Tax Tools: Save Time, Money and Stress

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I hate to be a Daniel Downer, but it's approximately a month away from that most detested day of the year: Federal taxes must be filed by Monday, April 15th. As someone who juggled W2s galore as a freelancer for years, I know all about the pain and procrastination of filing season. Here are a few helpful tools, both online, offline, and hardware to ease the burden of tackling all those forms.

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I remember one of the biggest pains in the keister was keeping all the receipts for deductions throughout the year. My filing system matured from a shoebox 'o receipts later to a filing cabinet with binders full of all my expenses categorized into travel, equipment, miscellaneous, contributions, and anything else help chip away at what I'd owe per year. 

Expensify is a cloud hosted application which lets individuals and small companies track receipts in a way that's almost fun. If you're one for analytics, graphs, charts, with an easy to navigate system for tracking and scanning receipts, keeping tabs on mileage and time, and accurately accounting for the miles traveled via GPS tracking, this application + mobile software solution is worth a try, especially considering Expensify's services are absolutely free for individuals.

 
 There are plenty of document scanners available, but if you're a small space dweller or someone who simply hates the idea of adding yet another electronic device into the home office, the $89.00 IRIScan Mouse might suit your needs for making copies of all your relevant tax documents. The scanner is built right into the mouse, and ships with A free 3-month Evernote Premium subscription included and software to convert any scanned document into a searchable PDF document.

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I don't know how many of you out there have transitioned from paper to a paperless filing system, but even though I've eliminated most of my paper-hoarding tendencies developed over years of freelancing, I still find the service of paper shredder handy around this time. Consider a shredder an investment for your tax duties, spring cleaning, and in some cases, a great way to add some paper matter to your compost bin. Here are the best paper shredders of 2013.

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What about once you're in the act of filing? There are a myriad of overlooked credits (here are 20 of the most overlooked tax savings via the LA Times as a refresher course), but you know better yet, there's an app for that. EITC Finder (Earned Income Tax Credit) is an app offered by tax-prep software developer Intuit for iOS and Android users "specifically designed for lower and middle income taxpayers". It never hurts to check, especially when it can mean the difference between owing and being owed.

(Images: Top: Expensify; as linked above)

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