back as 2011 to make retroactive tax calculations and there are separate sections for standard tax deductions, estate and gift tax rates and more. The app has a lot of useful information, but might be more oriented toward taxpayers with a lot of tax knowledge or tax pros that need to do quick estimates for clients.

With 4.3 stars but just 314 reviews in Google Play and 3.5 stars and only 39 reviews in the iTunes App store, the Quick Tax Reference Guide is one of the smaller players on our list of tax prep apps. Still, customers rave about the app, with user Joan Ferreira writing, “If this was a few dollars I would even pay for it.”

Pros: Quick Tax Reference Guide is a comprehensive tax app perfect for people with complex tax situations. If you pay corporate or business taxes, itemize your deductions or manage an estate, you’ll find quick answers to your most burning questions. And since you aren’t entering or storing any personal tax data, you won’t have to worry about security issues.

Cons: This app is way too complex for someone with simple taxes and the content and user interface are pretty dry. It’s better designed for someone who either works in the tax industry or is very familiar with tax codes.

8. H&R Block Tax Preparation, H&R Block

Like the TurboTax mobile app, the H&R Block Tax Preparation app allows youto switch from mobile device to computer as you prepare your taxes. You can also take a photo of your W-2 to import the info. These features make it really easy to do your taxes on the go, but you have to be connected to the internet to use the app. According to Macworld, the H&R Block Tax Preparation app isn’t actually a standalone app — it connects to the company’s web-based tax filing tool.

The H&R Block Tax Preparation app has pretty low user ratings: Just 2.5 stars in Google Play and 3.5 stars in the iTunes App Store. Many users have complained about a variety of technical issues, which can be frustrating when you just want to get your taxes over with.

Pros: Fans of the H&R Block Tax Preparation app love how simple tax filing is through a smartphone — especially because you can take a picture and upload your tax documents. Users can also get free, unlimited advice from tax pros when they need it and the app features multi-level authentication and data encryption to keep your personal tax info safe.

Cons: Unlike a true standalone app, you have to be connected to the internet to use the H&R Block Tax Preparation app. So if you are working on your taxes while riding the train to work or you have an unreliable internet connection, you’ll lose your info.

9. MyTaxRefund, Intuit

The makers of TurboTax have a standalone app just for tracking the status of your tax refund: MyTaxRefund. Simply enter your Social Security Number and ZIP code to quickly check the status of your state or federal tax return and get an estimate of when your refund will arrive.

MyTaxRefund has over 26,000 ratings in the iTunes App Store and 83,000 in Google Play, with an average rating of 3-4 stars. Users rave about how easy it is to use the app, but some complain that the information isn’t totally accurate or the app is slow to load and/or update.

Pros: Anyone who filed his taxes electronically can use this app to track his refund – you don’t need to be a TurboTax customer to use it. It also boasts a very user-friendly interface and is simple to figure out; and just like every other Intuit app on our list. MyTaxRefund uses the same security features and data encryption to keep your personal information safe.

Cons: MyTaxRefund only provides basic refund tracking information — it’s essentially the same info you’ll find on the IRS website or the IRS2Go app, albeit with a much better user interface.

10. MyBlock, H&R Block

MyBlock, from H&R Block, helps taxpayers organize their receipts, tax forms and tax documents. You can also estimate your refund, look up old tax returns and find information on the nearest H&R Block tax store to schedule an appointment, as well as a customized tax checklist to make sure you have all the documents you need when you file. Also, like the other tax prep apps on our list, it’s free to download the app but you will have to pay the normal fees to file.

Fans of the app love how easy it is to use and how much time it saves just preparing to file taxes, but with 3.5 stars in the iTunes App Store and 3.8 stars in Google Play, there are several recent reviews complaining of login and username issues. However, H&R Block did just release an update that hopefully resolved most of those problems.

Pros: With MyBlock, you won’t need to keep paper records on-hand when you file — everything is neatly stored inside the app. An ID-proofed account is required to use the app to help keep your personal data safe and secure.

Cons: You can’t actually file your state or federal income taxes using the MyBlock app. To file, you’ll have to switch over to the H&R Block Tax Preparation app, do it yourself online or schedule an appointment at a tax store, which can take hours.

Related: How to Legally Lower Your Tax Bracket

11. TaxACT Express, TaxACT, Inc.

If you have simple taxes, TaxACT Express is another quick and easy app to get your return filed. Like other simple tax apps on our list, users just enter their personal information, answer a few questions and upload tax documents. While the app is free, you might have pay to file, depending on your tax situation.

The app has an impressive average 4.1 star rating in Google Play and 4.5 stars in the iTunes App Store. Some users complain it’s getting harder to file for free and the app is limited to certain tax situations, but overall, customers are happy with the service they get for such a low cost to file.

Pros: TaxACT Express covers more tax situations than some of the other simple tax filing apps. For example, the app can handle interest and dividend income, education credits and deductions and saver’s retirement credit. The app also promises secure access anywhere, anytime from any device browser.

Cons: You cannot file using this app if you have a more complex tax situation — you will be asked to start your return over using the web-based version of the app. That can be frustrating when you’ve already spent time uploading your tax info.

Comments
  • Claudia

    Hey Morgan — Claudia from Shoeboxed here. Great list, and thanks for mentioning Shoeboxed as an alternative to Expensify! Taxes are especially difficult for people who work in the gig economy. We definitely encourage everyone to keep every single receipt and expense because 1) you never know what expense could be considered as deductible or reimbursable and 2) if an expense IS considered deductible, having receipts already organized by tax category will make itemization a hell of a lot easier.

    Thanks again, and please let me know if you ever need a resource on receipt tracking or taxes!

    Claudia
    claudia@team.shoeboxed.com

    • Hi Claudia! Happy to include you on the list. Thanks for making such a delightful product! 🙂