The Appy Route to Tax Filing

Tax apps use the same encryption that banks use to send and receive information. They also offer frequent updates against potential threats.
     Print Edition: May 2014
Annie Matthew, Director, Alliances and Business Development, BlackBerry India
Annie Matthew, Director, Alliances and Business Development, BlackBerry India

A smartphone has become a must-have gadget for most professionals. There is little that today's smartphones cannot do: it is only fair, then, that they are now helping individuals manage their financial transactions too. So, it comes as no surprise to see a number of apps that save users from last minute panic and offer them relief by making tax filing almost as easy as clicking a picture and uploading it on social media.

Filing returns via your smartphone has many advantages. First, phone operating systems require people to download from legitimate app stores which screens out malicious apps that might steal sensitive information. Tax apps use the same encryption that banks use to send and receive information and they offer frequent updates against potential threats. Plus, unlike a computer, no tax information is stored on the phone.

Here are a couple of apps that help you file returns:

>> Tax Receipts Shoebox:

This is one of the useful smartphone app which for just $2.99 (Rs 180) allows you to take pictures of receipts that you want to keep on file in case of an audit.

>> BNA Quick Tax Reference:
This app, available across all mobile platforms, helps store valuable reference material like mileage rates, corporate tax rate schedules, individual tax rate schedule, standard reductions, retirement plan limits etc in unfiltered tables.

In addition to the above apps which simplify accounting terminology, provide clarity on individual tax structure and help maintain expense/saving records, there are a lot of value added services that these smart apps offer.

For example, in case of an audit, a lot of apps offer free one-on-one audit guidance or audit representation itself. Similarly, some apps allow using a portion of tax refund for online shopping: TurboTax app allows customers to use a portion of the tax refund to buy an Amazon.com gift card while adding 10 per cent bonus for free.

However, privacy concerns still remain. Hence, using discretion to weed out any potential data theft is always recommended. It is essential to assess whether the app sticks to the IT department's data structure and other parameters. It is also equally important to protect your information on smartphone/ app by implementing password mechanism so that your information is secure, even in case of a theft. Also, ensure that filing/reviewing your application is not done in public space.

ANNIE MATTHEW
Director, Alliances and Business Development, BlackBerry India

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