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6 Reviews: the Best DIY Tax Software

Feb. 26, 2013
4 mins
A close-up of an older person typing on the computer

How did Canadians ever do their taxes without technology? Today, we have a myriad of desktop and mobile applications to choose from that make calculating and filing taxes faster, less stressful and more accurate.

But before you sign on with a tax software filing program, make sure the Canada Revenue Agency approves of the program. Click here to find the list of currently approved filing services. Here’s an overview of some of the tax programs out there you might like to try:

  • TurboTax. This desktop application comes in a number of versions — pick the one that suits your situation. The basic version is just $20 and lets regular folks with just T4s and charitable donation receipts to calculate and file their taxes. That goes all the way up to the $200 version for filing corporate tax returns. The company runs a tax blog and has a customer service number. This is ideal for math-minded folks who truly want to do their own taxes, even if they are complex. In fact, the company has so many versions of its software, chances are your complex needs can be met by one of its specialized editions.
  • Ufile This Canadian-made program is the go-to for anyone with a simple tax return who just wants to get it done. The online versions (which charges you $16 per return) is very easy and links you up with Revenue Canada to upload your return. You can also get a desktop software version ($20) or a pro version ($100) for doing multiple or more complex returns, plus you get extra features like free customer service with the top-end version.
  • TaxTron The selling point here is speed: TaxTron says you can do your return in just 10 minutes. Also, if you’re low income or a student, you can print off or electronically file your return for free. For the rest, the fee to finalize your return is $20. Another perk is the company now caters to Mac users (often a sticking point in tax return programs). If you’re unsure if the program will work for you, you can use the version for individuals and just pay when you return: you can either use your return as a test run, or pay for it and file.

Got a smartphone? There’s a growing number of apps that let you do a range of tax-time functions:

  • SnapTax From the makers of one of the country’s most popular tax programs, SnapTax lets you take a picture of your T4 and file it directly to Revenue Canada. It’s all about eliminating paper and making it less of a big deal of you losing those little slips of paper over time.
  • Tax Receipts Shoebox For three bucks, this popular BlackBerry app that lets you shoot images of your receipts and organize them. The app is geared for those who keep track of expenses and billable hours and lets you organize such information together.
  • Go! Tax Canada This very clever little app does a big job: it will take you through your entire tax return. You use the camera function to send in images of your T4s and other documents, and simply enter in your information and numbers to complete your entire form on a iPhone or iPod Touch. The app is free and will do most straightforward returns: you pay on average of $25 when you submit.

Safety steps for filing online

Whenever you start entering your personal information online (such as your social insurance number), be sure that the site you are using is secure and reliable. Do a check to be sure there are no fraud concerns about the site and of course be sure the Canadian government recognizes the tax return you’ll be filing!

And if your taxes frustrate you, are very complex or the tax programs you are using don’t seem to meet your needs, always turn to a tax professional instead. There are costs involved in all online and in-person services when it comes to taxes, but this is a situation where spending money often saves you money.

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