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Tax season in Canada 2020 is around the corner! A personal finance expert reviews some of the best tax return software in Canada.

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, safe and secure.

In 2015, 82% of Canadians filed their tax returns electronically. 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.

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.

CRA Certified

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.

Cost

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’re going to review, the range of cost will vary considerably.

Security

Online tax return software handles sensitive personal information like your social insurance number, so it’s important to make sure their 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.

Features

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.

Add-ons

Some online tax return software 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.

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

Best Tax Return Software in Canada

Editor’s Choice: TurboTax

  • Turbotax CRA Certified: Yes
  • Cost: $0.00 – $99.99
  • Encryption: Yes – TLS
  • Features: Auto-fill return, Express Notice of Assessment, importing information from previous tax returns
  • Add-ons: Assist & Review, Full Service, audit protection

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 ($19.99) to $44.99 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. That means you won’t miss out on any potential tax-savings opportunities! 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.

If you’re a “noob” to tax-filing, you can also upgrade to Assist & Review ($69.99), which gives you unlimited 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 and prepare your income tax return.

Overall, the flexibility, ease-of-use, fantastic features, and affordable pricing of TurboTax makes it a winner in our books. Read our TurboTax review for all the info.

Save up to 15% on TurboTax!


H&R Block

  • H&R BlockCRA Certified: Yes
  • Cost: $0 – $29.99
  • Encryption: Yes, TLS
  • Features: Automatic return optimization, personalized guidance, online help centre, Auto-Fill My Return, Smart Switch, SmartReview, unlimited priority support, transfer last year’s data
  • Add-Ons: Audit protection, Expert Review, last will and testament

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 basic free option for simple returns, and an “Assistance” tier at $19.99 for those who want customized tax tips and some hand-holding through the process. The most expensive tier is still affordable at $29.99, and offers unlimited priority support, digital storage, and audit protection. 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. If you opt for Expert Review, you can have a tax expert review your return before you file to further improve your refund or decrease what you owe.

Get 15% off on any H&R Block package!

SimpleTax

  •  simple taxCRA Certified: Yes
  • Cost: $0
  • Encryption: Yes
  • Features: Smart search, auto-fill return, refund optimizer, express notice of assessment, refile
  • Add-Ons: No

SimpleTax is a 100% free tax return software that is packed with features delivered through a simple, user-friendly interface. Of the free versions of software reviewed today, SimpleTax offers the most features for $0, including auto-filling your return, express notice of assessment, and refiling, which lets you make adjustments to your return after you file. 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 upsells, SimpleTax is an excellent choice.

What’s also great is SimpleTax is a “pay what you want” tax software. That means that if you’ve been affected financially by COVID-19, you can still file your taxes free of charge to get access to your refund sooner.

Learn more about SimpleTax!

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 softwares, such as TurboTax or H&R Block, might be your best bet.

Finally, as you’re sifting through receipts and tallying up expenses this tax season, don’t forget to check out our Guide to Tax Season in Canada 2020! Just a few minutes of reading could save you some serious dough.

Article comments

40 comments
Michal Iglewski says:

Definitely it was the last year I was using ufile. Since June 1st I’m trying to connect to the site without any success. My password was changed by UFILE! No possibility to get a new password. No answer to my emails. Spent twice two hours on the phone to talk to someone. Somebody was supposed to get in touch with me. Nothing!!!! I saw similar messages on the community site with no answer from Ufile. Are they still in business?

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Michal,

UFile is still in business. If you having trouble logging in, I suggest reaching out again to their customer support. You could also tweet them on Twitter — that often works.

Heather H says:

Which one of these programs would work best for a non-resident Canadian living in the USA (resident) with income canada-based and us based?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Heather, the tax software platforms are pretty robust these days so TurboTax should do the trick. Best to use something like the “Assist & Review” so you have an expert on-call to guide you through the forms.

David T says:

Previous tax returns prepared by an accounting firm using TaxPrep. Not e-filed but filed in hard copy. Now that my financial affairs are much simpler I can prepare my own. Which of these programs allows me to import from the electronic version of my 2018 tax return which I have on my MacPro?

Robb Engen says:

Hi David, TurboTax Free runs in your web browser, so any device – including your mobile phone – with a current web browser will work.

With the CRA’s Auto-fill my return, you can download your current year tax information directly from the CRA in just a few clicks and import I right into your return – this helps save you time! Just remember though, that some forms might not all be in the CRA yet, depending on when you start your return, so make sure you double check that the downloaded forms are the ones you expected.

jim says:

what you need to do is give a list of OFFLINE tax softwares for canadians
BTW Genutax does not seem to have a split pension optimizer. which ones do OFFLINE

Char says:

Apparently Simple tax was bought out by Wealthsimple (this year?) and there are changes to their privacy policy that has some users concerned. It’s worth looking deeper into this issue before proceeding with them.

Jacquie says:

Which software is compatible with Mac computers?
Also which ones have a pension splitting ?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Jacquie, these tax solutions are web-based now and completely compatible with both Mac and Windows computers. They’ll all be able to handle pension income splitting.

David T says:

Previous tax returns prepared by an accounting firm using TaxPrep. Not e-filed but filed in hard copy. Now that my financial affairs are much simpler I can prepare my own. Which of these programs allows me to import from the electronic version of my 2018 tax return which I have on my MacPro?

BreezyB says:

I have been using UFile since 2010. I used to find it very straight-forward even when I had more complicated issues, but in the last couple of years I was not as happy with it. Now they have multi-level pricing (you pay more for “priority Telephone, Chat and Email Support”, not sure where that leaves you with the cheaper version). It keeps getting more expensive every year. In order to get multi-level authentication they can’t just text you like everyone else, you have to download another Google app which I am basically forced to do since I have 8 years of personal data out there. I might try Studio Tax this year.

Tracy says:

I too have been using UFile since 2010. I have investments and rental income. I continue to be happy with them but I typically do not need support. I pay for the software in December when it is discounted. So I paid $23.95 for my spouse and myself for my 2019 taxes. I do see that the Windows version is the same price at the cheapest level. I tried Studiotax a few years ago just to test it out, but didn’t file, since I had already paid for Ufile. I did love the Studiotax software though. Sometimes you just stick with what you know because of convenience and at this stage I’m confident that UFile calculates everything correctly.

t says:

Been using Turbo tax premier since 2011 and the navigation has improved immensely since then. Very much like the program and will continue to use for all four members of our family.

larry says:

last two years of turbo tax standard has been a disaster, poor support, netfile errors. was a long time user, not anymore.

Un reliable software, columes not adding up right. terrible.

Elaine Crookston says:

Well, now they are charging per return! Holy Cow! I’m not doing that. But what do I buy now?

Bepo says:

We’ve been using StudioTax for many years and we’ve found it accurate and easy to use. You can import the previous year information, has an ‘optimizer’ feature, asks you to check some entries/lines to make sure you don’t make mistakes or forget things, saves the info on my harddrive and not in the ‘cloud’ …. in a nut-shell, highly recommended.

Dino E says:

I’m with you. Main advantage is file storage stays in your hard drive and not in the cloud. Clouds can become heavy and will eventually rain down everywhere…lol

cs says:

I have been using Ufile for last few years but for 2015 tax year it was not doing auto transfers from dependants and 2017 version didn’t let me save anything.
Turbo is too complex and I’m not sure if Studio tax does fill out all the forms once you enter the data.

Andrew says:

Studio Tax wins hands down in this comparison. Do you really want all your financial stuff to reside in the cloud waiting for some hacker to access it? Studio Tax is the only one that keeps all your stuff safe on your computer and not in the cloud and with auto-fill you can literally complete and file a return in a few minutes. In my case it took a bit longer since I had some foreign income to deal with. I highly recommend it.

Aleksej Panic says:

In most cases, Studio Tax 2019 will cost you almost 40 CAD. It won’t start unless you upgrade your file viewer and the price is 38.99 CAD.

Dave in Toronto says:

@Aleksej Panic

I believe you are mistaken or misinformed. I use the 64-bit Windows version of StudioTax. In NO case is a file viewer required. On my 17-inch laptop I set the display to 120 dpi as I spend a lot of time working on spreadsheets and I get more real estate at that resolution. When I start StudioTax a dialogue box lets me know that StudioTax prefers 96 dpi and that some forms may not display correctly. I click “OK” and continue.

I’m *not* in any way affiliated with StudioTax or BHOK IT Consulting, the firm which puts it out.

I have used StudioTax since 2014 to file multiple returns each year. I have never needed a file viewer of any kind. Nor have I had to spend a penny. I personally donate every year to support the developers. If StudioTax charged the same as the software sold at Staples or WalMart, I’d gladly pay — it’s that good!

So, bottom line, there is no file viewer needed and no money changes hands for the software.

Here’s the link to the main download page: https://www.studiotax.com/en/

YVRNOLA says:

Ive used Studio Tas for years. the cost this year for one adult and one couple was $0.
Just like every year.
Zero, not nearly $40

Problems even before getting to Simple Tax with CRA. Got to security question about my entry amount for Line 115 of 2017 return. What the …… are they serious? That line is for “other pensions and superannuation”, an entry usually empty on my returns or 0.00, which did not work, stopped me dead, and turned this into a (so far) 4 hour ordeal. So happens a trustee did my return leaving me no working copy to check obscure details like Line 115. I’ve seen security questions for, like, Total Income – Line 150 (which I DO have for 2017) that applies to all, and is easy to find; but this is insane. I read some broken English so-called “Help” sections that didn’t help. Always did my own returns, and at 70 now, it isn’t getting any easier, but this sort of problem is a non-starter.

Claude says:

StudioTax allows you to download the tax program and it’s free. I have yet to find free tax software that does that and that is important for me since I can check past returns without having to go online all the time. It’s the best software out there.

David smith says:

Studio tax, is accurate, easy to use and has auto filling feature. I am a senior

William says:

H & R BLOCK is now $29.99. I knew I should have filed before April 2019 before the increase….

Colleen says:

I have been using UFile online for many years and this may be the last time. Had to lay twice and after 2 weeks of waiting for a resonate, they told me to keep my receipt and would credit me next year. I had an error code on my return and could not remit to the CRA. My forms has been fixed, after deleting all data and re entering it, now my spouses is getting the same error. And I even auto filled from the CRA to ensure all data was correct. I am a very frustrated customer and thinking of not using them next year. No iPhone support after hours or you get a message that they are having technical difficulties and to call later. Their telephone support is only open Monday to Friday’s 9 to 5???? During the tax season? Really????

Greg says:

I am a CA and I use simpletax.ca to do my taxes. It’s free but the last couple years I’ve voluntarily paid because I’m so pleased with the features.

Judy says:

I agree. I used turbotax for many years but last year I switched to simple tax and I prefer it. I also pay a voluntary fee because the program is worth it…and it is 100% Canadian.

Amberly says:

Studio Tax has a lot of glitches, I would not recommend it.

Dino E says:

I’ve used Studio Tax since 2014 and I never had any glitches.

Lisa Seguin says:

I used MYTaxExpress and they do not offer refile in Canada, sadly, as I am guessing I am not the only one that missed the new Climate Action Incentive. So now I have to print off some paperwork and mail it in and hope that works.

If it does not work I will be very unhappy!!!

I will watch for ability to do Refile in future.

jwsmith says:

Im an older Canadian and I tried Turbo tax “free” online for the first time. Forget it!! Too complicated and poor instructions. I wanted to back out and take all my personal stuff, ph.#, sin# etc. out but they got it and I couldn’t get it back. Iknow, they are a
secure site, but I get very nervous as I still think the day will come when we will regret having all our personal info sitting in the
digital world. But, in fairness I will try others and I will keep an open mind. Hope I find an easy simple software that works for
me. Tks.

Dino E. says:

Studio Tax is just what you need. All your information stays in your computer because it’s a native program (installed in your hard drive and tax files stays in your hard drive). I’m a satisfied user, not connected with BHOK IT at all. I actually make a donation of $5 every year since I started using them for my wife’s and mine’s returns. Donations are purely voluntary, but I do it as a show of appreciation and also hopefully helping keep the company afloat, See comment from Rob Parson for more info on this software.

Markus Feldberg says:

Great article!

I know that TurboTax has a refund guarantee attached to their products, and they launched a mobile app just the other day – saw it on the Apple iTunes store.

Marilyn Hathaway says:

Are any of these compatible with Apple?

Peter says:

StudioTax has an Apple version.

Rob Parsons says:

I thought I should mention StudioTax offers auto pension splitting, as well as a refund optimizer, both of which you list under “Features” for several of the other programs in your article. Disclaimer, I am not connected with StudioTax in any way, other than as a satisfied user of many years standing.

Dave in Toronto says:

I found this article after doing a search for “Studio Tax 2019” to download the current-year version. First, I’ll mention that I’m *not* in any way affiliated with StudioTax or BHOK IT Consulting, the firm which puts it out. I’m writing this because I’ve used the software for over 5 years and I’m extremely impressed with the product.

StudioTax (completely free) is available for Windows, MacOS, Apple iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android. All versions are certified by CRA. The iOS version is available on the Apple store while the Android version can be downloaded from the Google Play store. All versions can be used to prepare up to 20 returns (a CRA limitation) per device.

I have used StudioTax since 2014 to file multiple returns. The data files are stored on my laptop, with copies in my DropBox for backup purposes. Each return is printed to PDF and saved so that I can review any return at any time by opening the PDF file. Prior to 2014 I used commercial software (TurboTax and UFile) but once I started using StudioTax I was hooked! The feature set is on par with the paid software, and if you’re a professional tax preparer then StudioTax Enterprise (paid software) can handle an unlimited number of returns.

StudioTax is developed *by* Canadians, *for* Canadians. I personally donate every year to support the developers. If StudioTax charged $20 or $25 for the software, I’d gladly pay — it’s that good!