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5 best apps to help with your 2020 Australian tax return

Image: Getty

Update: This article has been updated for the 2020 tax season.

Australians spend a lot of time on their smartphones, and in a highly unusual year you needn't take your eyes off your screen to do your 2020 tax return either.

There are many options out there, but Yahoo Finance has selected five that are suited specifically for Australian tax returns and that have received decent online reviews.

Here they are, in no specific order:

ATO

The Australian Taxation Office has its own smartphone app, which is free to download and use, for both Android and iOS.

The useful myDeductions feature returns for the 2020 tax season, where you can record expenses, work-related car trips, sole trader income and photos of your receipts as you come across them.

Then when you're ready to lodge, the software can pre-fill your tax return with that info. If you're using an agent, the software can email it all to them.

The ATO app also takes care of your superannuation, which might be useful to have in the same place during a year when many Australians withdrew their super early for emergency funds.

POP

POP launched in 2018, targeting it at young adults with reasonably straight-forward tax affairs. The startup was founded by two tax accountants who are millennials themselves.

The app is an artificial intelligence tax agent that compares your situation to your peers. It will take you through a checklist of deductibles that other people in your profession are legitimately claiming in order to maximise your return.

The service costs $49 for "simple" tax returns, which is $10 up from last year but still cheaper than hiring an accountant.

It's only $19 for those with an income below $20,000, and a $99 investor tier for people who own rental real estate or have had capital gains events.

There is even a $149 tier where POP will do your taxes for you, ideal for those with more complex arrangements like running their own business.

Etax

Etax.com.au is the most experienced out of the third party service providers listed here, established in 1998.

The Etax mobile app, according to the company, reviews tax returns with exactly the same rigour as its traditional service. The app is available for both Android and iOS.

Users enter in their data and upload photos of supporting documents, which can be done as it comes, not just at tax time.

The return is then reviewed by qualified accountants, while the user can message them anytime over the app.

The fee starts at $69.90 for simple returns, while it steps up for more complex tax returns.

H&R Block Online Tax Express

H&R Block is a US tax accounting service established in 1955, but the app is relatively new compared to more established online players like Etax.

The price for Australian taxpayers is pretty competitive, starting at $19 for those with incomes up to $30,000. The standard rate is $39, while $59 and $79 tiers cater for clients with more complex needs.

All submissions are reviewed by a human tax agent before sending off to the ATO.

The reviews are a bit mixed in the Google Play store, but the company is large and well-established so there is some assurance there if anything goes astray.

TaxBot

TaxBot is the most controversial app we found.

This electronic tax agent service distinguishes itself as ridiculously cheap – because there is no human intervention or checking anywhere along the conveyor belt.

While the 2020 fee has not yet been revealed, last year it cost just $20 to chat with TaxBot in Facebook Messenger to answer questions about your finances.

The robot will pull out other personal information from the ATO, then lodge your return.

Despite its non-human state, TaxBot is a proper tax agent with a registration number with the Tax Practitioners Board.

But how does it perform? Past reviews have been mixed at best.

TaxBot will open for chat from July 16.

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