Addressing all the paperwork in the tax prep process

Paying taxes is one of the most frustrating processes that Americans are forced to endure every single year. There are few things more aggravating than having to record every little bit of income, analyze it and report it to the U.S. government. It's never easy - there are always reams of paperwork that need to be completed, and every page has countless little details that are endlessly (some might say needlessly) complex.

If only there were a way to simplify the process.

Perhaps there is. One potential solution is to rely more on tablet- and smartphone-based applications for communicating with Uncle Sam - by tapping into mobile form software, consumers and tax-filing services might both find a way to make significant improvements. Greater levels of ease and convenience could be just around the corner.

Countless complications abound
At seemingly every single step along the way, there are a million tiny little difficulties that go into paying taxes. Fox Business provided an interesting example - consider the challenge of declaring foreign assets on a domestic U.S. tax return. Spoiler alert: It's a massive pain.

"You need to file the FBAR separately from Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets," Bankrate's Judy O'Connor explained. "While the forms may seem the same, there are different requirements in determining whether you must file them."

In other words, you're going to find yourself entering the same information on multiple forms, just in slightly different formats.

Doesn't this just sound like a situation that's begging for mobile forms to iron out the wrinkles? One of the beautiful things about mobile applications is their ability to conveniently (and securely!) save your data for easy use later. This could come in handy in many fields - tax prep absolutely one of them.

Form usability matters
To the IRS and to the tax filing companies that helps us out every April 15, this should be a major difference-maker. After all, with all forms, whether they're on paper or mobile devices, usability is vitally important. That's the main point driven home by Justin Mifsud, a mobile user interface designer, according to Smashing Magazine.

"When using a website, users have a particular goal," Mifsud noted. "If designed well, the website will meet that goal and align it with the goals of the organization behind the website. Standing between the user's goal and the organization's goals is very often a form."

We should be striving toward a future where instead of impeding people's goals, forms can help them. All they need is to be "smarter," more intuitive and less obtuse. The mobile revolution can help with all of the above.

Cal Brown