March 2, 2016 – One of Ben Franklin’s “certainties” is fast approaching, the tax season, and whether you are a tax professional or if you just want a little help from technology to file your own taxes, these tax resources and mobile apps should come in handy.
Genevieve Zook is the reference & instructional services librarian at the U.W. Law Library. She is currently chair of the Public Relations Committee and past president of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin, a chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.
There are a variety of specialized tax apps available for mobile devices. These apps range from the full scope of legal tax material, including treatises, cases law, statutes, regulation, and legislative research, to current events, news, and alerts, identical in every way to their online version, but on a mobile platform. There are also simple but useful apps to help you organize and store receipts, file a return, or track a refund.
Tax professionals will find the subscription-based services convenient to use, including the ability to pull up critical legal documents on a mobile device. Attorneys can also take advantage of tax forms and calculator tools useful to completing a form or report.
Online Tax Resources
Tax resources are available to access from your computer, most at no cost.
Resources at Law Libraries
Both the Wisconsin State Law Library and the U.W. Law Library provide access to free sources for tax professionals; if you search the library’s catalogs, you can also locate print material or link to the scholarly journal database.
Google Scholar is another great place for tax professionals to search for tax law articles written by experts in the field. If you search from a terminal located on the U.W. campus, you will have access to the full text of these articles. The Wisconsin Law Library also makes full text copies of articles available to patrons, and if you have a library card, you can download the articles from your computer.
Online Tax Portals
Beyond what is offered at the law libraries, if you want to browse a tax portal online, try these sites:
Internal Revenues Basic Tools for Tax Professionals
Wisconsin Department of Revenue – 2015 Tax Forms
For current events, bookmark the TaxProfBlog, an active blog written by Paul L. Caron of the Pepperdine University School of Law. The TaxProfBlog also provides a list of tax resources, and one of the resources includes a list of tax blogs.
Mobile Tax Apps
U.S. Internal Revenue Service Mobile App
IRS2Go (free). Provided by the Internal Revenue Service, this free app tracks your refunds. Tax professionals may find it useful to track a client’s tax refund as well as your own.
Subscription and Fee-based Sites
The premier tax platforms provide free mobile apps but require that you have a subscription to access their services. However, if your firm already subscribes to one of these services, the mobile apps provided by the company are free and a great way to access tax law on the go.
These platforms include:
Bloomberg BNA Tax Center app (free). With this app, you can access the resources of Bloomberg BNA’s database, including the Tax Management Portfolios and federal, state, and international tax analysis. Bloomberg BNA also offers a quick tax reference guide app that includes tax tools, ERISA, standard deductions and other critical tax material. Available for Apple and Android devices.
Checkpoint Pocket Assist (free). While you can access the full Checkpoint Mobile Tax and Accounting Resource platform without an app, this app offers the 2015 tax rate guide and three separate calculator type apps that range in cost from $1.99 to $2.99.
Wolters Kluwer Intelliconnect (IC) Mobile App is available on Apple and Android devices (free). IC Mobile provides access to popular CCH tax publications, and primary tax material. You have access to everything on your mobile device that you can access online including Intelliconnect’s SmartChart product.
Apps from Tax Preparation Companies
Both H&R Block and Turbo Tax offer apps. Some of the tools are strictly useful only if you want to hire a professional, but for free or at a low cost you can also upload receipts and store them with these apps.
H&R Block’s MyBlock (free). You can use Myblock to prepare your taxes all year round. It stores receipts and allows you to select a “tax pro” from H&R Block for tax preparation.
Turbo Tax. Besides its online tax preparation services, which are priced by product, Turbo Tax offers several mobile apps that you might find useful:
ItsDeductible (free). Keep track of your charitable deductions with this app.
TaxCaster (free). Add your information and this app will estimate your tax refund.
MyTaxRefund (free). This app tracks any e-filed return – even if it wasn’t filed with TurboTax.
Productivity Apps: Scan, Upload and Store Your Receipts
Expensify (free). With Expensify you can log in your expenses and create reports. You can also track mileage and use this app to log travel expenses and create reports. It is fairly easy to learn how to use, so not much of a learning curve, and the cost is free until you add on extra features.
Evernote’s App Center has apps you can use to scan and organize your receipts. FileThis will also pull receipts from your email and create searchable pdfs:
FileThis (free). You’ll need to download Evernote to use this app. FileThis pulls your documents from Evernote and you can create searchable PDFs.
Scannable (free). Use with Evernote to take pictures of your receipts and store them on Evernote.
MileIQ (free). MileIQ is designed to catch and log your mileage for you. The app calculates your mileage as you drive, so you don’t have to keep track; another feature allows you to review the value of your travel time.
OneReceipt (free). This app organizes all your receipts in one place. It also pulls in your email receipts, all stored in the cloud.
Shoeboxed (free). This app is very easy to use. Using your camera, you can copy your receipts and organize them – the app stores the receipts for you.
Tripit (free). Tripit is a travel app, but you can use it to keep track of your travel expenses all year long.
Tax Questions: Ask a CPA App
AskaCPA (free). Have a tax question? Try using an app to get an answer. AskaCPA will answer your questions or connect you to a local CPA. Available on Apple and Android devices.
Where to Find More Information
For more information on tax apps and other legal apps, see the University of Wisconsin Law Libraries’ guides:
iPad Apps for Lawyers, Law Faculty, and Law Students
Android Apps for Lawyers, Law Faculty, and Law Students
The Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin's Public Relations Committee coordinates regular contributions by its members to WisBar InsideTrack.