- Free filing (optional donation)
- Those with simple tax requirements
Did you say, “free?” This is a big benefit that Canadians lock into when it comes to WealthSimple Tax (formerly SimpleTax). It just can’t be ignored. And it’s especially helpful for people who have simple taxes and can’t afford to pay an expert to look them over. The program is NETFILE approved, meeting the encryption and privacy requirements drawn up by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). So you know your financial information is safe when using the program.
The software takes you through your taxes step-by-step, making it simple to file your return. Plus, once you link your social insurance number (SIN), it has an auto-fill option. This becomes even more beneficial for your second return since it can import all relevant data from the year before.
WealthSimple Tax can also auto-fill your cryptocurrency gains or losses from over 300 exchanges and digital wallets.
Finally, you can receive free support should you run into any issues, whether it’s through email, online chat or by phone. And your maximum refund is guaranteed, with the only payment being an optional donation.
Pros: WealthSimple Tax is a great tool for Canadians with a simple tax file, and are looking to file themselves at the cheapest rate, while still maintaining safety and security.
Cons: The software is pretty basic, so if you end up needing a more complicated filing system, you may have to transfer to another program. Especially as you don’t receive the same support or extra add-ons found with other tax software.
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- Free to $34.99
- Free for users 25 and under
- Add-ons charged separately
- Those with a clear tax return, but want an option to add more assistance.
H&R Block offers three programs for Canadians to consider, each with more and more assistance. The free plan is similar to WealthSimple Tax, in that you can auto-fill from past years, with the software guiding you through the process.
From there, Canadians can choose the Assistance program, where it becomes a bit more customized. You can ask for tech support at any time, and the SmartReview feature allows you to see exactly how the software calculated your return.
Then there’s the Premier option, which is especially beneficial if you get audited.
H&R Block also offers personalized help from a tax expert, starting at $39.99. This option can be used whether you have a few questions or need someone to go over your return with you.
Plus, not only do you get a maximum refund guarantee, there is also an accuracy guarantee. H&R Block will reimburse you for any errors made if you get charged by CRA. Finally, if things really get complicated, you always have the option to go to one of the many in-person locations.
Pros: The combination of multiple support options (phone, chat, email) and different tiers allows users more flexibility. The ability to consult a program expert, while priced, can also be very useful for filing.
Cons: While there are some add-ons for extra help, there aren’t as many as some other software programs out there. It seems that if you’re going to choose an option, it’s really going to come down to the Free or Premier version, as the Assistance doesn’t offer much more.
- Free to $149.99 (until April 17, 2023)
- Under 25 is free for any option
- Those with simple tax returns, or those willing to pay more for help.
TurboTax is perhaps the best known of the tax software programs out there. And it’s clear why. The company has been around since 1990, growing in use so that more than five million Canadians now use the filing software.
The program takes you through a step-by-step filing process, which includes auto-fill by connecting to the CRA site. As you fill it out, you’ll see a preview of what your refund might be. And should it get it wrong, it too offers a maximum refund guarantee.
For those really wanting to file on their own, there are multiple levels that Canadians can use depending on their needs. For simple returns, the free option is best, which still provides information on credits, deductions, COVID-19 related items, and Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions.
Those who had more donations or expenses may want to opt for the $20.99 Deluxe option. If you have investments such as stocks or income properties, Premier may be right for you. You can also pay for assistance as well.
Then there is an entire space dedicated to self-employed individuals, ranging from $49.99 for basic deductions, to someone doing your taxes for you for $69.99 to $149.99 (depending on complexity).
Pros: TurboTax is probably the most user-friendly option out there, providing you with the free option first, with the ability to pay for more only when you file. It’s safe and secure as with the other programs, and allows you to do everything from completely filing yourself, to having an accountant take it on for you.
Cons: If you want more, you need to pay more. That includes any assistance or review process you’ll want. While prices are similar to competitors, you get less support than other tax software programs through the free option.
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- Free to $34.99 to start
- New filers
- Canadians making under $20,000
UFile is another tax software program that’s been around for decades, moving to an online or downloadable software program depending on your needs. It is worth noting that while the free option isn’t free for everyone, it is if you have a straight forward tax return to file.
Those eligible for the free version include post-secondary students, first-time filers or Canadians, households under $20,000, or those with income only from T4 slips. From there, Canadians have the option for UFile Online, or UFile Download. Online is $19.99, with tax storage up to 10 years, and online support at any time. The Download option allows you to hold onto your return details rather than depending on their Cloud system, starting at $22.99.
However, there are certainly drawbacks. While it has many of the same auto-fill and file options, it doesn’t come with the reimbursement guarantee offered by others.
Pros: You still get the security knowing your taxes are secure and filed safely. There are plenty of options for new or simple tax returns, and if you prefer holding onto your returns the Download option might be for you.
Cons: If you’re an investor, business owner, self-employed individual or other even minorly difficult return to file, UFile is going to make you pay for those extras. And frankly, it doesn’t have the extras found by other — potentially cheaper — software. UFile also does not charge a family rate, like some of the other services. Filing will cost $14 extra for a partner, and an extra $8 for every other dependent.
- Free (with donation option)
- Those needing to file multiple returns, have simple filing needs.
Finally, we have GenuTax. While it might not be as well known as some of the other programs here, it has many of the benefits we’ve already seen. Like WealthSimple Tax, it’s completely free, with an option to donate.
While it may not have the bells and whistles of some of the other programs, GenuTax offers a simple interview process to help fill out your form to ensure you get every credit and deduction. Further, you can then go on to file up to 20 different individuals for each tax year, with no income limitations. Then, you can go back and also file past returns you may have missed with the auto-fill option.
GenuTax can also handle most tax situations, but is not afraid to admit its limitations. The site recommends finding other software for certain situations, such as holding foreign property. The biggest downside is that Quebec residents can only file federally, instead of provincially.
Pros: It’s completely free, offering much of the same basic needs found by other tax programs. This is especially beneficial for those filing past years, or for family members.
Cons: You get what you pay for in some ways, since the company only offers email support, which can take up to 48 hours to respond. Plus, if you’re filing in Québec, this likely isn’t the program for you.
When it comes to your taxes, you want to get it right the first time. It does seem that the best options out there aren’t necessarily the free ones, unless you have a fairly simple return.
However, if you’re a first-time filer, realize that your situation will change. In the years to come, your taxes may become more complicated. That could mean either paying far more, or moving services.
In any case, these five tax options will certainly get the job done. What it all comes down to are your needs at tax time, and how much help you want (or need) along the way.
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