By Rachel Ochman
The IRS has long urged taxpayers to adopt technological tools to facilitate filing. Now the agency is taking its mission to your smartphone. Yesterday the IRS revealed IRS2Go, its first smartphone application, which lets taxpayers check on the status of their refunds and get tax tips.
Both Apple and Android users can download the free app from the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace, respectively.
It works a lot like the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund” tool on its website. After downloading the app, taxpayers first enter a Social Security number masked and encrypted for security purposes. Next they’ll select a filing status (same as the one on your return). Finally, users enter the amount of the refund expected. And voila. The status appears on your smartphone screen.
How quickly you can access the information also mimics the website tool and depends on how you file. For e-filers, the refund function will work about 72 hours after the IRS sends an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your return. Paper filers will have to wait three to four weeks to check their statuses. (If you’re wondering: About 70% of the 142 million individual tax returns were filed electronically last year. And 60.7 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones in the third quarter of 2010, according to comScore’s most recent data.)
The app has a few other nifty features. You can opt to receive daily tax tips during the filing season, and periodically throughout the year, by entering your e-mail address. You can even elect to follow the IRS on Twitter via the app. And if you’re flummoxed by all of the techie options, the app gives you a “call” button so you can get in touch with the IRS the old-fashioned way.
The app signals another one of the IRS’s attempts to move into the 21st century. “This new smart phone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want when they want it,” says IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This phone app is a first step for us,” he later adds.
The IRS’s taxpayer advocate, in her annual report to Congress, urged the IRS to get with the program and learn how to maximize use of the technology available.
Readers, do you think this app is a good example of ways the IRS can modernize? Would you entrust your tax information and Social Security number to your phone?