After extensive research, TurboTax wins out as our top choice for the best tax software in Canada. The flexibility, ease-of-use, special features, and affordable pricing of TurboTax makes it ideal for most tax situations ranging from simple to complex.
- Expert help
- Families, students and individual returns
- Self-employed and investment/rental income
What is TurboTax?
TurboTax is a Canadian income tax software that allows you to prepare your taxes online and submit your income tax return directly to the CRA. Whether you have a simple return, own property or a small business, or want to prepare your return on your mobile device, TurboTax can meet your needs.
TurboTax’s claim to fame is that they are Canada’s #1 tax software and that they’ve helped Canadians file 45 million income tax returns over the past 20 years. Their claims are true: if you want help preparing your taxes without paying a premium, TurboTax is the software for you.
Canadians turn to TurboTax because it has a reputation of rock-solid reliability, tiered service that ensures you only pay for the functionality you need, excellent customer service, and full integration into the Canada Revenue Agency’s NETFILE system.
Why Use TurboTax?
If you are one of the 50% of Canadians who have reported feeling uneasy about filing your taxes, TurboTax is an excellent choice. TurboTax is an ideal middle ground between completely DIYing your taxes with a pen and paper and paying an accountant or brick-and-mortar business hundreds of dollars to prepare a return. With TurboTax, you’ll pay somewhere between $0 and $45, depending on the complexity of your return.
The software is safe and secure, and they offer an accuracy guarantee, so if there is an error in their calculation of your taxes, or if another tax prep method yields a greater return, they’ll make it right for you. On top of this security, TurboTax makes the process of actually filing your return easy, because they are NETFILE certified, meaning you can process your return through the TurboTax website directly, without the hassle of downloading a PDF and uploading it to the CRA website.
There are four tiers of pricing for TurboTax products. Which tier is right for you depends on how complex you feel your tax situation is, and how much help you want along the way. If you plan to prepare your taxes yourself without any help from a pro, TurboTax pricing is competitive with similar online tax preparation software. Plus, Young and Thrifty readers can use our exclusive TurboTax promo code and save 15% off any paid TurboTax package!
If you need some extra assistance preparing your tax return, TurboTax also offers expert help in the form of their Assist & Review service, which gives you on-demand advice from a tax expert. The cost for this service ranges, depending on whether you have self-employment income or not. If you’ve had a complicated year with multiple income sources and government benefit payments, you can even have a TurboTax expert prepare your taxes by choosing the full-service option.
If you don’t need this type of extra help, here are the four pricing tiers TurboTax offers:
FREE Standard Premier Self-Employed Assist & Review Full Service Best For Simple tax returns or DIYers who are confident in their ability to prepare their own return Families, students, and individuals Landlords and investors Small business owners, freelancers DIYers who want a little 1:1 help from an expert along the way If you prefer a pro to do your tax return Cost $0 per return $19.99 per return $34.99 per return $44.99 per return $79.99 $129.99 Special Feature Do your taxes for free with the TurboTax mobile app Finds tax saving opportunities by searching 400+ credits and deductions Answer simple questions to find all deductions for your rental property and/or guide you on how to report your investments accurately Get guidance claiming self-employed expenses and credits to ensure your return is accurate Get unlimited, real-time tax advice as you do your taxes, plus a final review before you file. A TurboTax expert will prepare your return on your behalf.
- Flexible Pricing Options: Whether you are a student, an entrepreneur, or something in between, TurboTax has a pricing tier to suit your needs. Prices start as low as free and range up to $44.99 for self-employed individuals.
- NETFILE Integration: TurboTax is “in-synch” with the CRA’s NETFILE, making tax-filing a cinch. TurboTax can also import info from the CRA to autofill your return, and you can securely file directly to the CRA with just a few clicks of your mouse. By using NETFILE with TurboTax, you’ll get an Express Notice of Assessment instantly, and you can expect your tax refund in as few as eight days.
- Auto-fill my return: TurboTax helps you get a jumpstart on your taxes by gathering the information available from your CRA My Account and downloading it into your return. Auto-fill my return imports your T Slips for employment income, benefit slips including those for CERB or other recovery benefits, and RRSP contribution limits for quick and easy filing.
- RRSP Optimizer: Not sure if you should contribute more to your RRSP? The RRSP Optimizer shows you how different contribution amounts will affect your refund or amount owing.
- Instant Refund Ticker: Don’t wait until you’re nearly finished to see the final tally – the tracker keeps you updated along the way. As you enter your information, you can watch in real-time how it affects your refund or tax owed.
- TurboTax Assist & Review: Upgrade to Assist & Review to have a real tax expert available while you fill out your return, and do a final line by line review before you file. Expert reviews are an excellent tool if your tax situation has recently changed.
- TurboTax Full Service: If you’d prefer, you can upgrade to TurboTax Full Service and have a tax expert prepare your return, optimize it for credits and deductions, and file it on your behalf.
- Pension Splitter: If you have CPP or other pensions, you can split up to 50% of that with your spouse. TurboTax automatically advises you on the best distribution of your income to pay the least amount in taxes.
- Return Review: Before you file TurboTax does one final review of your return to ensure you get the largest possible refund.
- Audit Defense: This add-on gives you professional representation if you are audited by the CRA. This tax pro will deal with the CRA on your behalf to minimize your stress.
- Walks you through life changes: Whether your bought a house, got married or divorced, or started up a side-gig, TurboTax has you covered. It guides you through these changes step by step.
- Mobile App: File your taxes with the free TurboTax mobile app for iOS and Android.
- Walks you through life changes: Whether you bought a house, got married or divorced, or started up a side-gig, TurboTax has you covered. It guides you through these changes step by step.
- Accuracy guaranteed: If you receive a larger or smaller tax refund from another tax preparation software, your copy of TurboTax is free. On top of that, TurboTax guarantees their calculations are 100% accurate and will reimburse you any fees or penalties from the CRA if a mistake is found.
- COVID-19 Tax Info Centre: Have questions about your government COVID-19 benefits or looking for a step-by-step guide on claiming your home office expenses? Turbotax has launched a COVID-19 info centre with everything you need to know about claiming benefits and deductions at tax time.
TurboTax Support Options
Got questions? TurboTax has answers. Here are some ways that you can access support during the tax-filing process.
TurboTax Free Support
When you use TurboTax and choose either the Standard, Premier, or Self-Employed editions of the software, you’ll have access to the following free support:
- TurboTax Community: An online community with answers from both tax experts and customers. Have a highly specific question about a specific deduction or situation? Odds are someone else has asked about it on the Community and got an answer.
- Phone support: TurboTax offers phone and one-way video product support with all paid products. Call TurboTax between the hours of 9 am until 6 pm EST from Monday to Friday, with extended hours until midnight from February 24 until April 30. Support is available in both English and French.
TurboTax Assist & Review
TurboTax Assist & Review is an excellent way to prepare your tax return yourself, but have a tax expert “on-call” if you have questions. At a cost of $79.99, you’ll gain access to unlimited advice from a tax expert. That means if you hit a roadblock during the process, you can ask a tax expert for advice in real-time while you’re completing your return. The cost of this service for self-employed individuals is $99.99.
Once your income tax return is completed, schedule a time for your tax expert to virtually review your return line-by-line to ensure you haven’t missed or omitted anything. This service is available for both personal income tax returns and for those with small business or rental income.
TurboTax Full Service
Prefer a tax pro to do the work but don’t want to visit one in person? TurboTax Full Service has you covered. For $129.99, a tax expert with an average of 10 years of experience will collect all your documentation online and prepare your income tax return for you virtually. The tax expert will optimize your return, review it with you via phone or video chat, and then file it on your behalf. TurboTax Full Service is available for self-employed individuals as well, but the cost is $199.99.
TurboTax Pros and Cons
- Easy-to-use — Answer a series of simple questions and TurboTax does the rest.
- CRA NETFILE certified — With a few clicks, securely submit your tax return directly to the CRA and get a Notice of Assessment in mere minutes. Expect your tax refund in as few as 8 business days.
- Mobile app — File your taxes with the free TurboTax mobile app for iOS and Android.
- Outstanding tax support — Real-time, on-screen support, giving you access to a tax expert at your fingertips
- Accuracy guaranteed
- Updated annually — Guaranteed to provide you access to new tax deductions and benefits available during COVID-19 along with 400 other possible deductions.
- Auto-fill my return — Download your T4 and benefit slips directly from the Canada Revenue Agency with a few clicks.
- Not suitable for every tax situation
- Can be more expensive than an accountant if preparing multiple returns
How Does TurboTax Compare?
TurboTax isn’t the only tax preparation software on the market. Here’s how TurboTax stacks up to some top competitors.
TurboTax Wealthsimple Tax H&R Block StudioTax UFile CRA Certified Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Pricing $0 - $44.99 $0 $0 – $29.99 $15 $0 - $22.99 Encryption Yes, TLS Yes Yes No (downloadable software instead) Yes Features Auto-fill my return from CRA, express NOA, importing return information from previous years, deduction/RRSP optimization, ReFILE Smart search, auto-fill return from CRA, refund optimizer, express notice of assessment, ReFILE Auto-fill my return from CRA, past return import, express NOA, year over year return comparison Importing return information from previous years Auto-fill my return from CRA, past return imports, auto pension splitting, ReFILE Support options Community help available in free version; phone and one-way video support available in paid DIY products Online FAQs, email support Phone support, in person support at branches, online help centre, chat support Email support only available for software issues, no tax support Online knowledgebase, contact form, phone support Add-ons Audit protection, ID monitoring, expert review, have an expert file your return from start to finish No Expert review, audit protection, digital return storage No No Wealthsimple Tax review H&R Block review
*Depending on service level
TurboTax User Experience
TurboTax is optimized to make filing your taxes a breeze, but if you’ve never used the software before, the sign-up process involves creating a user ID and setting up your password. You’ll need this information to sign in later, so keep it in a safe place. The next time you sign in, the two-step authentication process will email or text you a single-use code that you’ll need, so be sure to enter your phone number and email address correctly.
Once you’ve signed in, TurboTax will ask you about your tax situation, which will help suggest which of their four products is the best choice for you.
After you complete the questionnaire and select the product tier that works for your situation, TurboTax will begin building your tax profile. To do this, the software needs basic information from you including your social insurance number, date of birth, dependents and spouse information, and address.
The user interface itself is easy to understand and navigate. If you are preparing multiple returns, you can cycle through them using the menu on the left side of the screen. Moving forward and backward between screens is possible by using the bottoms on the bottom, and you can save your return and exit at any time using the sign-out option on the bottom left-hand side. If there is a section you aren’t sure about, you can use the bookmark function to come back later.
TurboTax is also available on mobile, with a sleek app that makes filing a simple tax return a breeze. You can also swap between the browser and mobile version of the software, completing the different sections as you see fit.
Final Call: Is TurboTax Worth It?
While many Canadians typically have straightforward tax returns, 2020 might have made your tax situation a little more complicated. Whether you qualified for one of the many government benefit programs launched to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, or simply want to claim the home office deduction this year, for most Canadians, tax season in 2020 will be a little more complicated than usual. TurboTax has got you covered, offering you a viable way to DIY your taxes in 2020 – even if they are more complicated. If you aren’t comfortable DIYing, but also want to stay away from brick and mortar tax preparers, TurboTax gives you the option of having your return reviewed by a tax pro for an extra fee, so you can be sure that what you’re submitting is error-free. All of these services are offered at an affordable price with an easy-to-navigate user interface, and honestly, we can’t think of a reason why you shouldn’t use TurboTax this tax season.
Ready to sign up? Don’t forget to use our exclusive TurboTax promo code and save 15% off any paid TurboTax package!