This free app makes online tax prep much less painful

taxes online
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FileThis is a freemium service that automatically downloads and organizes financial statements, and it can significantly relieve the burden of filing taxes online.

In the past, when tax season rolled around, I used to log into my various online finance accounts and manually download statements for the year. Three words aptly describe this joyless chore: Tee. Dee. Us.

FileThis, a terrific, freemium cloud-based service, does all the work for you. FileThis automatically, and regularly, logs into your accounts and downloads PDFs of your credit card, bank, mortgage, utility, health insurance, and other statements.

Why you should use FileThis

You can archive statements in one central location for easy access, such as in Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, SmartVault, and the FileThis Cloud. The PDFs are keyword-searchable, too, which is helpful when you're digging for deductions and need documentation. And FileThis also lets you view upcoming bills and payments that are due on a calendar.

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FileThis has free apps for iOS (with an Apple Watch extension) and Android. The software is essentially a mobile version of the website and doesn't add any compelling features, except push alerts for bill reminders and the ability to view payments that are due on your Apple Watch. Unfortunately, FileThis doesn't update its mobile apps frequently; the current iOS version came out in November, and the Android app hasn't seen an update in the past year. So it's not exactly a mobile-first service.

Why you might not want to use FileThis

Then there are the security concerns. If you're not comfortable with sharing potentially sensitive data with FileThis, the service isn't for you. The company says it uses trusted security safeguards and that your data is always transmitted to and from your FileThis account using 256-bit SSL encryption. FileThis uses Amazon's cloud services, and the company says it earned both the Verisign security seal and McAfee Secure badge certifications.

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The free FileThis option lets you connect to up to six different accounts, and you get 500MB of storage in the FileThis Cloud. The service fetches statements once a week. For $2 per month, you get 12 account connections, 1GB of FileThisCloud storage, and it also runs once per week. I sprang for the $5 per month service, which provides up to 30 connections, fetches statements daily, and gives you 10GB of FileThisCloud storage.

FileThis isn't the only service that can ease the process of downloading all of your financial statements. Finovera is a similar service that also uses 256-bit SSL, but unlike FileThis, it's completely free. The company says it makes money through partnerships with banks, financial institutions and other companies. Finovera last updated its iOS app in November and its Android app in December. (I didn't test Finovera). 

If you're comfortable with the potential security risk, give FileThis a go. You can start with the free service and then upgrade to the premium version if you like it. Anything that can reduce the torture of tax season is at least worth a try.

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