5 Apps That Are Handy For Tax Time

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It need not be so taxing.

Series set in a modern loft apartment. Casual lifestyle themes.

Dig out your calculator and dust off your pay slips because tax time is nearly upon us. But if your way of handling it is to frantically round up several years’ worth of random receipts, we’re here to urge you to ditch the paper and embrace the digital age. These five apps will help save you from a tax-induced meltdown and keep the ATO off your back in the process. Simple!

Australian Tax Office
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Free

Providing you’re not the last person on the planet to still use a Blackberry, the ATO’s official app is both free and available to use on most smartphones. What’s more, it’s actually pretty good. If you’re an individual taxpayer or a small business owner, the myDeduction tool means you can automatically upload your deductions straight to your return (just take a photo of the receipt of your tax-deductible purchase) and keep on top of your car usage with its inbuilt GPS tracker. Then, when you’re ready, you can actually lodge and track your return through the myTax tool. We especially love the voice verification feature (which means all your sensitive info is secure) and, you know, the fact that it’s free.

Squirrel Street
Available on: iOS, Android, Web
From $26.95 per month

Formerly known as Shoeboxed Australia, this receipt-scanning service is a little on the pricey side compared to some of its competitors, with plans ranging from $26.95 to a whopping $249.95 per month. Focusing on the lower end of the spectrum, subscribers are able to submit (as in, physically mail) up to 50 documents per month. Squirrel Street then scan, upload and dispose of the originals on your behalf, but not before information from the receipt is verified, extracted and categorised. The time saved on data entry would be well worth it for small or medium business owners, but perhaps a touch unnecessary for an individual taxpayer.

H&R Block Australia
Available on: iOS, Android
Free, $19.95 to lodge

Much like the ATO’s version, this app contains up-to-date tax guidelines, checklists and calculators to estimate your tax refund (or bill) based on your income and deductions. The idea is to use this app over the course of the financial year, logging any work-related expenses as you go. Although the app is initially free, you can download a further DIY tax app for $19.95 that will review your return by a registered tax agent before allowing you to lodge it.

VehicleLog
Available on: iOS
$13.99

Just like Squirrel Street is a receipt-scanning supplement rather than an all-in-one tax tool, VehicleLog is – as the name suggests – a comprehensive way to keep track of the kilometres you’re clocking up in the name of your job. When it comes to claiming for your wheels, the ATO like you to keep a logbook for a minimum of 12 weeks in order to verify proof of usage. VehicleLog is a comprehensive, digital (and ATO compliant) way to do this; either input your odometer readings, petrol and other costs manually or via GPS. You can use the same app for multiple cars, as well sitting back and letting them handle the tricky task of calculating the exact percentage of personal to business use.

My Tax
Available on: iOS, Mac OS X
$12.99

This app was developed by an Australian chartered accountant and it shows in its features; from calculating a large range of tax liabilities – including HELP, tax withheld and medicare levy – every effort has been made to ensure that your complicated tax needs are taken care of. Having been updated for this year’s rates, the calculators enable you to establish if you would be better off using the statutory or logbook method when it comes to claiming for your car or, say, salary sacrificing your superannuation. For the investors out there, the CGT calculator advises you on the extra tax you will pay if you sell your shares or other capital assets for profit. But it’s not cheap – the Mac OS X version will cost $5.99, but the iOS version will set you back $12.99.

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