6 Best Tax Return Software In Canada: In-Depth Comparison & Verdict (2019)

Are you looking for the best tax return software to file your Canadian taxes? I’ve got you covered. 

Filing your taxes online can feel a bit over-whelming, but it doesn’t have to be so.

Today there’s a variety of free tax return software to choose from, and it’s never been less easier to file your taxes on your own.

In 2016, 87% of Canadians filed their tax returns online.

So if you’re ready to join the group who file their own taxes, we’ve got you covered with today’s review of the top six online tax return software programs in Canada.

When and How Soon Will I get my Tax Refund?

The average processing time for a tax return refund filed online is two weeks.

If you’ve signed up for the bank direct deposit, you may have your refund in your bank account in as little as eight days.

If you’re expecting a refund cheque, it can take up to four to six weeks.

For more information, see the CRA’s website

tax return

List of 6 Best Tax Return Software’s in Canada 

Before we dive into the details of each online tax return software, let’s talk about what to look for when choosing the best tax return software in Canada.

There are the five important components to consider before we choose the best tax return software – 

1. CRA Certified or not

2. Cost Associated To File Taxes

3. Security Features

4. Additional Features of the Software  

5. Add-ons to the Software

CRA Certified or Not 

The most important feature of any tax return software is that it is NETFILE enabled and certified by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

In simple terms, NETFILE certified means that the software allows you to submit your income tax return directly from the tax return software website to the CRA online.

As of today, there are 11 online products and 13 desktop products certified by the CRA in Canada.

In case your tax return software is not CRA certified, you’ll have to print your tax forms and mail CRA; doing so will delay the refund you’ll get. 

Cost Associated to File taxes – Per Tax Return 

Some of the online tax return software’s are completely free, while others offer varying price levels.

The one’s with a price tag usually include a free version for students and low-income earners.

There’s a Mid range version for simple tax returns (individuals), and a more expensive version for those who need additional functionality. Most probably small business owners. 

While the basic three tiers exist for most of the tax return software we are going to review, the price range will vary across considerably.

Security Features of the Online Software

Let’s talk about the Tax return software’s security features in this section. 

Online tax return software handles your sensitive personal information like social insurance number.

With that said, it’s important for you to make sure their security details are up-to date.

You’ll need to do your research on this topic, since the CRA does not verify the security of the websites it certifies. I would do that at-least

If you aren’t sure, choose a familiar brand name like Turbo Tax or Simple Tax returns. We’ll discuss that going forward. 

Additional Tax return Software Features

While all the online tax return software’s will allow you to file your income tax return online, some have additional features that’ll streamline the filing process.

Some of these features such as auto-importing information from the CRA, reduces the time it takes to file your online taxes.

Other features make your tax return more straightforward, such as offering an express notice of assessment and storing your returns for future use. 

Other Software Add-ons

While a couple of online tax return software’s sell extra add ons like having your tax return reviewed by a tax professional, audit protection, and the last will and testament planning.

These add-ons off-course will come at an additional cost, and you can choose them at the end of the tax return filing process.

Now that we’ve outlined the five important factors to consider when choosing the best tax return software in Canada, here are the six of the most popular choices – 

1. TurboTax

Is the software CRA Certified: Yes

Cost per return : $0.00 – $59.99

Software Security Encrypted : Yes – TLS

Software Features: Auto-fill return, express notice of assessment, importing information from previous tax returns

Additional Software Add ons: Expert review, audit protection

TurboTax is an online tax software from the parent company Intuit and is a big player in the tax return field.

This tax return software offers free tax returns for students and several tiers of paid returns ranging from moderately priced straight-forward returns to $59.99 for self-employed individuals.

TurboTax uses TLS encryption, a commonly used security encryption in North America.

Here’s a quick TurboTax Step-By-Step Video explaining everything you’ll need to know about your tax return:

TurboTax definitely has all of the best features you would expect. 

You can also expect Turbo Tax to auto fill your returns with information from the CRA and import information from previous tax returns if you’ve used their software to file tax returns before and get the notice of assessment for the return filed. 

Also, note that TurboTax is Canada’s #1 Tax Software and is being used my millions of Canadian’s every year to file their tax returns. 

You can also opt to have your return reviewed by a professional accountant and protect yourself with their audit protection package.

2. SimpleTax

Is the software CRA Certified: Yes

Cost per return: $0

Software Security Encrypted: Yes

Software Features: Smart search, auto-fill return, refund optimizer, express notice of assessment, refile

Additional Software Add ons: No

tax return

SimpleTax is the first tax return software in this list which is completely free. 

SimpleTax is based in Vancouver, BC, with a team from across the country. They started with a few simple questions. Why is preparing a tax return so complicated? Why is tax software so slow and expensive? Why do so many people turn to tax preparers, even for simple returns?

Check out this link for feature Comparison between SimpleTax, TurboTax, H&R Block and UFile

Yes, you got it right. SimpleTax is 100% free tax return software that is packed with features delivered through a simple, user friendly interface.

Of the free software’s reviewed today, SimpleTax offers the most features for free, including auto filling your return, express notice of assessment, and refiling, which lets you make adjustments to your return after you file.

Here’s a quick helpful video to get started with SimpleTax tax return software – 

SimpleTax also has a smart search and tutorial mode, which helps you determine which forms apply to your tax situation.

If you have a straightforward return and are looking for a free online tax software with plenty of features but no up-sells, SimpleTax is an excellent choice.

3. StudioTax

Is the software CRA Certified: StudioTax is certified by both CRA and Revenue Quebec.

Cost per return: $0

Software Security Encrypted: No – native program, not online

Software Features: No

Additional Software Add ons: No

tax return

If you’re looking for a free tax return software that won’t up sell you, StudioTax is for you.

StudioTax is 100% free to use.

There are no premium services, so whether you have a simple or complicated tax software, the fee is the same and its free.

StudioTax Software

StudioTax is the most secure option to prepare and file your return. StudioTax is a Windows/Mac installable program and NOT an online application.

Unlike online applications where you have to trust a private third party for the security of your valuable personal information, StudioTax gives you full control over your security.

StudioTax installs on your computer’s local hard drive, saves your returns on your computer’s local hard drive, and absolutely NO information, personal or otherwise, leaves your computer.

StudioTax is made available for individuals who prepare their own tax returns or returns for a small number of relatives and friends free of charge.

The free software is downloadable, so you don’t have to worry about storing your sensitive information on a third-party server.

Instead, it lives only on your computer. Since this is a free program, there aren’t many features or add-ons offered, although you can import previous tax years information if you have used StudioTax before.

Their business model is similar to that of a street performer. You can use and enjoy the software and later decide if the experience was worth it and you can afford a donation

4. H&R Block

Is the software CRA Certified: Yes

Cost per return: $9.99 – $24.99

Software Security Encrypted : Yes, TLS

Software Features: Auto-fill return, past return import, express notice of assessment, year over year return comparison, maximum refund guarantee

Software Add ons: Expert review, audit protection, last will and testament

Over the last 50 years, H&R Block’s growth in Canada has been tremendous.

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, they serve taxpayers in more than 1,100 offices across the country.

They do have a dedicated team of Tax Experts using the latest in electronic processing and filing technology to prepare all types of returns, including personal, small business, corporate, farm, trucker, fishing, U.S., rental and estate.

With offices located across North America and in 13 foreign countries, they’re able to prepare tax returns for all Canadians no matter where they are.

H&R Block – Canadian Tax Return 

H&R Block is relatively new entry to the online tax return software game, although they’ve been the traditional face of brick and mortar income tax return filing for decades.

The H&R Block software has all of the standard features you expect in an online tax return software including auto-filling your return, past return importing and express notice of assessment.

Video Comparing H&R Block Vs TurboTax – 2019

H&R Block does have a free software option for students regardless of income, and their most expensive tiered software for entrepreneurs is still affordable at just $24.99.

H&R Block guarantees they’ll find you the biggest return, and if you find another online tax return software that results in a larger refund, they’ll reimburse you for the purchase price of the other software.

H&R Block hasn’t left behind the brick and mortar version of their tax filing strategy: for a fee you can have a tax professional review your return, and they also offer discounted last will and testament preparation in partnership with legalwills.ca.

5. GenuTax

This Canadian tax software program has two things going for it that really appeal to me. The first is that GenuTax is free and that includes future annual updates.

As the tax return services are free to the consumers, the only thing they ask users to pay by modest donation.

The second is that you can prepare and file up to 20 tax returns for the current tax year and the past tax year. (Some other tax preparation software programs designed for public use allow you to do fewer returns.) As is common, you work through an interview process to complete your tax return.

The downside? You can’t use this tax software if you live in Quebec or for preparing corporate tax returns.

A separate tax planning software, GenuTax Planner, is also available.

6. UFile

Is the Software CRA Certified: Yes

Cost per Software return filed: $0 – $19.99

Is the Software Security Encrypted: Yes, bank level

Software Features: Auto-fill return, past return imports, auto pension splitting, refile

Additional Software Add ons: No

If the premium versions of online tax software are too high-pressure for you, but you’d like a little more polish and functionality than the free tax software we’ve discussed.

UFile Online is absolutely free if you are reporting only employment income (one single T4) or income from a Canadian Government pension (OAS or CPP/QPP).

You must also be entitled only to standard non-refundable tax credits, and have no other deductions or credits such as RRSPs, charitable donations or medical expenses.

Over a million Canadians put their trust in UFile products every year. UFile is an excellent middle ground.

UFile offers free tax returns for students, low-income individuals, and first-time filers. The maximum fee for UFile is $19.99 per person, making this an economical option even if you don’t qualify for the free tier.

tax return

UFile does not up sell customers with add ons like other online tax software’s, so if you don’t want to take advantage of add ons like audit protection or professional reviews, UFile is the best option.

Their software is secure, using bank-level encryption, and offers the features you expect from online software including auto-filling your return, importing past returns (even from other software) and automatic pension splitting.

Conclusion 

Each of the tax return software programs reviewed today have their strengths and weaknesses, so the best tax return software in Canada really depends on your personal choice and preference.

The only way to determine which software works best for you is to try them out for yourself! I would definitely recommend starting out with TurboTax or SimpleTax as I have used them myself and they work really good and widespread.

With that said, others look good too, just that it depends on your choice. 

Please like, share and leave your comments below! Let us know what you think!

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