Five Free Tools for Faster Tax Prep

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Tax season is upon us, and while it's definitely not my favorite season, I've learned that it doesn't have to create a sense of all-out dread. In fact, it's easier than ever to make filing your taxes a fairly efficient process, thanks to a wide variety of free apps and online tools.

Here are five free apps or online tools worth trying out:

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1. Smart Receipts on Android: While a lot of apps will store images of your receipts, not many will digitize and categorize them for you. This free app scans the image of your receipt and pulls out key data like the price and location. However, the best part is the free PDF reports you can generate at the click of a button.

2. Investopedia's Tax Dictionary: Honestly, the hardest part about tax season for me is that I often feel like I don't know what 50% of the terms on my tax forms mean. This great online dictionary provides a quick and easy-to-understand overview of all the most common and even some super uncommon terms.

3. Expensify: This tool is available as a web-based software or an app from the Android and iPhone stores. It goes just beyond receipts and lets you track things like mileage and time for small business owners.

4. Mint: If you're not already tracking your finances on Mint, then tax season is a good time to start. It will give you a great snapshot of your income and expenses every month, and should be helpful as you plan your finances for next year.

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5. Bloomberg's Quick Tax Reference App: This app is available from both the Android and Apple store for phones and tablets. It's most helpful for looking up things like mileage rates, personal exemptions, and retirement plan limits.

Which online tools do you find helpful during tax season?

(Image credits: DIY Diva; Smart Receipts; Bloomberg BNA)

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