Check Your Income Tax Refund on Your Smartphone

by Kevin on March 3, 2011

Even though the tax deadline is still over a month away I know there is a decent sized group of folks out there that have already filed their income taxes with the Federal government.

If you are in this group of people — congrats! You are saving yourself a lot of headache (or at least anxiety) by doing your taxes earlier in the tax season. This usually results in getting your income tax refund back from the Internal Revenue Service faster than if you waited until the very last day to file (April 18th this year). (Of course none of this helps you out if your state tax refund is delayed for months like it usually is in Alabama!)

In the distant past if you filed a return with an expectation of a refund there was little clarity into the status of your return. The Federal government has been pretty good to me in the past and my refunds have been direct deposited back to me within about 2 weeks of when I file electronically online. But that two week time period was really just a guess. It might be shorter, it might be longer.

Then the IRS rolled out a new website called “Where’s My Refund?” to help you track things. But the site was designed for someone sitting at home on a desktop or laptop rather than interacting with the site through a smartphone. And as the rise of smartphones continues more and more people are going to be connecting through these types of devices.

So this year the Internal Revenue Service has developed a free application that you can download to your Apple or Android operating system powered smartphone. It is aptly named IRS2Go as if you were ordering a hamburger with a side of IRS2Go. Clever.

As basic as the name sounds I really like the idea driving this app. If I can check my bank statements online from my phone why shouldn’t I be able to check the status of my refund?

Let’s take a brief walkthrough the app to see if it is worth that small amount of precious data on your phone’s capped data plan.

A Walkthrough of the IRS’ Smartphone App

The first screen gives you four options:

  • get your refund status
  • get tax updates
  • follow us
  • contact us

I decided not to include an image of the first part of the app because it is pretty basic, and also because you can see it on the IRS’ website. Also I would imagine 90% or more of users will go straight to the “Get your refund status” section of the app.

When you click that you are taken to this:

IRS Tax App for Smartphone

Pretty simple, right? Enter your social security number, select your filing status, and input what your exact expected refund is from your return.

This is what the filing status screen looks like:

IRS Refund App Filing Status Screen

I can’t show you what the next section of the app looks like showing the actual status of your refund because I haven’t filed my return yet. Shame on me, but I haven’t had enough time to double check my math and to make sure I didn’t miss any additional income or deductions. I’ve done the leg work to know I won’t be paying more into the system this year — we fell right where I wanted to on the Tax Return Spectrum.

That having been said I’m really curious as to whether or not you would use this app. Would you trust your wireless carrier to interact with the IRS website and sharing your social security number? Would you worry about what happens to the application data if your phone is stolen?

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