What are the top tax apps?

author-avatar By on September 11, 2020
What are the top tax apps?

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Every end of financial year, millions of Australians hope to receive some sort of tax refund, yet billions of dollars of expenses are left unclaimed. A tax claiming app may help you claim the right amount and maximise your refund.

While one-touch payroll and the MyGov Australian Tax Office (ATO) portal have made it easier for many to lodge their tax return, those with expenses to claim still have some work to do. With these systems, if you’ve had no expenses and have a simple tax declaration, happy days. However, if you’ve donated to charity, started working from home, or driven for work purposes, among other things, this is where it can get a little trickier. So, where do you start? There’s an app for that.

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What are the top apps for filing a tax return?

In Australia there are many apps to choose from, with varying costs and feature lists, but what you might not know is the ATO has its own expenses feature in its app called myDeductions - and it’s free. We’ve detailed a few more in the table below, with pricing information correct as of September 2020.

Company App

Price Guide

ATO myDeductions

No cost

POP Tax

$19-$149

TaxFox

$0-$154.99

H&R Block

$19-$79

Etax

$69.90<

TaxBot

$15-$20

Note that pricing varies based how ‘simple’ your tax return is, and the level of human engagement with your file.

ATO myDeductions

Using the myDeductions tool is free. However, where it differs is that you’re not using an accountant to check over everything to maximise your refund. After all, you didn’t expect the ATO to give you a free lunch, did you?

With this app you can record expenses and deductions, vehicle trips, income if you’re a sole trader, and also upload photos of receipts and invoices. From there you can either lodge yourself or forward it on to an accountant. It’s available on both Android and Apple.

POP Tax

POP aims to simplify and streamline “the chore” of doing tax returns. Using a ‘smart engine’ called Max-Deductible, the system draws upon thousands of returns across multiple industries to give users an insight into what others are claiming in their field. From there you add your deductions as normal.

Pricing starts at $19 if you earn less than $20,000, while the ‘Simple’ option is most popular and costs $49. If you’re invested in real estate or subject to facing capital gains tax, there’s a $99 option. Or you can fully automate things, whether you’re a small business owner or an individual, for $149.

TaxFox

TaxFox is another relative newcomer in the market, officially launched in July 2020. The app also lets you maximise deductions with job-specific tips, and lets you benchmark your deductions and refunds with others in your field. It also lets you log working-from-home hours and associated expenses as well as snap and store your receipts.

The free version enables you to save up to 12 receipts and 20 work from home days. The cheapest paid version costs $47.99, allowing up to 24 receipts and 40 days from home. From there, the next tier is $83.99, which includes 100 receipts and 80 days working from home. For just under $155 you’ll get 3,000 receipts and unlimited working-from-home logs. It’s available on both Android and Apple.

H&R Block

Called the ‘Online Tax Express Return’, H&R Block’s app is like others in the list in that it provides deduction suggestions. It also enables you to enlist an accountant to review your return, and you get to speak to a professional online.

Pricing starts at $19 for incomes up to $30,000, for total deductions up to $300. The $39 tier is for incomes greater than $30,000, and also allows for deductions up to $300. The $59 ‘Deluxe’ tier allows for deductions greater than $300 and includes capital gains calculations. The $79 ‘Premier’ tier is for unlimited incomes, and allows for rental properties, capital gains, small businesses and the whole package. It’s available on Android and Apple.

Etax

Like other apps, Etax’s app allows you to snap and save receipts and other deductions, while also allowing you to contact your accountant. It also lets you select your occupation and from there it provides insight into common deductions for your role. Two tax accountants watch over your file to make sure everything is correct.

Online tax returns start at $69.90, while if you opt for your fee to be taken from your tax refund later, the fee from refund service is $27.50. ‘Low income' services also start at $38.50, while if you’ve got a small business it’s $186.90. The app is available on both Android and Apple.

Tax Bot

As the name implies, Tax Bot is an electronic tax agent that has no human intervention or an accountant to look over your claims. Tax Bot claims you can do your return in as little as five minutes, and it’s mobile-only, with a chatbot delivered via Facebook Messenger. The app also claims it’s ‘no paperwork’ and pulls your data from the ATO. From there, you input deductions, donations and so on. Deductions max out at $300 - if you have more to claim, TaxBot might refer you to an accountant anyway.

Pricing is $20, however if you share TaxBot via Facebook Messenger, the price comes down to $15. Tax Bot itself says it’s designed for simple tax returns, rather than complex returns involving investment properties and so forth. It’s available via the Facebook Messenger app, on both Android and Apple.

Savings.com.au's two cents

Maximising your tax refund in Australia seems like a national pastime. And of course, there’s businesses willing to take your money to do so. The good news is, these costs are tax deductible. However, just because you can use a paid app, does that mean you should?

If you’ve got a simple tax return, many of these apps are arguably rendered redundant by using the ATO’s own app and then lodging via MyGov once everything is pre-loaded. Additional features in paid options might also only be window dressing, such as slick dashboards and expense insights to give you ideas on what to claim. However, many of these paid apps' cheapest tiers only allow up to a $300 deduction, which you can claim via the ATO myDeductions app anyway.

When you start claiming more than $300 or if you have investment income is where these apps might prove their worth. Usually provided with accountants watching over your shoulder, they can be a good option if you’ve got multiple deductions, multiple income streams, investment properties, share portfolios and more. Additionally, if you’ve got complex work-from-home arrangements, accounting apps can help you there, too.

Overall, it depends on what type of tax claimer you are. If you’re like a large portion of Australians who claim less than $300 and just want to get it out of the way, the MyGov portal and ATO app are likely sufficient. However, if it’s more complex, it’s worth at least looking into paid options.


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author-avatar
Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison is passionate about breaking down complex financial topics for the everyday consumer.

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