Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at mobile apps that can make the CPA's job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Learn about bitcoin with Coinbase

Digital currency is coming, and it's coming fast. One day soon, you're likely to be asked, "What's bitcoin? How do I use it? How can I transact business with it?" As a trusted business adviser, you'd better be ready to answer those questions. Coinbase, an international digital wallet that allows you to buy, use, and accept bitcoin currency, is a good learning tool.

The app is simple and clean. You register an account and then fund it. That's a bit of a hassle, especially for the princely sum of $35 (I bought 0.05 bitcoin), which was the most I was willing to advance on something that is still a long way from mainstream. Once my account was opened, verified (two factors), and funded, I was ready to go. My initial transaction was to send a friend $5 (actually 0.006181 bitcoin). Coinbase constantly monitors the U.S. dollar/bitcoin exchange rate and handles bidirectional conversions on the fly. We immediately followed up with a phone call, reminiscent of the "Did you get the fax I just sent?" conversations from the early '80s. Coinbase handles all aspects of transactions from, to, and with bitcoin. It displays a well-laid-out transaction log, and it's simple to send or receive funds either with your "named account" or anonymously. Finally, it enables transfers between a bank account (in dollars), and your Coinbase account (in bitcoin).

Now, I am not suggesting operational investment in bitcoin in general, nor am I recommending the Coinbase platform (remember, they hold your "money" just like a bank, but without insurance or oversight!). I do, however, encourage you to learn a little about bitcoin, and Coinbase is an excellent way to do so.

  • Website: coinbase.com
  • Cost: Free
  • Operating Systems: iOS; Android; Web

Track refunds with IRS2Go

When I was practicing as a tax partner, I often fantasized about a retirement program designed around something like "if I had a dollar for every time a client called to ask when their refund would arrive, I'd be a wealthy guy." I was convinced it would work! While this app won't feed your IRA, it can significantly reduce those pesky phone calls. IRS2Go is the official smartphone app of the IRS, and it's actually quite helpful. I've spoken with many practitioners who've told me they regularly tell clients to download the app to check on their refund status. 

IRS2Go Refund Status

The app has several other features but, frankly speaking, none as desirable as the refund tracker. IRS2Go is available in English and Spanish.

Greg LaFollette is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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