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Here's Why You Shouldn’t File Taxes Using Your Smartphone

Many people now use smartphone apps to file taxes but it's important to consider limitations, especially in states with online IRS filing options.
Cover Image Source: Filing taxes on mobile (representative image) | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Filing taxes on mobile (representative image) | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

Our smartphones have made life incredibly convenient in the modern world. Everything is accessible with just a tap, from grocery shopping to vacation planning. Even filing taxes has become more mobile-friendly; in 2018, around 8 million people filed their forms using the TurboTax app. It's reasonable to assume that number has increased since then.

Image Source: Photo by | pexels
Mobile tax filing (representative image) | Photo by | Pexels

There are a few things to think about before you hop on the mobile tax filing bandwagon.

1. Filing taxes on your phone has some restrictions and possible problems.

2. It's worth noting that some states allow you to file directly with the IRS online. So, depending on where you live, you might have other options besides using a mobile app.

Generative AI is frequently used by tax apps to help you file your taxes on a mobile device. However, there are unique difficulties with this technology. While generative AI, or Gen AI, offers potential, many firms haven't specified clear policies for controlling their security threats, as noted by Quantum Metric's Michael Hanson, a regional vice president. This ambiguity prevents it from reaching its full potential. In addition to security issues, another problem is AI's capacity to manage the intricacies of tax reporting. Hanson claims that these AI systems' Large Language Models (LLMs) may not yet be sufficiently trained to handle all tax nuances. For accuracy assurance and double-checking, human input is still needed.

Image Source: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | pexels
Generative AI is frequently used by tax apps (representative image) | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

While there's hope that AI will one day be able to handle tasks like finding deductions independently, Hanson suggests that we're still a few years away from AI being able to completely "do our taxes" accurately without human intervention. You are likely to make mistakes whether you file your taxes online or on paper.

Hansom stated, "The inherent design of mobile apps can create unseen errors, which is another risk of using them to file taxes." "Mobile devices can be used efficiently to complete basic returns for the most part, but the native app experiences become inconvenient when users begin to exceed standard deduction thresholds with itemizations or other more complex scenarios like multiple W-2s, multiple state earnings, 401(k) rollovers or cashouts, etc. Even if it seems convenient to file taxes on your phone in less complicated tax scenarios, it can be very annoying in more complicated tax situations.

According to Michael Hanson, there are already several problems, such as difficulty accessing and navigating around the app, that could make using mobile apps for tax filing more problematic. He is still optimistic that the mobile app experience for tax filing will be optimized in the coming years. To guarantee a smoother and more user-friendly experience, there is still space for improvement for the time being. Hanson adds that the possibility of poor response times or problems with third-party integrations is another worry with using tax apps.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Tax apps offer third-party integrations (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Karolina Grabowska

To import crucial papers into their platforms, such as W-2s or 1099s, many businesses depend on outside services. But frequently, they are blind to the difficulties that consumers encounter. For example, customers may have to manually upload photographs or the documents themselves if a mobile page loads slowly or if they are unable to import a document. App crashes or glitches may result from these problems.

Businesses are unable to promptly address user difficulties without insights into these issues. As a result, disgruntled consumers may turn to different filing strategies and begin over. Such experiences can leave users feeling impatient and dissatisfied, prompting them to seek assistance from a tax professional for a quicker resolution.