The Internal Revenue Service wants taxpayers to know that it can be tech-savvy, too. The IRS jumped into the world of technology with both feet when it launched the IRS2Go mobile app in 2011. This is the official IRS app, and it’s available in both English and Spanish. It can handle basic tax issues – up to and including paying your tax bill, of course. Best yet, it’s free.
The History of the IRS2Go App
IRS2Go had been downloaded more than 5 million times by 2016, within five years of its launch, and that’s not even counting iOS platforms which were introduced a bit later. It’s ranked No. 1 in the finance category by both Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Usage tends to ramp up by 30 percent or so during tax filing season.
The app was pretty rudimentary at first, but then the IRS also added those payment options when it tweaked IRS2Go in 2016.
What Does IRS2Go Do?
The IRS2Go mobile app offers three major features: You can check the status of your tax refund, gain access to free help in preparing your tax returns and make payments. The app also offers some one-size-fits-all tip alerts.
It used to be that you could request transcripts of previous years’ tax returns on the app as well, either by mail or by electronic download, but this option is no longer available on the latest versions of the IRS2Go app. You’re limited to calling 800-908-9946 if you want a transcript or accessing it online at the IRS website.
The app also offers a list of IRS telephone numbers for applicable questions or needs. You might have to resort to this option if the refund-tracking portion of the IRS2Go app gives you what seems to be erroneous information – or, worse, if you’re getting a message that you’re supposed to call them because something’s wrong. You should be provided with a phone number in this case, however.
Check Your Refund Status
Your refund status should be available about 24 hours after the IRS receives your tax return if you e-filed. Otherwise, it will take four weeks if you mail in a paper return. The IRS updates these statuses daily.
This part of the app requires that you enter your Social Security number, your tax-filing status – such as single or married filing jointly – and the amount of your expected refund as it appears on your tax return. Your Social Security number will be encrypted for security purposes. The app will then tell you the date on which the IRS received your return, whether your return has yet been approved and the date your refund was sent if that’s occurred yet.
Make a Tax Payment
The payment part of the app provides you with access to IRS Direct Pay where you can have the money debited directly from your bank account – again, for free. You’ll also have the option to use a payment processor if you prefer to pay with a credit card or debit card instead. There’s a modest fee for this service, but it’s charged by your card provider, not by the IRS.
Tax assistance is available on the app from the Volunteers Income Tax Assistance program, commonly referred to as VITA, and from the TCE programs, Tax Counseling for the Elderly. The app will direct you to your nearest VITA or TCE office when you enter your zip code, and it will even give you directions as to how to get there if you're unsure. You can also access free tax software to handle the preparation of your return yourself. You must be a senior or low-income to qualify for these programs, however.
Advantages of the IRS2Go Mobile App
The access to free tax preparation software is a very nice feature if you qualify for it, but you’re not limited to accessing this on a mobile app. It’s available on the IRS Free File website as well. You must have had an income of $72,000 or less in 2020 to qualify for free preparation of your return, but you can download and e-file the necessary tax forms and prepare them yourself if your income was more than this.
The tips feature can be particularly helpful as well if you have general questions or concerns and you want some easy guidance rather than having to call a tax professional or paying for other tax preparation software programs. The IRS makes the tax tips feature available each day during tax season and three times a week during the summer. They’ll notify you of any breaking news or changes that might affect your tax situation and offer guidance on policies that sometimes confuse taxpayers. You have to sign up for the tips, but then they’ll be sent to your email as they’re issued.
And the IRS isn’t resting on its laurels with IRS2Go. It indicates that it’s receptive to feedback and is willing to add new features as necessary.
Drawbacks of the IRS2Go Mobile App
One of IRS2Go’s major drawbacks is that you can’t use it to file your tax return, or any other tax forms for that matter. And it doesn’t offer much in the way of calculators or similar tools.
As for the encryption of your Social Security number, that’s a good thing, but technology is technology and gaps and glitches can happen. No matter how you look at it, you’re using all these features electronically, so there’s always an outside chance that your information could fall into the wrong hands. This is particularly true if you neglect to clear your phone’s browser when you’re finished or if you use an unsecured wireless connection, such as the one at your local library.
You can access the app’s Secure Access page to get log-in security codes if you have concerns.
Using the App
IRS2Go version 22.214.171.124 is available for Android and Amazon devices, while iPhones and iPads must have iOS version 10.0 or later. And you’re not limited to your phone or other mobile devices when it comes to keeping up with the IRS, or with IRS2Go’s ongoing tips and some features. You can follow the app on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and on YouTube.
The refund-checking feature of the app is, unfortunately, only available on IRS2Go version 5.0 or later, but you can easily upgrade if you don’t have this.
Where Can You Get the App?
IRS2Go is available at all the usual places: Google Play, the Apple App Store and Amazon. You can also access it at the iTunes App Store if you have an iOS device. Android users were limited to Google Play at one point, but the app has been available for these devices at the App Store and Amazon since 2018.
- IRS: IRS2Go Mobile App
- SmartAsset: Reviewing the IRS2Go App
- NOLO: Track Your Refund With the IRS2Go App
- Digital.gov: Check Your Refund Status AND Pay Your Taxes with IRS2Go
- IRS: Taxpayers Can Check the Status of Their Refund on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go App
- MoneyTips: IRS2Go 101 – All About the Internal Revenue Service App
- Nixon Peabody: IRS2Go – The IRS Has a Mobile App
- IRS: File Your Federal Taxes Online for Free
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years. She is also a paralegal, specializing in areas of personal finance, bankruptcy and estate law. She writes as the tax expert for The Balance.