With tax season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about getting organized and filing your income tax return. I’ve filed my income tax return online since I was a student in my early 20s, and every year I’m asked by family and friends about which income tax software to use. For me, the answer is easy: TurboTax. I’ve used TurboTax almost every year, and I couldn’t be happier.
The Version of TurboTax That I Use (And Why)
Today I use the TurboTax Self-Employed online software, but I’ve tried out various versions including Free and Standard. Even as my financial life has changed and gotten more complicated, I’ve stuck with TurboTax because it’s got features that make filing my taxes easy:
- You can track your refund in real-time while you add in things like T4s and RRSP contributions
- The variety of software options means you only pay for the features you need
- Filing returns for your whole household in one session are easy
- The deduction section is updated every year and checks for over 400 deductions using a series of straight-forward questions
- Your TurboTax account saves information from the previous year, like Home Buyer’s Plan contributions
- TurboTax can import your information from your CRA MyAccount, so you don’t need to track down T4s or government benefit statements
- TurboTax offers the chance to have your return reviewed by a tax expert, so if you aren’t sure about something, you can get it double-checked
- It’s more affordable than a tax professional, who can cost upwards of several hundred dollars
- Filing online is COVID safe. You can file your income tax return with TurboTax including and have it reviewed by a tax professional online, eliminating the safety risk of visiting a local branch
- TurboTax makes it easy to claim COVID-19 relief (including CERB, CRB, CESB, etc.) and also to take advantage of the work-from-home tax credit
While I have used another income tax software provider in the past, the experience was less than stellar and resulted in me narrowly avoiding committing tax fraud after misreading the online filing instructions. Since then, I’ve happily stuck with TurboTax. For years, I used TurboTax Deluxe, the online version that allows you to report income and claim common deductions, like medical expenses, donations, and more. This edition costs $19.99 (but by using our special promo, you can save 15% on the regular price), and has been easy to use at every life stage, from my young 20s to married life with joint filling and beyond.
In 2013 the way that I used TurboTax changed. My needs shifted because I started freelancing and bringing in extra income on top of my full-time job. At this point, I became a sole proprietor, and the added income and expenses meant that I needed more functionality than the edition of TurboTax that I had been using. I upgraded to the Self-Employed edition, and it meets my needs perfectly. I’ve used that edition for the past several years to file my income tax return – including my business income and expenses. The Self-Employed edition is a little more expensive at $44.99, but it is much less costly than paying a tax professional.
The bottom line? With its affordability, ease of use, and fantastic features, you can’t go wrong with using TurboTax to file your Canadian taxes. If you want all the details, check out our full TurboTax review.
TurboTax Online Versions Explained
TurboTax currently divides its tax software into three suites: personal taxes, self-employed taxes, and a “full service” option which lets you pay a professional to prepare your taxes. Within the personal suite, you can choose from three different types of software: Free, Deluxe, and Premier. For Canadians with self-employment income, you can select from Self-Employed or Assist & Review Self-Employed.
Most DIY tax software programs have a free version for students and straightforward tax situations, and TurboTax is no different. The TurboTax Canada Free version costs $0 to use and is suitable for Canadians with simple, straightforward income tax returns. It handles almost every Canadian tax situation with step-by-step guidance, however for additional support you’ll have to look to one of the paid versions.
TurboTax Deluxe (Most Popular)
TurboTax Deluxe works for most situations and allows you to maximize your credits and deductions, such as tuition transfer, charitable donations, and employment and medical expenses. This software regularly costs $19.99 per return and lets you claim your T4 income, pre-qualifies you for over 400 deductions, optimizes your RRSP, and gives you the option to connect with a tax expert to review your return if you are unsure.
If you have investment or rental property income and expenses, TurboTax Premier is the best option for you. TurboTax Premier regularly costs $34.99. This version has all of the same features as TurboTax Deluxe but also includes income and expenses from all your investments—stock, bonds, employee stock purchase plans, cryptocurrency, rental property, and more. It also covers foreign income.
TurboTax Self-Employed regularly costs the most at $44.99 (discounted to $38.25 with our promo code) and is essential for anyone who freelances or side hustles as a sole proprietor or in a partnership. With TurboTax Self-Employed, you can claim expenses related to your business, from home office expenses to vehicle mileage, right down to food and snacks. The business section of TurboTax Self-Employed compliments the personal side, and it’s easy to file everything in a single sitting.
TurboTax Online vs Desktop Versions
TurboTax offers its tax filing software in online, mobile, and desktop editions. What’s the difference? We break it down:
TurboTax Online (Great for Mac Users)
TurboTax Online allows you to log into your account in a web browser, and doesn’t require you to download and install a software program. It requires a secure sign-in, uses data encryption, and is accessible from any device, as long as your username and password are handy. When you use one of the online editions listed above, you’ll pay once for a single return and then an extra fee to add a return, which is ideal for two-income families, where you are only filing a maximum of two tax returns. You might choose an online edition if you’re filing a single return plus a spouse’s return because the fee to add additional returns is low. TurboTax Online is available in four editions: Free, Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed.
- What is it: Browser-based software for PC, Mac, or tablet
- Cost: $0 to $44.99 (for Do-It Yourself)
- Why use it: Log into your account from anywhere, on PC or Mac
- Other perks/features: Optional Review & Assist and Full Service income tax return filing
TurboTax Desktop Editions
If you’d prefer to download a software program, you can opt for the desktop edition of TurboTax. TurboTax’s desktop programs are broken into the same basic categories as the online editions but have different names and prices:
- TurboTax Basic ($19.99)
- TurboTax Standard ($34.99)
- TurboTax Premier ($74.99)
- TurboTax Home & Business ($119.99)
The downloadable desktop versions of TurboTax are only available on PC and are more expensive than their online counterparts, because they allow you to file extra returns at no additional cost). For example, the TurboTax Online Self-Employed program regularly costs $44.99 per return. The TurboTax small business desktop version of this software is called Home & Business and costs $119.99 but includes 12 returns. The ability to file many extra returns may be overkill in your situation, or it may be ideal. For example, a family with several teenagers who work part-time jobs would benefit from the desktop version.
- What is it: Downloadable program for PC users
- Cost: $0 to $119.99
- Who’s it best for: Anyone filing more than two returns; incorporated businesses
- Why use it: Can be used offline, can be used to file multiple returns
- Other perks/features: All the same features as the online version
Other TurboTax Editions
The TurboTax mobile app is available on iOS and Android devices and lets you file your taxes from your smartphone or tablet. Choose one of the online editions listed above and file your taxes quickly and easily on the go. If you don’t have all of your tax information on hand, you can start filing your taxes via mobile and switch to the browser version later, or vice versa, for maximum convenience.
TurboTax Assist & Review
TurboTax Assist & Review is an upgrade available for an extra fee when purchasing the TurboTax online editions. TurboTax Assist & Review gives you virtual access to a TurboTax Expert on-demand while filling out your income tax return. Assist & Review allows you to have an expert review your income tax return via video chat before you submit the final product. The service costs between $39.99 and $89.99 for Free, Deluxe, and Premier packages, and $109.99 for Self-Employed packages.
TurboTax Full Service
TurboTax also offers a Full-Service product, which has a tax professional file your taxes for you virtually. The cost for this service is $279.99 for self-employed returns.
|Turbo Tax Edition||Best For|
|Free||Simple returns or users who are confident preparing their taxes with minimal guidance|
|Deluxe||Returns with T4 income, RRSP contributions, tuition tax credits, Home Buyer’s Plan participants, etc.|
|Premier||Returns with income and expenses from rental properties and investments|
|Self-Employed||Returns with business income and expenses|
As we’ve discussed at length in our TurboTax Canada review, TurboTax’s online tax return software is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to file their taxes themselves. Whether you’ve got a straightforward tax return or a complicated one involving business income and expenses, TurboTax has a version of the software that will suit your needs at an affordable price. 2022 might be a complicated tax season for you, but with TurboTax’s COVID-19 information centre and Assist & Review tools, you’ll have an expert available to review your taxes and put your mind at ease.