Do you need to scan your tax documents? Use your phone’s camera

Using your phone or tablet camera, you can scan tax documents and save them to your device.

Josh Miller/CNET

This story is part of taxes 2022CNET’s coverage of the best tax software and everything you need to file your returns quickly, accurately, and on time.

At that time of year again: tax season. This means that you have already received those important documents from your employer that help you file your 2021 tax returns. If your company submits W-2 or 1099 forms electronically, you are set to file your taxes online (possibly via TurboTax or H&R Block). If you receive documents by mail, you will want to digitize the forms first.

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This way, you can easily upload files to whatever service you use and don’t have to manually enter all your information, such as your tax identification number and income sources, which can be annoying if you have more complicated taxes.

However, you can convert any physical tax papers you have to a digital format using just your phone or tablet. Whether you have an iOS or Android device, there are tools built into your iPhone or Android that allow you to use your camera to quickly scan a physical document and convert it to a PDF file with ease. Here’s how.


You can use the Files app to scan paper documents on iOS.

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How to scan your tax documents with your iPhone or iPad

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you have two ways to scan your documents with the camera, but we will focus on using the Files app. This method is preferred because the document is saved in files, which makes it easy to modify and share on your computer or other device.

1. To get started, open a file files Implementation.

2. Next, tap Three-dot menu icon in the top right.

3. He hits Scan documents.

The camera will then open, and you will be asked to put the document into view. The best way to scan your tax document is to place it on a flat surface, such as a table or desk, in a well-lit area. Stay away from any surfaces that are white or reflect too much light, or the camera will not be able to scan the document properly.

Now, position the phone or tablet so that it is directly above the document and you will see a blue overlay appear on the document, indicating that it is being scanned. If the document is scanned correctly, it will automatically be placed in the completed scans, allowing you to scan more documents if you wish.

You can then click Document Preview in the bottom right to rescan or edit your documents. You can crop it – in case automatic scanning isn’t great – and add a filter (like grayscale) to improve its readability. If you are satisfied with the scans, tap Memorizes To store the document as a PDF in the Files app. You can then rename the document or share it via email. If you plan to file taxes on your mobile device, you can also upload a PDF to any tax apps via the Files app.


On Android, you can scan tax documents using Google Drive.

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How to scan your tax papers with your Android device

On Android, there are several ways to scan documents, but they usually differ slightly depending on the phone model. While the Pixel 6 and S21, for example, have a document scanner built into the camera app, the OnePlus 9 Pro and Moto G Power don’t. So instead, we’ll be scanning documents through the Google Drive app, which isn’t technically built-in, but most Android devices have the Google Drive app pre-installed, so it’s fine.

1. First, open a file google drive Implementation.

2. After that, click on the blue button + button at the bottom right.

3. then press Survey.

With the tax document lying flat on a non-reflective surface, place the camera directly on top of the paper and place it in the frame. Make sure to focus on the tax document, then press the shutter button to take a picture. If the picture looks good, tap Yes. You will then see an image automatically cropped from your tax document. You can then add a filter to the document (such as black and white), rotate it and adjust the borders. If you want to add more documents, click File + icon at the bottom left.

If you are satisfied with the scans, press Memorizes at the bottom right. Then you can name the document, choose an account (if there are multiple accounts) and select a folder to save the document (as a PDF). Once you do that, press Memorizes again at the bottom right. With your tax document saved in Google Drive, you can add comments, search them via keywords and of course share them via email or directly to any tax apps you might have on your Android device.

Now that it’s tax season, you may have questions. If you want to know more, check out this The 13 best tax deductions to look forward to in 2022 And the How solar panels can make you money.