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Apptitude: Adapt to a changing tax world

By Reid Kanaley, The Philadelphia Inquirer –

As we gaze over the fiscal cliff, here are a few smartphone applications to help deal with the ever-changing world of taxes.

Most of us prefer to avoid the taxman. But when you need to be in touch with the IRS — and most of us do at some low point every year — its IRS2Go app is free for Android and Apple devices.

From a simple menu, you can use the app to find out the status of a refund or to sign up for a Tax Tips newsletter.

One link takes you to the IRS news page to review the agency’s latest announcements. Another links to the IRS’s own YouTube channel, where it posts tutorials on, for example, how a natural disaster might affect your tax bill, or what to do when you owe taxes but can’t pay.

A contact screen offers one-tap voice calls to the agency for your questions about preparing returns or responding to IRS notices. If you need copies of prior-year tax returns, just fill out a brief form on the app and the IRS will mail the records to you.

The BNA Quick Tax Reference, free from Bloomberg BNA for Android, BlackBerry and Apple, is set up to help you figure some tax scenarios for 2013 — with and without the extension of existing tax cuts. Just toggle the cuts “off” or “on” and watch your potential tax bill rise or fall. What fun.

The app displays corporate and individual rate schedules, standard and personal deductions, estate and gift tax rates, and IRA and retirement plan contribution limitations.

An iPhone app, iTaxes-USA, that costs $1.99 and is from TaxApps CPA LLC, provides more detailed information — based on IRS publications — on what’s deductible and what isn’t. (If you need a prosthetic leg, for example, that is a deductible medical expense, but your subsequent dancing lessons aren’t.)

The app also has a checklist of the forms, receipts, bills and other documentation you need for doing your taxes. You can add your own items to the checklist. As a bonus, there’s a list of about 200 taxes and fees just to cheer you up, including use taxes, excise taxes, amusement taxes and intangibles taxes. If you love the list, you can send it to Facebook or Twitter with a tap or two.

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