Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Smartphone Apps Strive to Make Ringing Up Tax Documents a Little Easier: Tax Apps Aim to Make Filing Documents a Snap

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Smartphone Apps Strive to Make Ringing Up Tax Documents a Little Easier: Tax Apps Aim to Make Filing Documents a Snap

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Tax season deadlines can throw procrastinating Canadians into a last-minute panic, but savvy smartphone users might find relief in a small number of apps, some that can make tax filing almost as easy as snapping a picture.

While filing taxes on "apps" -- shorthand for applications that operate on smartphones -- has become popular in the United States, it's not yet as entrenched in Canada.

But this year software developer Intuit took a big step towards that goal with the introduction of SnapTax, adding to a small list of Canadian apps aimed at making the job less painful.

Intuit, best-known for its Quicken and TurboTax desktop tax filing software, designed the free iPhone app to allow Canadians to fill out their tax return simply by taking a photo of their T4 slip, making a few minor adjustments to the digitally translated information and sending it to the Canada Revenue Agency.

The creators of SnapTax say their plan is to develop a more complex app for tablet devices that uses the iPhone as a "capturing device" that will transfer pictures of documents to a tablet for future tax season.

"So, that 'Movember' charitable receipt you received back in November, it would already be waiting for you in your tax profile," said Richard McCann, product Manager for SnapTax.

McCann expects the shift to digital filing will continue in the coming years as more Canadians get their T4 slips online, which will eliminate the need to manually input your data into tax forms.

"Locking yourself in for two hours becomes almost like SnapTax -- down to minutes," he said.

The upside is that it works, but the downside is that it won't be particularly helpful to most Canadians because it's only capable of handling the most basic of tax documents.

That means if you have RRSPs or are filing complex business claims, SnapTax won't make the job any easier.

But if you're a student, or anyone else with a simple tax return, the iPhone app will make it a breeze and relatively inexpensive -- it costs $9.99 to file directly to the Canada Revenue Agency's Netfile system using the program.

The shift to a purely electronic tax filing system has been gaining momentum as technology improves and devices become more versatile, said Ed Shawchuk, a partner at AG Tax Chartered Accountants. …

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