Did you know that in 2017 the average Canadian household spent $35,000 in taxes annually? In 2021, even though taxes are the largest household expense, that number remained relatively the same at $35,047.
On top of that amount, families may spend hundreds of dollars on a return prepared by a certified tax accountant as they stack billable hours on top of a flat fee. Taxes become intricately more complicated when your income isn't the only thing you're claiming. RRSP's, charitable tax credits, moving expenses, medical expenses are just a fraction of what you may need to file for. While gathering, organizing and preparing all of this information is one thing, actually filing it is another.
Looking to save money and precious time, Canadians are flocking to self-service platforms that allow individuals to file taxes online. With the number of online tax programs multiplying, how does one successfully choose the best tax return software for their needs?
To find out, we've created this guide to free tax software in Canada. Our collection of intuitive home-preparation platforms could become the best thing you do this 2022 tax season for your wallet -- and your sanity.
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Is it NETFILE-certified to be compliant with the CRA electronic filing system?
What are the security features?
Doing your homework ahead of time will save you precious time. Remember -- the ideal tax software will result in an accurate, secure return -- even if you aren't an accounting expert.
Best Free Tax Software Options in Canada in 2023
With the amount of consumer-grade technology available to Canadians, it should be easy to narrow down the perfect tax preparation and filing service. Filing your tax returns directly through NETFILE-certified tax software will help to improve the accuracy of your return.
Here are the nine best tax return software options in 2023 to research and implement during the next tax season. For those in pursuit of the best tax refund possible, these systems might be game-changing!
Wealthsimple Tax (previously known as Simple Tax) is one of the most popular online tax services in Canada. It is known for being incredibly accurate, and uniquely supportive with its team of live support agents.
With an "optional donation" model, Wealthsimple can be free for all users. Donating or making additional payments does not unlock any additional features.
To file taxes with WealthSimple, get started by creating an online account and following the helpful prompts onscreen. Because they're considered one of the "most human financial companies in the world," you can proceed knowing that you'll be asked simple, humanistic questions during your filing process. For those in the crypto market, Wealthsimple Tax can also calculate capital gains and losses. Simply linking your accounts will sort your crypto trades into a language the tax software can understand.
Reviews note that the WealthSimple interface was able to provide them with their maximum refund. State-of-the-art encryption and two-factor authentication keep your information safe.
Wealthsimple Tax is available all throughout Canada.
Users can file CRA-certified tax returns with a basic (free) TurboTax account. Other free features available in the Basic plan include:
Free tax data imports
COVID-19 income support
Some choose additional add ons for peace of mind. Possible add-ons for the popular standard membership include:
Tax support for stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and rental properties
Help and guidance with self-employment taxes
When filing with TurboTax, users will create an Intuit account and follow all prompts to input/import necessary data. You can begin the process here. If you completed a return in prior years and haven't changed employers, you can download your previous year’s tax information directly from the CRA. To avoid errors, you will be asked to double-check your work and may upload additional documents, if requested.
Pro-tip: For those with memberships, try purchasing the TurboTax software at Costco! Users can save additional cash when buying their program at the Costco discount.
With over 55 years of experience, H&R Block is a trusted option for tax season. With the option to either file with a tax expert or independently, H&R Block gives you the ability to customize your experience.
For an additional fee, you may file in an office, drop off your documents with a Tax Expert for review, or connect with a representative online. To use the free version, file your taxes independently with H&R Block's intuitive software.
The following features are included in the free version of the software:
Automatic return optimization
An online Helpt Centre
The ability to auto-fill information from previous years
Smart Search form and slip database
For more features, you'll need to upgrade to the "Assistance" or "Protection" plan. These upgrades provided added support and assistance for the most complicated of returns.
With UFile, users can start their tax returns online without any initial charges. UFile is always free for simple returns, post-secondary students (regardless of income), and first-time filers. This software can support any tax return type.
UFile members have access to:
Tax return storage
UFile’s Triple Guarantee -- "Accuracy, Satisfaction and the Best Tax Result"
Complicated tax returns may require an upgrade to UFile Pro or UFile Premium. This is to ensure the most accurate result possible before you file with the government.
AdvTax is a popular NETFILE- and EFILE-certified Canadian tax preparation software available to all consumers. It is currently available in all Canadian provinces and territories and can support returns that are up to three years old.
Using AdvTax for the NETFILE preparation system is completely free. Free online filing for low-income taxpayers is available for those who inquire. Features include:
Integrated tax calculator
Online demos and email support
CRA forms library
Common tax data checklist
Mobile versions available
Make adjustments and fix mistakes after you file
Retirement account integration
AdvTax is known for its privacy and security measures. By encrypting sensitive data, you can rest assured knowing your information is safe.
It's quick, too! By following the online instructions, AdvTax guarantees completion within 5-10 minutes.
GenuTax is a free downloadable program for PC users. Because it is an application intended for Windows operating systems, Mac users, unfortunately, cannot take advantage of this option.
Filing for past years is possible with GenuTax. Users are welcome to file tax returns for any year from 2003-2022, and may input data for:
Choosing GenuTax over other brands is best for those living outside of Quebec, as it is not supported in the province. Reviews note that GenuTax's "pay-what-you-can" model makes it an accessible option for any income bracket. Unfortunately, GenuTax only provides customer support via email, so most customer requests will take a minimum of 48-hours to be returned.
GenuTax is available all throughout Canada except Quebec province.
CloudTax is tax software intended for non-business owners. This is a great option for those interested in saving themselves from a hefty software fee and filing their taxes independently!
This Canadian company is NETFILE Certified and offers customers a convenient, intuitive app for on-the-go accounting and document scanning.
Reviews gush over the CloudTax Customer Success Team. Filing your taxes on your own doesn't mean you can't ask questions! Connect with a customer service representative via online chat and clarify the trickier aspects of your return.
Unlike TurboTax and H&R Block Online, CloudTax provides:
Digital tax return storage
PDF review prior to filing
Unlimited chat support
Customers are also welcome to add on optional audit protection.
If you need additional help, users can upgrade to CloudTax Pro. For a fee, CloudTax Pro utilizes certified tax experts to claim every business deduction possible, accurately report investments, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and RRSPs, and claim all possible deductions for your rental properties.
CloudTax Free is available all throughout Canada except in Quebec, Nunavut and Northwest Territories.
StudioTax is dependable Canadian software that is compatible with:
As StudioTax is intended for individual filers or single-family households, the software will allow a user to complete up to 20 returns per device.
Unlike its competitors, StudioTax provides a free trial before committing to its filing software. Once the free trial is complete, however, you will be required to purchase a license in order to complete your return. StudioTax no longer offers free access to users with an annual income over $20k.
Unlike many free tax software options, StudioTax is certified by Revenue Quebec -- a standard that guarantees users that they can prepare and file Quebec Provincial returns.
StudioTax is available all throughout Canada.
CRA Certified Tax Software
While the above suggestions lay out some of the CRA Certified Tax Software, there are plenty more to choose from. The CRA has really come a long way in terms of making tax time easier for Canadians. Notably they separate the options into two groups:
Find a Free or Pay-What-You-Want Software
These are programs that kindly ask for a donation at the end of your filing session. Oftentimes the process was so simple, that most make a donation
TurboTax Free for Android - Certified Years: 2018 - 2022
CloudTax - Certified Years: 2018 - 2022
CloudTax for Android - Certified Years: 2018 - 2022
CloudTax for iPhone, iPad - Certified Years: 2018 - 2022
GenuTax Standard for Windows - Certified Years: 2017 - 2022
StudioTax for iPhone, iPad - Certified Years: 2019 - 2022
StudioTax for Android - Certified Years: 2019 - 2022
Paid Software with Free Offerings
Obviously some tax preparations are more complicated than others and for that reason, there are paid software programs that offer free perks. These are usually dependant on individual tax situations or income levels.
StudioTax (for Mac and Windows) - Certified Years: 2017 - 2022
CloudTax Plus (Android / Apple) - Certified Years: 2022
CloudTax Plus - Certified Years: 2022
File Your Taxes Online with the Best Tax Return Software
Once you have found the best tax return software to fit your situation, you should be able to easily meet the April 30, 2023 deadline. There's no reason to procrastinate when using the perfect digital tool! File accurately, receive the biggest refund possible and get back to doing the things that you love.
Remember -- filing independently doesn't mean you have to figure it all out on your own. For more tax advice and guidance, check out the Insurdinary blog.