Tax software reviews - MoneySense

Tax software reviews

Which tax programs should you use?


Show of hands: with about five weeks to go until tax return time how many of you have filled out your forms and sent them away? I bet only a handful of folks. And I don’t blame you, I’m avoiding my bills like the Russian Olympic hockey team avoids a puck.

When you do settle down do you know what tax software you’re going to use to file? (If, in fact, you’re going to do this sans accountant.) I haven’t used any tax software before — I go to a pro because I can deduct expenses — so rather than having me review what’s out there, here’s what some other bloggers have to say.

From Canadian Capitalist: I downloaded and installed UDoTaxes on my Windows Vista laptop and when I ran the software for the first time, it prompted for the usual information such as name, SIN number, Mailing address etc. and created the tax returns for the taxpayer and spouse. The software looks pleasing and follows the typical pattern of listing the summary and forms navigation on the left-hand pane and clickable CRA tax forms on the right-hand pane. You can enter tax data through the T-slips, which look exactly like the ones you receive in the mail. The T-slip screens can be accessed either through the toolbar icons or from the form list or by clicking the corresponding box in the T1 General screen.

UDoTaxes has some clever touches. Clicking on a box in the T1 General lists the related forms, which allows you to select the one you want to work with. If a form is incomplete, it is prefixed with an “x” button the forms panel. A RRSP Optimizer and a Pension Split Optimizer are built into the tool. In my opinion, UDoTaxes looks just a bit more polished and a little bit more responsive than StudioTax but both products are extremely good and the price is right.

QuickTax Online
From the Wealth Boomer: If you used QuickTaxWeb last year, you start by going online and entering your user name and password from last time. I write that information on the printout of my last tax return. Up pops your personal data and, if applicable, that of your spouse or partner. No need to rekey addresses, names of dependants or other data. It should carry forward RRSP contribution room, capital gains (or losses) data and other material.

As long as there are no major changes in your personal situation, starting a new return should be smooth sailing. You don’t need to finish your return in one session — you enter what you have, save, then log off. When ready to resume, even from a different machine in a different location, just enter your password and pick up where you left off. When you’re finally done, you can Netfile it just like any other package.

Another new feature is “Ask a Tax Expert.” This costs an extra $15, but lets you ask unlimited questions of a team of Intuit tax professionals.

From Canadian Finance Blog:
The interview process in UFile works well, though not quite as comfortable to use as the QuickTax interviewer. UFile also includes their MaxBack Refund Analyzer, which looks at the whole family to best suggest deductions, credits, and pension splitting.

UFile’s biggest strength is in their pricing. While there are free tax programs for Canadians, you may be willing to pay for a more polished and user-friendly product. [Ed note: It’s about $30.00 for the regular version]

From Canadian Finance Blog:
StudioTax includes a Quick Start Wizard that takes you through most of your taxes. StudioTax is a full featured program, including support for those that are self employed and those with investments or rental income. Unlike the paid programs, that only allow filing 8 returns, Studiotax will let you file 20, which is the maximum that the CRA will allow to be eligible for NetFile.

[An] issue I have is with the visual presentation. While it does what it needs to do, a more polished look would give it a feeling of being more user friendly and would help more Canadians to view it on the same level as QuickTax and UFile.

Follow me on Twitter @_inthemoney