The Misguided Appification Efforts of TurboTax and IRS

For some reason I just can’t let it go.  Tax smartphone apps are not as amazing as some would have you believe!

I came across a press release issued on behalf of this morning praising IRS2Go and TurboTax’s mobile tax software called SnapTax. IRS2Go is a free app that allows users to quickly access the IRS on Twitter and YouTube, check the status of a tax refund, order transcripts, and obtain IRS news and tax tips. SnapTax costs $9.99 and apparently makes it possible to do your taxes “on the go.”

Here’s what says about SnapTax:

Look, apps are where it is at now. Pretty soon, many people won’t even be using browsers any more, and will be viewing a lot of their content through apps. I know Bill Harris, the guy who started Turbo Tax. He and his company he created ChipSoft, which were acquired way back from Intuit, have been THE leader in this field since Day 1. I am thrilled they are ahead of the curve on this as well.

Ok, maybe apps are where it’s at, but it’s not where taxes should be. I don’t know much about SnapTax, but I cannot imagine why anyone would prefer to do their taxes on their phone as opposed to sitting down at their computer. Most people have what they need to file by the end of January. Are we that busy that we can’t find a couple hours between Feb 1st and April 15th to plop down in front of our computer and knock it out? Are people really going to file their taxes “on the go” in between turns in Words With Friends? I’m not sure if TurboTax is ahead of the curve on this one or if they made a wrong turn.

Here’s what says about IRS2Go:

With these helpful apps, taxpayers can now spend a ton less time and money filing their taxes and more time focusing on improving their finances, things like their monthly budget, credit score, and chipping away at debt

Really RoadFish?  Did you even look at the app? How does it save you tons of time and money?

Sign me up when there’s a tax relief app with a “Pay Less Taxes” button. When it comes to apps, only 1 in 10,000 is truly useful (or fun, or serves its intended purpose). Most apps are pointless because, even though everybody wants to push their goods or services with the newest technology, you really can’t appify EVERYTHING.

IRS Introduces Mobile App “IRS2Go 2.0″

If you own a smartphone, chances are you probably use it throughout the day to post, tweet, like, and follow. Maybe your addicted to Words with Friends or Angry Birds. You’re probably NOT ordering tax transcripts or checking on the status of your refund. But according to the IRS, at least 350,000 of you have the app that allows you to engage in said geeky mobile activities. And who knows, that number may have shot up even further after today’s announcement that the IRS is rolling out the updated version of its mobile app “IRS2Go 2.0.”

I don’t know, there’s something about the IRS and technology that reminds me of the time I witnessed my mother trying to communicate with Siri. A little awkward.

~ John Wetenkamp, tax relief attorney

IRS2Go has 7 main features (#4, #5, and #6 are new in version 2.0):

  1. Get Your Refund Status
  2. Get Tax Updates
  3. Follow Us
  4. Watch Us
  5. Get the Latest News
  6. Get My Tax Record
  7. Contact Us

For whatever reason, I’m doubting that 350,000 downloads figure. How many times have you installed a free app only to uninstall it minutes later after discovering you don’t like it? Does the 350,000 include that scenario? It’s not that the IRS doesn’t know technology. It’s not that the app has completely unusable features either. I just can’t imagine very many people would want to be reminded of their tax obligations (or tax problems) 6,000 times a day — each time they glance at their phone. Most people only want to think about the IRS one time per year, and even then they don’t want to have to ponder the thought for too long.