Filing your taxes online in Canada is a trend that is picking up steam every year – and for good reason. Filing online is easy and efficient, and thanks to the excellent tax return software available in Canada, accurate and secure. So if you’re ready to join the ranks of DIYers and start using online tax software for the first time, we’ve got you covered with today’s review of the top five online tax software programs in Canada.
The Best Tax Return Software in Canada
Editor’s Choice: TurboTax
- CRA Certified: Yes
- Cost: $0.00 – $249.99 ($279.99 as of April 17th)
- Encryption: Yes – TLS
- Features: Auto-fill my return, Express Notice of Assessment, import information from previous tax returns, ReFILE, mobile app available on iOS or Android
- Add-ons: Assist & Review, Full Service, audit protection, ID monitoring
- Save up to 15% off TurboTax using our Young & Thrifty link!
TurboTax is online tax software from Intuit and is a big player in the tax return game. It offers free simple tax returns and several tiers of paid returns, ranging from low-cost standard returns ($20.99) to $49.99 for self-employed returns.
TurboTax’s built-in features and intuitive platform make filing a cinch. Just answer an online questionnaire and TurboTax does the work of figuring out which of the more than 400 deductions and credits you may be eligible for – including the latest home office deduction. That means you won’t miss out on any potential tax savings opportunities! It also makes claiming COVID-19 government relief, such as CERB, CRB, CESB, etc, a breeze. It will auto-fill your return with information from the CRA, import information from previous tax returns if you’ve filed online before, and issue an express notice of assessment. It also handles non-resident returns, which most of the other software providers do not.
If you’re a “noob” to tax filing, you can also upgrade to Assist & Review started at $39.99 ($44.99 as of April 17th), which gives you unlimited virtual access to an “on-call” tax expert who will help you fill out your return and do a final line-by-line review before you file. Or if you don’t want to lift a finger, opt for TurboTax Full Service. A tax expert with an average of 10 years of experience will collect all your documentation virtually, prepare your income tax return, and submit it on your behalf.
Overall, TurboTax’s flexibility, ease of use, fantastic features, and affordable pricing make it a winner in our books. Read our TurboTax review for all the info.
Save 15% on H&R Block’s Tax Software with our Young & Thrifty link and promotional code: SAVE15AFFILIATEHRB2023
- CRA Certified: Yes
- Cost: $0 – $34.99
- Encryption: Yes, TLS
- Features: Automatic return optimization, personalized guidance, online help centre, Auto-fill my return, Smart Search, SmartReview, transfer last year’s data
- Add-Ons: Audit protection, Expert Review, Last Will and Testament
- Save 15% on H&R Block’s Tax Software with our Young & Thrifty link and promotional code: SAVE15AFFILIATEHRB2023
H&R Block is a relatively new entry to the online tax return software field, but it’s been the face of income tax filing for decades. The H&R Block online tax software has all of the standard features you expect, including auto-filling your return, past return importing and express notice of assessment.
The pricing is also excellent, allowing you to choose from three tiers. There’s a free option for simple returns, and an “Deluxe” tier at $19.99. The most expensive tier is still affordable at $34.99 for those who are self-employed, investors, gig-workers, and/or business owners. 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 (terms and conditions apply).
H&R Block hasn’t left behind the brick-and-mortar version of its tax filing strategy. If you opt for Expert Review (for an additional charge), you can have a tax expert review your return before you file to maximize your refund or decrease what you owe.
- CRA Certified: Yes
- Cost: $0
- Encryption: Yes
- Features: Smart search, Auto-fill my return, refund optimizer, Express Notice of Assessment, Re-FILE
- Add-Ons: No
Wealthsimple Tax is a 100% free tax return software packed with features that are delivered through a simple, user-friendly interface. Of the free versions of software reviewed today, Wealthsimple Tax offers the most features for $0, including auto-filling your return, an express notice of assessment, and refiling, which lets you make adjustments to your return after you file. They also make filing crypto gains and losses easy by linking directly to your crypto wallet and automatically calculating your tax figures. Wealthsimple Tax 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 free online tax software with plenty of features but no upsells, Wealthsimple Tax is an excellent choice.
What’s also great is that Wealthsimple Tax is a “pay what you want” tax software.
How to Choose the Best Tax Software
Before we dive into the particulars 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 five important components to consider: CRA Certification, cost, security, features, and add-ons.
The first and most important feature of any tax return software is that it is NETFILE-certified by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). NETFILE-certified software allows you to submit your income tax return directly from the tax return software website. There are currently 11 online products and 13 desktop products certified by the CRA in Canada.
If your tax software is not CRA-certified, you’ll have to print out your tax forms and physically mail them in, which will significantly delay the time between filing and receiving your refund.
Some online tax return software is completely free, while others offer pricing tiers. These tiers usually include a free version for students and low-income earners, a mid-range version for simple returns, and a more expensive version for Canadians who need additional functionality (e.g. small business owners).
While the basic three tiers exist for most of the programs we reviewed, the cost varies considerably.
Online tax return software handles sensitive personal information like your social insurance number, so it’s important to make sure the security is up to snuff. You’ll need to do your research on this topic since the CRA doesn’t verify the security of the websites it certifies.
If you aren’t sure, choose a familiar brand name.
While all online tax return software will allow you to file your income tax return online, some have additional features that streamline the filing process. Some of these features, like auto-importing information from the CRA, reduce the time it takes to file your taxes. Other features make filing your taxes more straightforward in the future, such as offering an express notice of assessment and storing your returns for future use.
Some online tax return software brands sell extra add-ons like having your return reviewed by a real-life tax professional, audit protection, and last will and testament planning. These add-ons come at an additional cost, and you can choose them at the end of the tax filing process.
When Does NETFILE Open for 2023?
NETFILE opens on February 20, 2023, for filing personal tax returns for the 2022 tax year. To file online, you must use CRA-certified tax-filing software products that use the NETFILE web service. You can also file previous tax years back to 2016, but returns for tax years earlier than 2015 must be done on paper.
The Bottom Line
Each online tax software service has strengths and weaknesses, so the best tax return software in Canada really depends on your personal preferences. The only way to determine which software works best for you is to try them out for yourself! But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the tried, tested, and true online software, such as TurboTax, might be your best bet.