Before we get started
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Anybody that has to file tax returns will know that unless your finances are exceedingly simple, it can be a somewhat confusing minefield when it comes to pulling all the necessary information together. In the UK, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) makes the whole process much simpler for anyone that doesn’t pay the higher rate of tax because they rarely need to complete a return. However, there are a few circumstances that do require you to submit an annual tax return, for example if you own a business, work as a freelancer, fall into the higher rate tax brackets, or have multiple incomes such as from stocks or rental properties.
If you have your own accountant, sorting out your tax affairs can be considerably less hassle, but filling in the tax return can usually be done quite easily online, or with dedicated apps that can help you make the necessary calculations. In countries such as the US, nearly everyone has to complete a yearly tax return, so we’ve also included a few US-specific apps on our list. Note that there are very few apps that can actually submit the tax return for you, but our selection includes some invaluable apps that will help you check and validate all the relevant calculations.
Enjoy our selection below, and don’t forget to file your taxes on time this year to avoid a fine!
1. iPAYE UK Tax Calculator
This little app balances your payslips and provides answers to the most common question such as whether you’re paying the correct tax and national insurance. When it’s time to complete your tax return, it’ll give you the confidence that the values you’re entering are accurate and correct. Furthermore, it’s feature help you work out such useful things such as how much additional net pay you’ll receive if you get that elusive bonus or pay rise, and whether your P45 document is correct. All the calculations can be saved, and it can be used for an unlimited number of employees and lots of different scenarios. At only 69 pence, can you afford to be without it?
2. iSalary UK
iSalary UK is another PAYE income tax calculator that provides an easy way to work out your take home income. Work out essential items such as net wages, income tax, national insurance, pension, and any tax free allowances and deductions. Like most of the apps relevant to UK taxes, it’s based on data provided by the UK HMRC, so it should be 100% accurate. iSalary UK includes a number of very useful features, such as being able to export payslips to PDF files, several different tax years, and hourly/daily/weekly/monthly/yearly salary input. It’s also one of the cheapest tax applications at just 69 pence!
3. Tax Check
Details: Apple website, developer website
The Tax Check utility is aimed at an American audience, even though it’s available on the UK app store. It helps you to prepare your 2011/2012 US Federal Income Tax figures and checks the final results. There is a multitude of options to cross-check the values before you finally submit them. The information presented can be used to modify various standard US tax forms, such as the W-4 withholding tax form, or the 1030-ES (estimated tax) form.
4. Taxsoft 2011
Taxsoft includes every single form that you might need to prepare an American tax return – such as forms W-2, 1099-R, 2441, 4562, 8582, and dozens more. The developers claim that you can prepare your entire tax return in about 30 minutes using the built-in tools. The software asks a series of basic questions complete with detailed but easily understood explanations about how to answer them, and you can print a paper version of the IRS forms with all the answers filled in the correct place. The application validates all your figures, making it one of the easiest ways to prepare a US tax return. The user interface isn’t all that pretty, but the results are what counts…
5. UK Salary Calculator
The UK Salary Calculator provides a detailed breakdown of your income, for residents of the UK. Split your income tax into yearly, monthly or weekly values in any of the tax UK brackets (i.e. 20, 40 or 50%). You can also work out your national insurance and pension contributions, student loans and national insurance contributions.
Your personal tax allowances are calculated based on your age and income, and you can include additional allowances and other deductions. For employees, it’s quite an invaluable tool to determine your take home earnings in the next financial year, and like many of the other apps it’s based on up to date information provided by HMRC. Perhaps best of all is that it’s free, but don’t be put off by the rather disconcerting picture of UK Chancellor George Osbourne which is used as the application’s icon!
6. VAT 100 Pro
VAT 100 Pro can keep track of your UK VAT records, and records everything in one place where they can be accessed with a few clicks. Use the app to mange multiple companies’ VAT records, so when it’s time to submit your VAT forms you have the correct information to hand. Unfortunately, the app can’t actually submit your VAT information to HMRC (that’s still up to you), but at least you can be sure that everything has been thoroughly checked and validated beforehand.