As we flip the calendar and look forward to springtime, Canadians are thinking of the activities that they’ll soon be able to enjoy again such as long walks in non-sub-zero temperatures, frolics on the beach, and tax preparation. Ok, so maybe one of those things is not quite like the others.
Filing your taxes might not be the first thing that you think of when you’re told to associate an activity with the word “fun”; however, it can be made much less painful and time-consuming if you use the right tools to help you out. Sure, you could get that shoebox of receipts together and march down to your local tax preparation place – where you will get charged an absurd amount for someone to ask you a basic set of questions, or you could read those same basic prompts in the comfort of your own home and save yourself some serious cash. You might even learn a little about taxation works *shiver* in the process.
TurboTax is Canada’s #1 tax software and has been used by millions of Canadians for over 20 years. If you’re looking for a helping hand, that can help you file your taxes immediately – and then collect a tax refund eight business days later, then you’re in the right place. As TurboTax has improved over the years, they have eliminated a lot of small steps that weren’t really confusing before, they just simply took a little more time and required a little more thorough understanding of how to file taxes online. These days TurboTax has fully integrated the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) NETFILE system into their platform so that you can file your taxes with a single click and not have to worry about manually taking the return over to a separate platform like you had to do years ago.
How Much Does TurboTax Cost?
You can use TurboTax online or download the software. Because your tax situation is as unique as you are, TurboTax offers different packages that vary in what they offer at different price points. Here is a quick summary.
TurboTax Free allows you to (as you might have guessed from the title) file simple and complex returns for free. You can use this version on your tablet as well. If you start your tax return in this version, you can upgrade at any time if it becomes apparent you could benefit from a little more nuance.
The most popular TurboTax version is “Standard” at a price point of $19.99. If you have a fairly basic T4 and the normal deductions (TurboTax will prompt you with questions that will automatically determine if you meet the criteria for over 400 deductions) then you should be ok with the standard package.
I personally like the TurboTax “Premier” package for $39.99 because it allows clients to access some more detailed features concerning investment income and rental property income. It should also be noted that any paid TurboTax package comes with phone and video support from a tax specialist (but in my experience, the prompts have never left me needing help).
If you run a small business and are self-employed then you’ve no doubt figured out by this point (hopefully) that your tax situation is going to be a little more complex than most. Consequently, TurboTax has a package just for you. For $59.99 you can file both your personal and business income taxes together using TurboTax Self-Employed.
If you require more extensive professional help with your taxes (and again, I’ve never needed these features) TurboTax Live offers the “Assist and Review” and “Full Service” packages for $79.99 and $99.99 respectively. These features include an analyst going over your return line-by-line and making sure you get every single penny back on your tax return.
If you’re one of the 50% of Canadians (as determined by a TurboTax survey) who feel uneasy about filing their own taxes because they feel that they’ll miss a chance to get money back on their tax return, then you may want to lean on TurboTax’s new SmartLook feature.
Introduced for the 2017 tax year, this new tool allows Canadians to access an on-demand service with personalized tax advice and product specialists (professionals who have an average of 17 years’ experience in the tax preparation world). All you have to do to access SmartLook is click the Help panel, select “Contact us” (or “Talk to an expert” in the app), type in your question – and boom – you’ve got someone on the line (or schedule a callback) who can walk you through whatever problem that you’re experiencing.
When using SmartLook to connect with a TurboTax specialist, you will actually see your helper on video – but don’t worry – it’s a one-way video connection (so you can still chill in your PJs with makeup or shaving optional). They’ll simply view your TurboTax screen, and highlight any areas where you can help yourself put more of your tax money back in your pocket.
SmartLook includes two levels of support:
- If you purchase an online edition of the “Standard”, “Premier”, or “Self-Employed” packages, SmartLook specialists will offer general support on questions such as where to enter medical expenses.
- If you spring for the TurboTax Live packages, you will get a TurboTax Expert who will provide one-on-one advice the entire time that you’re filling out your return. They will then review it and double-check that your return is fully optimized.
TurboTax is an excellent tool for any DIY tax preparer. They guarantee 100% accuracy in their calculations and if you can prove you paid a penalty because of a TurboTax error, they’ll reimburse you the price of that penalty – plus the interest! The platform has only become more refined and user friendly over the years. When compared to the price in both time and money of working with a fully-credentialed accountant, there is simply no comparison.
*This post was created in partnership with Intuit TurboTax*
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