It’s that season of the year when you are required to file your tax return – aka tax season!
Whether you are looking forward to tax time or not may depend on if you expect to get a refund or, if you will be owing the government money. (Hint: Those expecting a significant tax refund are often ecstatic when tax season comes around). 🙂
Tax filing via electronic channels has become more simplified in the last few years, especially with recent integration opportunities available through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and increasing sophistication of online tax software.
Depending on your circumstances this year, you may be able to file your returns yourself using a paid tax software, free of charge at a tax preparation clinic, or may choose to hire an accountant.
For those intending to use the DIY option, this is where TurboTax comes into play!
TurboTax is considered to be Canada’s #1 best-selling and most popular income tax software, and has been used by millions of Canadians for over 20 years. The TurboTax software is owned and marketed by Intuit Canada.
Why Use TurboTax?
If you are wondering about your choice of a tax software for processing your tax return this year, here are some reasons to consider choosing TurboTax:
1. Guaranteed Maximum Refund and Accuracy
Individuals who prepare their own tax returns often fear that they may be missing out on eligible deductions and tax credits, and ultimately, may be cheating themselves out of refunds.
Not surprising, as nobody wants to give the government more of their hard-earned money if they don’t have to!
TurboTax guarantees that when you use their tax software, you’ll get the maximum refund possible. They also guarantee a 100% accuracy that there will be no errors.
If there are any errors due to using their software and they lead to CRA penalties, TurboTax will reimburse the penalty plus interest.
The availability of multiple forms of support is one area that makes TurboTax stand out. Support available to tax filers include:
- An online community where you can ask and receive answers from experts and other customers.
- Phone support
- Video tutorials
- TurboTax SmartlookTM: an online, on-demand service that connects Canadian tax filers to live, personalized tax advice from qualified tax experts.
While the level of support you can access is somewhat dependent on the edition of TurboTax you are using (or purchase), there is always some level of support available, even for the free version!
About 50% of Canadians do not feel comfortable filing their own taxes. A couple years ago, I was not either. Have you looked at those paper tax forms recently? If you are not an accountant or used to figuring out numbers, manually filing a complicated tax return is simply not your idea of an entertaining evening or weekend.
The TurboTax software (link for 20% discount) makes this tax filing a breeze – it takes you through the process step-by-step, showing you only what’s required for your own specific income, benefits, and tax situation.
4. NETFILE Certified
NETFILE is the electronic tax-filing service that allows you to send your tax return directly to the CRA through the internet. TurboTax is one of the tax software products certified by the CRA to use the NETFILE system.
By submitting your return directly, you are able to get your refund much faster – in my case, I received it in 10 days. You also get immediate confirmation that your tax return was transmitted successfully. Filing via a paper return means you have to wait up to 8 weeks for your refund.
5. CRA Auto-Fill my return
Individuals with a CRA My Account can connect their TurboTax account to CRA to automatically populate their tax information already on file. TurboTax makes the auto-fill my return very easy to accomplish, potentially saving you lots of time.
Related: How To open a CRA MyAccount
6. Support for Multiple Platforms and Devices
TurboTax is available via the internet (web-based) and can also be downloaded and installed on your personal computer. Both online and download options offer varying levels of benefits and features depending on the version you choose.
So, you can choose to download and install on your Windows or Mac PC, or if you prefer, choose one of the many online versions and access it on the web anywhere using your PC, tablet or phone.
7. TurboTax Free
There are online and download versions of TurboTax that you can access free of charge.
With TurboTax Free, you can still use the Auto-Fill my return through CRA, ask questions on AnswerXChange, and expect 100% accuracy. However, you will not have access to some premium features including the ability to transfer your previous tax information and store your return online. It may also not be suitable for more complicated tax situations.
Not surprising, the security employed by TurboTax is top-notch. They use multi-factor authentication and data encryption to ensure that your private data is kept safe.
9. Other Resources
There is an abundance of other resources on the TurboTax website, including a blog, income tax and refund calculators for all provinces and territories, an expense claim calculator for self-employed individuals, tax tips, and more. These are all freely accessible.
Choosing Your TurboTax
Generally speaking, you have an option between the online (web-based) and the PC-installed versions. There are multiple tiers of features available depending on what you choose/pay for. As the features/benefits increase, so does the cost.
If you are filing a single return and your tax situation is relatively simple, the free or Standard online version (20% discount) is probably all you need.
For multiple returns (4 or less) and an uncomplicated tax situation, a Basic PC download version (20% discount link) gives you the best bang for your money.
The Premier version (20% discount link) is targeted at those looking for additional guidance on investment income and expenses, or who have a rental property they have to account for.
If you are filing more complicated returns including those with freelance income/home-based business, you can take a look at their Self-Employed package (20% discount link).
For those who would rather have someone else take care of their tax filing, the TurboTax Assist & Review or Full Service may be worth looking at.
2018 Tax Filing Updates – Canada
- For the 2017 tax year, the tax season was officially opened on February 26, 2018, meaning that the CRA began processing income tax and benefit returns filed by Canadians starting on that day.
- The deadline date for most tax filers is April 30, 2018. If you are self-employed, you get an extension till June 15, 2018.
- For 2018, the CRA is mailing tax forms and guides directly to individuals who filed paper returns in 2017.
- A new Express Notice of Assessment (NOA) service allows tax filers to view their electronic NOA immediately after sending their return.
- If eligible, you can get free help with your tax filing. The Community Volunteer Income Tax program involves tax preparation clinics where volunteers assist individuals with modest incomes and simple tax situations to file their returns.
- A new CRA File My Return service is available to individuals with low or fixed incomes that do not change from year to year. Eligible individuals can file their income and benefit returns through an automated phone service. For more information about this free service, call CRA at 1-800-959-8281.
- In addition to TurboTax Free, there are some other “free” tax software available including via Simple Tax, H&R Block Tax, StudioTax, GenuTax Standard, and AdvTax. Always read the fine print to identify any limitations tied to free tax service, if applicable.
- You can pay any taxes owing to the government in cash or by using a debit card at any Canada Post outlet. You will need to first generate a quick response (QR) code.
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