7 Best Free Tax Return Software For Canadians (2022)

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

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Filing your taxes online has never been easier with the many tax software available to Canadians. Not only that but these days you can also complete your online tax return for free or very cheap.

Basically, unless your tax situation is complicated or you run a sizeable business, you can safely say “adieu” to your accountant and not lose out on any tax deductions or credits.

For the 2021 tax filing season, 91.2% of Canadians filed an electronic income tax and benefit return, with 58.1% using EFILE, 32.9% using NETFILE, and 0.2% using the File My Return Service.

The tax return filing deadline for the 2021 tax year is May 2, 2022. Self-employed individuals and sole proprietors have until June 15, 2022, to file their income tax and benefit returns.

How To File Your Taxes Online in Canada

There are two main ways to file your taxes online in Canada i.e. using NETFILE or EFILE.

NETFILE is an online transmission service provided by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for individual filers to send in their tax returns without needing paper tax forms.

In order to prepare your online tax return using NETFILE, you must use a CRA-certified tax preparation software such as TurboTax and several others.

Tax return submissions through NETFILE go directly to the CRA in a secure format.

EFILE is an electronic submission service used by tax preparers to transmit your income tax return information to the CRA.

If you are not comfortable with using NETFILE or have a complicated tax return and require professional help, an accountant or tax preparation firm can use EFILE to file your tax return for a fee.

Starting in 2018, CRA now offers a “File My Return” service that lower-income Canadians can use to file their income tax and benefit return for free.

Individuals who qualify for this service receive an invitation letter in February with instructions on how to proceed. For questions relating to using File My Return, call CRA at 1-800-959-8281.

Free Tax Software for Canadians

Free Tax Software in Canada

Here are some of the tax software certified by the CRA for NETFILE tax return submissions. They all offer free options to file your taxes and some have paid versions as well.

Typically, the free version can handle most tax situations. However, the software provider may have restrictions based on your income level and there may be limited to no phone or email support available.

My general advice is that if you are in doubt, start with the free version and only upgrade if required.

1. Wealthsimple Tax (SimpleTax)

WealthsimpleTax (formerly SimpleTax) is a free Canadian software for filing your income tax return. It also recently introduced free crypto tax filing, a first of its kind in Canada.

SimpleTax was founded in 2012 and was recently acquired by the popular robo-advisor, Wealthsimple. It is certified by the CRA and Revenu Quebec to use NETFILE.

Unlike the limited offerings available through many free tax software, you can use Wealthsimple Tax to file any kind of return that is not exempted by NETFILE.

This includes reporting self-employment income, rental income, donations, investment income, medical expenses, and more.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect:

  • Easy-to-use online tax software.
  • Step-by-step guidance and a 100% accuracy guarantee. If you have to pay penalties or interest as a result of any error in calculation by the software, it will be covered by Wealthsimple.
  • Maximum refund using their refund optimizer and get your refund in as little as 8 days via direct deposit.
  • Encryption to secure your private information.
  • CRA-certified with Auto-fill My Return compatibility.
  • Submit multiple returns per account.
  • Access to customer support via phone and email 7 days a week.
  • Available in all provinces and territories, including Quebec.
  • Several tax calculators you can use for TFSA, RRSP, tax, and retirement scenarios.
  • Available on multiple devices.
  • Best free income tax software in Canada.

If you traded crypto in 2021, Wealthsimple Tax can help you calculate any capital gains or losses and include this in your tax filing.

This software syncs with all the major cryptocurrency exchanges including Wealthsimple Crypto, Bitbuy, NDAX, Shakepay, and 300+ others.

After submitting your return, there’s a prompt to make a small donation if you want. That said, you are not obligated to do so.

There’s also an option to upgrade to a Premium account if you would like to get CRA audit support. This service is optional.

You can learn more about the platform in this WealthsimpleTax review.

File your taxes with Wealthsimple Tax.

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2. TurboTax Canada Free

TurboTax is one of the most popular online tax return software in Canada.

While TurboTax offers free, standard, premium, and self-employed versions of their software, the free version covers the basics and works well for simple tax returns.

You can use TurboTax on any device including smartphones.

Here’s what you get with the free TurboTax software:

  • NETFILE-certified.
  • Up to 20 free returns per year.
  • Auto-fill My Return compatibility which imports your tax information directly from the CRA.
  • Maximum refund guarantee.
  • 100% accuracy guarantee or they will repay any penalties caused by a TurboTax calculation.
  • Instant access to your notice of assessment after submitting your return using NETFILE.
  • They offer REFILE if you need to make adjustments to your return.
  • TLS encryption to secure your personal information.
  • It is available in Quebec.

The free version does not offer phone support with one of their tax specialists, however, you can find answers to your question using their free online community.

Also, you should note that TurboTax Free does not support some credits, income, and deductions such as self-employment income/expenses, donations, investment income, rental income, etc.

If you need to use a paid version of TurboTax (e.g. Standard service for $19.99), you can get a 15% discount.

Read our complete TurboTax review.

turbotax canada

3. H&R Block Free

H&R Block has been offering tax services to Canadians for more than 55 years. It has 1,000+ offices where you can go to obtain tax services in-person or drop off your documents, as well as robust online tax software for do-it-yourself filers.

There are three main options for filing your 2021 tax return online with H&R Block: Free ($0), Assistance ($19.99 per return), and Protection ($44.99 per return).

Here’s what you get with the free service:

  • NETFILE-certified.
  • Automatic refund maximization.
  • Easy-to-use platform.
  • Access to an online help centre.
  • Auto-fill My Return downloads some of your tax slips directly from the CRA and Revenu Quebec.

If you want some assistance and support to complete your tax return, the Assistance product offers unlimited tech support and the ability to transfer last year’s tax details.

Alternatively, if you want audit protection, priority support, and the ability to store your return online for 7 years, the Protection service works great.

You can save 15% off the regular prices if you choose to upgrade.

4. CloudTax

If you are looking to complete a simple non-business tax return, you can do so using CloudTax.

CloudTax was founded by Nimalan Balachandran and the tax software is certified by the Canada Revenue Agency.

They offer a free service (CloudTax Free) and paid services (CloudTax Plus and CloudTax Pro).

For the free service, you get:

  • Auto-fill My Return.
  • The ability to access the platform via the web and mobile (iOS and Android).
  • Encryption to secure your data.
  • Online tax return storage.
  • Optional audit protection for $2.99/month.
  • Access expert help at $29.99 per return.

CloudTax is currently not available to residents of Quebec, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. CloudTax Pro starts at $29.99 per return.

5. uFile Free

uFile is an income tax return software you can directly access online using a Windows or Mac computer, tablet, and smartphone. They also have a Windows version that requires you to download and install the program on your computer.

uFile is available free of charge to students regardless of their income. This free service is offered through its partnership with the Canadian Federation of Students.

The tax software is also available for free if you are:

  • Filing a simple tax return i.e. you are reporting only one employment income or pension income (OAS or CPP).
  • A newcomer fo Canada and are filing your first federal tax return.
  • A low-income taxpayer with a total family income that is less than $20,000.

The paid uFile tax service starts at $19.95.

Similar to the other tax software on this list, uFile also offers:

  • ReFILE
  • Guaranteed Accuracy and tax results
  • Security

It is NETFILE-certified and is available in Quebec.

6. GenuTax

GenuTax is a NETFILE-certified tax software that is only available as an installation file on Windows computers.

It is free to use and handles most tax scenarios. They request a voluntary donation to support the company.

Limited customer service is available through email and you can prepare up to 20 tax returns every year.

7. AdvTax

AdvTax is provided by Aclasssoft Inc. The tax return software is available using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The program supports multiple languages including English, French, and Chinese.

It is also:

  • Free
  • NETFILE-certified
  • Easy-to-use. As per their website, it should take you about 5 minutes to complete your tax return.

StudioTax

StudioTax is a tax program that is available on Windows and Mac. It is no longer free and now costs $15 for a license.

After installing the program on your computer, you can file your taxes using NETFILE. It supports the Auto-fill My Return feature and Express Notice of Assessment.

StudioTax is not available on smartphones or tablets.

Some of the highlights of StudioTax are :

  • It does not need to connect to the internet to perform its main functions – your name, email, online account, or credit card details are not required.
  • It is NETFILE-certified.
  • It allows for both simple and complex returns.
  • Up to 20 returns per year.
  • No income restrictions.
  • Available in Quebec. 

Filing Your Canadian Tax Return Online

A majority of Canadians can generally file their tax returns electronically. Some instances where a NETFILE submission is restricted are if you:

  • Are filing a tax return for a taxation year before 2017
  • Are a non-resident of Canada and/or your address is outside of Canada
  • Became bankrupt within the two years before your tax filing
  • Are filing a tax return for a deceased person
  • Need to change your name
  • Are filing an amended return
  • Your social insurance number begins with a zero (except for newcomers)

You can check out other NETFILE restrictions.

Related Posts:

Benefits of Filing Your Taxes Online Using a Tax Software

The benefits of filing your taxes online as opposed to completing the paper forms and mailing them to CRA are:

A. Faster Refunds: Electronic submissions result in faster refunds…often in as few as 8 business days.

B. User-friendly: Online tax software are generally user-friendly and they guide you through the process so you don’t need to be a tax expert to file your own return. They also keep your previous tax returns on file for several years, making it easy to retrieve them if needed.

C. Cheaper: Compared to the cost of an accountant helping you out, online tax software can be much cheaper. And you can even file your taxes online for free.

D. Improved Accuracy: NETFILE-certified tax software can use the Auto-fill My Return service which automatically fills part of your tax return. Combine this with the “accuracy guarantee” and automatic calculations provided by the software, and your chances of submitting an accurate return increase.

If you plan to file your taxes electronically, ensure that the tax software is:

  • Certified by the CRA
  • Has adequate security in place to protect your personal information
  • Easy to use and compatible with your devices
  • Affordable or free

For the 2022 tax-filing season (2021 income tax year), we recommend going with Wealthsimple Tax (best online tax software). You can also opt for TurboTax Free or H&R Block.

7 Best Free Tax Return Software For Canadians (2022)

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

28 thoughts on “7 Best Free Tax Return Software For Canadians (2022)”

  1. Have used Studio Tax for years!

  2. Another great tax package is Tax Freeway. One of the best for value and also I find it so easy to use.

  3. I have used Studiotax since 2013 as it never makes a mistake.

  4. TurboTax is a user-friendly Canadian tax software program that lets you prepare your File taxes online easily and quickly.

  5. turbo tax I use all the different software and every year turbo tax gives me the highest refund

  6. StudioTax now has Ios and Android versions for mobile devices (your review above states otherwise).

  7. Have been using Genutax for many years, and I am very happy with this program.
    It’s an “offline” (installed) software, so I don’t expose my private information to anybody.

    • I tried GenuTax and thought it was very good.
      I also tried StudioTax, but found GenuTax to be more user friendly and pleasant to use.
      Surprised it isn’t talk about more often (considering it’s free).

    • I have been using GenuTax since 2003 when it was a onetime fee of $32 now it’s free. I love it and recommend it to everyone. I’ve done many individual and joint tax returns as well as final returns for deceased individuals all without difficulty. Northern living benefits and capital gains are simple. When you start a new year, your personal information is brought forward form the previous year, a big time saver. If you are setup with revenue Canada the software can auto load your information slips, great feature.
      I can not comment on their support as I have never needed it.
      I recommend GenuTax without reservation.

  8. I’m in a fix. I’ve never filed my own taxes. Ever. Always had an accountant do it. 2019 hasn’t been filed yet. I’m self employed freelancer. But I suddenly found out that my accountant passed away last month.. Now am in a lurch as I want to apply for the CERB but am told that I have to file my 2019 taxes first. Any suggestion as to how to go about it and which software service to use?

    • You have a few options. TurboTax is very, very easy to use, and I would recommend it. If you do not want to pay for it, there’s the online version, which might not be ideal if you prefer to keep your personal data as safe as possible (they’re not immune to hackers, after all). I’ve been looking around and StudioTax seems to be the best offline free software. I’m trying that one this year.
      As for your freelancer situation, I cannot help you with that, since I work full-time.

      Hope that helps!

    • I will try to answer your questions and file your tax.
      But we need to talk about this first, if interested. My phone # 416 834 4145, Sunny.

    • I have used both Ufile and Studio Tax software and found that they both do a great job. However, I found Ufile to be more user friendly. Best of luck. Stay safe.

  9. I used StudioTax, I was asked to use my account for auto file but I did not succeeded. Some can tell what mistake I may have made?

    • for my account setup on cra online , some information is not matching – try again

  10. If you’re thinking about using AdvTax, I’d think again. I’ve used it for years, and have recently learned that it has consistently miscalculated my RRSP contribution room. Year after year, I missed the opportunity to make the full RRSP contribution I was entitled to, and subsequently paid thousands more in taxes than I should have. There’s no way to recover any of that loss.

  11. StudioTax is no longer free as of the 2020 tax year. They’ve moved to a paid model starting this year.

    • @Terry: Thanks for letting me know!

  12. However, the paid model for StudioTax only applies if your gross income is over $20,000.
    Under that and its still free. I’m a senior on a fixed, so I clear that and still use STx.

  13. As of Feb 7th, 2021, StudioTax 2020 does not have CRA certification to allow for NETFILE.

    • I just checked StudioTax’s website (Feb. 20, 2021) and it says:

      StudioTax 2020 is now certified by both CRA and Revenue Quebec. The certified update will be available late Sunday and before the start of filing on Monday morning. CRA and Revenue Quebec start accepting 2020 returns Monday Feb 22.

  14. Great list. Moving from Studiotax to some other free software. I don’t like people suddenly pulling the carpet from underneath you.

  15. I am a senior,79 with memory impairment, have a basic tax return and low income never having to pay any tax the last 4 years as my non refundable tax credits exceed any tax payable. Due to mail delays and not being puter literate, with foggy mind cannot do my return online. CRA does not allow non residents to file online.

    My hands are tied, no access to fax due to covid lockdown, no paper return which I am used to as mail is not arriving, OAS and CPP holding back funds which I need badly. I need help please! Any way a non resident can get taxes in to CRA in time due to missing deadline?

    Any/all suggestions would be appreciated. Have tried phoning but waiting times too long. T Y Michael

  16. To; Michael James;
    I really feel for your situation, I’m 69 years old and have been a resident all my life and am now having issues choosing which software to use, For the last several years I have used the free version of turbo tax and have been quite happy. Unfortunately this year I have a small amount I have to claim, under self-employed and now everything has changed, I apparently have to use different software because of the self-employed money and I am having trouble finding one that I can afford, the only one that looks like it will do the job for sure is the one strictly for self-employed and I’m not sure if it will do the rest of my income. I had wanted to stay with turbo tax because of my past stuff is all with them but I don’t know if I can, I am also missing over half my OAS and CPP cheques and am unable to even pay my rent – I really do understand where you’re at but don’t feel alone – you’re not being picked because you are not a resident yet. As soon as I reached 65 it felt like I became a target for the group of beaurocrats assigned with seeing how much more difficult they could make it for seniors than it already is, it seems like there is always some kind of assistance that we can’t access any more because we turned 65 and apparently we magically don’t need the assistance we needed the day before our birthday- and god help you if your disabled because in that case, you present a much bigger target. I’ve bitched enough and I wish you nothing but the best with your battle and I hope things go your way soon. Good Luck, Steve Lane

  17. Just a warning to Turbo Tax Free users — If you have investment income you can no longer use Turbo Tax Free. It is only for the most simple returns.

  18. Thank you for writing this article, Enoch!

    • My pleasure, Winston!

  19. Thank you for all the information and opinions. Certainly makes me feel I can do this!

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