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taxes

Even the IRS Has a Smart Phone App Now

You can check your refund and get tax tips on the go.

Chances are you haven't filed your 2010 tax return yet (I haven't even received all the documents necessary yet to file). But if you've already sent your forms in because you want the money Uncle Sam owes you as soon as possible, the IRS has a new way for you to check the status of your refund: a free smart phone app.

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You already can track your refund online with the IRS Where's My Refund? tool 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of an e-filed return or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return. With the new IRS2Go app, you can check your refund's status while you're, well, on the go.

As IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman says, the new smart phone app engages "taxpayers where they want when they want it." Stuck in traffic in a snow storm with nothing better to do (as thousands in Washington, D.C., were Wednesday)? Perfect time to check your refund's status. Waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant? Better look to see if the check's in the mail to help pay off your credit-card bill after dining out.

Now, if you're among the 50 million or so taxpayers who itemize, you probably already know that you won't be getting your refund any time soon. That's because the IRS won't start processing itemized returns until February 14. The agency needed extra time to update its systems to accommodate tax-law changes (see Your Refund on Hold?). So while you're waiting to file your return, you can take advantage of the IRS2Go app daily tax tips, which will provide information about deductions and credits that can help lower your tax bill. (Kiplinger.com also publishes daily tax-filing tips, starting in mid-February. Sign up to receive Kiplinger's Tax Tips free via e-mail.)

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The app is available from the Apple App store and the Android marketplace. For those who plan to use the app to track their refund, you'll have to enter your Social Security number in your smart phone, but it will be masked and encrypted for security purposes.

If you don't like waiting on the IRS each year to get your refund, try our Easy-to-Use Tax Withholding Calculator to see how much money you can add back into your paycheck now. And use our new calculator to see how much the 2011 tax cut will boost your paycheck.

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