Emerging Financial Technology Apps with a Tax-Angle

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the Finovate Spring conference. Seventy-two companies in the financial technology sector presented new or about-to-launch products. Here are the ten financial technologies that I found personally interesting from a tax perspective.

1
Business Benchmarking Tools from SizeUp

Business data intelligence report from SizeUp
Sample report from SizeUp.com.

SizeUp enables businesses to see how they compare to other businesses in the same industry. SizeUp does this by synthesizing data from hundreds of sources to calculate metrics such as average revenues, average salaries per worker, and average revenue per community resident.

I think this is a great tool for accountants and tax professionals to bookmark. We can use SizeUp to help our small business clients answer questions, how do I compare to similar businesses in my area? Or, which neighborhoods have less competition? Or, which neighbors spend the most money on this particular industry?

Here's a suggested report to run. Select the tax return preparation and filing industry and your city. And then see what data is available. Interesting, huh?

2
Calculators from SmartAsset

Tax calculator from SmartAsset.com.

On May 12, 2015, SmartAsset launched tax calculators that estimate a person's federal, state and local taxes, plus FICA, sales tax, fuel taxes, and property tax. These calculator’s cover all fifty states plus the District of Columbia. You can plug into household income, location and filing status. It's a quick and neat way to get a sense of a person's total tax burden.

"SmartAsset has more online money calculators than you can shake a stick at!", says personal finance blogger Bobby Lee. Besides the newly launched tax calculators, the site offers thirteen calculators in the categories of buying a home, refinancing, retirement, and life insurance.

3
Automated Expense Tracking from Moven

Moven provides instant categorization of money spent using their debit card and mobile app. Instant categorization of spending caught my attention for its tax impact. Perhaps this is a way for clients to keep track of their tax-deductible spending?

4
Digital Receipts And Mileage Tracking from Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is an app that helps people digitize their receipts and track mileage. Plus, data can be exported to Quickbooks and other accounting programs. By combining features such as automatic categorization, taking photos of receipts, and linking expenses to receipts found in email, the Shoebox app could represent where bookkeeping is heading in the future. The tax angle: a tech-savvy way to save those receipts for ​tax purposes.

5
Another Receipt Tracking App from Slice

Slice looks through your email to find and keep receipts. This could be another tool for helping clients track their tax-deductible spending.

6
More Automated Categorization from Yodlee Sense

Yodlee Sense automatically categorizes deposits and expenses, which can later be edited by people using the software. Not yet available, look for Yodlee Sense to be a future service offered through banks.

7
Business Expense Tracking from Bento for Business

Bento for Business help businesses manage employee purchase cards. The interesting thing for me is the expense tracking features built into the Bento app. Bento automatically categorises expenses. (The categories, by the way, are set up by the merchants, so it may or may not match up with how our clients prefer to categorize the expense.) Accountants and bookkeepers will remain alert for how to help their clients make the most of this sort of emerging technology.

8
More Business Expense Tracking from Dash

Employees can snap a photo of the receipt and attach it to the expense item, assign a category to the expense, and add notes, all within the Dash app.

Like Bento for Business (see above), Dash helps businesses manage employee purchase cards. Employees can request funds at the point of need and get funding approval from managers in real time with the Dash app.

By tagging expenses and taking notes, employees can keep contemporaneous records. Apps such as Dash can help our clients create and maintain tax-compliant records to meet the IRS's strict substantiation rules.

9
Electronic Payments for Government from Dwolla

Dwolla processes electronic payments for just 25 cents per transaction using the banking industry's automated clearing house network (ACH, the same system used for direct deposit). The tax angle? Clients can pay their fees to go to US Tax Court through the Dwolla system.

10
Coming Soon: Real Time Financial Data Streamed Directly to You from Ficinity

Finicity is building the next generation of financial data aggregation that will push financial data directly to apps and devices and software. It's doing this by developing a new standard for sharing financial data in real-time, through its newly launched, TxPush.org is a special interest group.

Why we should pay attention: in the future, it may be possible for financial data to be pushed directly to people with user-specified categorization of deposits and payments. That could mean that Finicity could be creating a future when everyone has access to real-time accounting. If so, accountants will want to help clients set up tax-ready categories, so the financial data can flow seamlessly into our tax software.