3 Ways to Use Mobile Technology for Your Business Tax Obligations
by BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger
- Created: February 14, 2012, 1:28 pm
- Updated: May 21, 2012, 6:40 pm
Mobile technology has enabled us to run our businesses on the fly. It has also helped us to simplify some of the tasks involved in operations, not the least of which is taxes. Here are three ways you can use mobile technology to simplify tax-required recordkeeping, stay updated on tax changes, and keep in touch with your tax advisor.
Note that the specific apps listed here are not recommendations but merely used to illustrate the type of apps to consider for a particular purpose; it’s up to you to explore the ones best suited for your purposes. Also, note that some apps are limited to a specific platform, such as the iPhone and iPad, so check for apps that are suitable for the smartphone or tabletplatform you use.
1. Apps for recordkeeping
In order to deduct travel, entertainment, and other business expenses, you need to have good records. In the old days, you would save receipts and other pieces of paper and store them in a file folder or shoe box. You’d keep a paper diary of your schedule and travel information. Things have changed!
Scanning receipts. Receipts are still required to prove your business expenses. However, you can now use your smartphone’s camera and an app to scan your receipts and store them for tax purposes. Example: *Scanner Pro ($6.99).
Recording T&E info. The tax law requires you to keep a record of the date, purpose, and other information for travel and entertainment expenses. You can now do this with apps designed for this purpose. Example: *ExpenseWare ($19.99 per month for a single user plan).
Tracking mileage. If you use your personal car or truck for business, the tax law requires you to keep a record of business mileage also. The GPS in your smartphone enables easy recordkeeping for this purpose. Example: *Milog ($3.99).
2. Apps for tax news
The IRS is the prime source of tax news and the Service has gotten into mobile technology in a big way. It recently released its IRS2Go 2.0, an expanded version of its smartphone application designed to provide you easier access to practical tools and information. The new app works on both the iPhone and Android platforms; the older version was only for the iPhone. Here are some of the features of the app:
- Get tax updates by providing your email address so that you’ll automatically receive tips and reminders to help you with tax planning. Tips are sent daily through the filing season and periodically throughout the rest of the year.
- Receive the latest news releases delivered to your phone.
- Follow the IRS Twitter newsfeed @IRSnews. Here you’ll get easy-to-use information, including tax law changes and information on IRS programs (such as the new voluntary worker classification program).
- Watch IRS videos on its YouTube channel.
3. Staying in touch with your tax advisor
Obviously, the smartphone, by definition, is a way to communicate with your tax advisor. But if you don’t want to talk, you can use your phone in other ways to stay in touch.
Accounting entries. If you use *QuickBooks Online ($12.95 per month), you can send invoices, track payments, and more through your smartphone. You can enable your CPA or other tax advisor to have access to your account.
Sharing receipts. Instead of bringing paper receipts to your accountant at tax time, consider using a program such as *Shoeboxed.com (plans starting at $10 per month). The free app lets you scan receipts and save them in the cloud in a tax-organized way. Then your accountant can access them for tax return preparation.
As small business owners embrace mobile technology, there’s likely to be a growing number of applications to help you run your business better and easier. Be sure to read reviews of applications and take advantage of free trials before buying anything.
*Denotes non-government website
About the Author
Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, and trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® and host of Build Your Business Radio. She has been included in the List of 100 Small Business Influencers for 2011 and 2012. Follow her on Twitter: @BarbaraWeltman.
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