Best Tax Return Software Canada 2019

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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.

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:

TurboTax

CRA Certified: Yes

Cost: $0.00 – $59.99

Encryption: Yes – TLS

Features: Auto-fill return, express notice of assessment, importing information from previous tax returns

Add-ons: Expert review, audit protection

TurboTax is online tax software from Intuit and is a big player in the tax return field. This tax return software offers free tax returns for students and several tiers of paid returns ranging from moderately priced straightforward returns to $59.99 for self-employed individuals. TurboTax uses TLS encryption, a commonly used security encryption in North America.

TurboTax has all of the bells and whistles you’d expect of high-end online tax return software. You can expect it to 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. You can also opt to have your return reviewed by a professional and protect yourself with their audit protection package.

SimpleTax

CRA 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.

StudioTax

CRA Certified: Yes

Cost: $0

Encryption: No – native program, not online

Features: No

Add-ons: No

If you’re looking for free tax return software that won’t up-sell you, StudioTax is for you. StudioTax is 100% free to use. There are no tiered services, so whether you have a complicated or simple online tax software, the fee is the same: zero.

This bare-bones software is downloadable, so you don’t have to worry about storing your sensitive information on a third-party server. Instead, it lives only on your computer. Since this is a free program, there aren’t many features or add-ons offered, although you can import previous tax years information if you have used StudioTax before.

H&R Block

CRA Certified: Yes

Cost: $9.99 – $24.99

Encryption: Yes, TLS

Features: Auto-fill return, past return import, express notice of assessment, year over year return comparison, maximum refund guarantee

Add-ons: Expert review, audit protection, last will and testament

is a relatively new entry to the online tax return software game, although they’ve been the traditional face of brick and mortar income tax return filing for decades. The H&R Block software has all of the standard features you expect in an online tax return software including auto-filling your return, past return importing and express notice of assessment.

H&R Block does have a free software option for students regardless of income, and their most expensive tiered software for entrepreneurs is still affordable at just $24.99. 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: for a fee you can have a tax professional review your return, and they also offer discounted last will and testament preparation in partnership with legalwills.ca.

UFile

CRA Certified: Yes

Cost: $0 – $19.99

Encryption: Yes, bank level

Features: Auto-fill return, past return imports, auto pension splitting, refile

Add-ons: No

If the premium versions of online tax software are too high-pressure for you, but you’d like a little more polish and functionality than the free tax software we’ve discussed, UFile is an excellent middle ground. UFile offers free tax returns for students, low-income individuals, and first-time filers. The maximum fee for UFile is $19.99 per person, making this an economical option even if you don’t qualify for the free tier. UFile is secure, using bank-level encryption, and offers the features you expect from online software including auto-filling your return, importing past returns (even from other software) and automatic pension splitting.

UFile does not up-sell their customers with add-ons like some other online tax software, so if you don’t want to take advantage of add-ons like audit protection or professional reviews, UFile is a good option.

The Bottom Line

Each of the programs reviewed today have their 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 may 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 2019! Just a few minutes of reading could save you some serious dough.

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Jordann Brown

Jordann Brown is a millennial money expert and personal finance blogger based in Nova Scotia, Canada. Jordann is the founder of the popular personal finance blog, My Alternate Life, and she frequently appears as an expert in Canada media.

17 Comments

  1. Rob Parsons on October 28, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    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.



  2. Marilyn Hathaway on January 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Are any of these compatible with Apple?



  3. Markus Feldberg on February 27, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    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.



  4. jwsmith on March 10, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    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.



  5. Lisa Seguin on March 11, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    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.



  6. Amberly on March 18, 2019 at 11:52 am

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



  7. Greg on April 3, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    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.



  8. Colleen on April 4, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    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????



  9. William on April 8, 2019 at 7:01 pm

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



  10. David smith on April 15, 2019 at 12:41 pm

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



  11. Claude on April 21, 2019 at 9:40 am

    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.



  12. Over the hill Bill on April 28, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    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.



  13. Andrew on April 29, 2019 at 11:38 am

    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.



  14. cs on April 29, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    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.



  15. Bepo on May 10, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    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.



  16. larry on May 22, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    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.



  17. t on June 12, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    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.



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