Tax season is upon us and with it, the associated tax stress. If you haven’t already done your tax return, then it’s time to start thinking about it. The deadline to file your taxes for the 2018 calendar year is April 30, 2019, or June 15, 2019 for those who are self-employed. All Canadian citizens, or those living and working in Canada, need to file a tax return if you owe taxes, want to claim a refund, have been asked to file by the CRA, or want to receive any federal or provincial payment benefits such as GST/HST or the Canada Child Benefit.
Technology is making filing for your tax returns easier than ever. With income tax preparation software, free online tax calculators, and electronic filing, completing your 2019 tax return shouldn’t be a hassle.
Tax options for 2019
There are several options for doing and submitting your taxes in 2019. Some of the most common methods for doing taxes are:
- Using tax professional company (averaging $130 with H&R Block)
- Using an accountant or CPA (usually costing more than a “tax professional”)
- Having a knowledgeable friend or family member do them for you (free or paid)
- Doing them yourself, with or without income tax software ($0+)
Additionally, there are some free local programs to help certain Canadian citizens file their taxes. These include:
- Tax clinics for those with a modest income and straightforward tax return. Tax clinics are held across Canada, though you are required to register in advance.
- File my Return, which started in 2018 and is back again for 2019. This is a free phone service aimed at helping eligible individuals with low or fixed income.
Why you should consider income tax software in 2019
Income tax software is becoming increasingly popular here in Canada. The step-by-step programs tell you exactly what you need to have and what information to put where.
They’re quick, easy, safe, efficient, and affordable — especially if you choose free software.
So, what’s the difference between paid software and free income tax software? At first thought, you may assume that the paid version has to be better — but that’s not necessarily the case. Paid versions usually offer more support such as expert review and audit protection, however those aren’t necessarily things you need, especially if your taxes are straightforward. At the end of the day, as long as your software is certified by the CRA then you can be sure that it’s secure and worthwhile. If you can save yourself some money by taking advantage of the free income tax software, then you may as well.
Free income tax software options available to Canadians in 2019
When it comes to free income tax software options in Canada there are many to choose from. With more than 90% of Canadians filing online, you might want to focus on software that is NETFILE-certified by the Canadian government.
There are two main reasons why you want to choose a NETFILE program. The first, and most obvious, is because it’s much easier and faster. NETFILE allows you to file electronically while non-NETFILE compatible programs mean you need to mail everything in. The second reason as to why NETFILE is so advantageous is that it allows you to take advantage of the Auto-fill my return feature. This program takes information that the CRA already has on file for you such as your employment income and investment income, and automatically adds it to your current return. While this isn’t necessary, it definitely makes the process faster and easier.
There are a number of free, certified NETFILE compatible software options; here are a few of them:
SimpleTax is completely free with no paid add-ons. It lets you “Pay What You Want” with $0 as one of the options.
Features include auto-filing and express notice of assessment (NOA), as well as a tutorial mode which allows users to figure out which forms apply to their needs. SimpleTax runs in your browser or through an iOS app.
StudioTax is also completely free and can be used for any type of return. Unlike other income tax software programs, StudioTax is a downloadable program which some people prefer because it means your information isn’t stored on a third-party site. StudioTax is compatible with Windows and Mac.
TurboTax is a free option with tiered paid options for more complicated returns. Additionally, you can pay extra for an expert review or audit protection. TurboTax is compatible with Windows and Mac, as well as Android and iOS.
H&R Block offers free tax software with paid add-ons for technical support, the ability to review your full T1 General before you file, and more. The H&R Block online tax software is accessed through your browser.
Remember, while it is currently 2019 you are filing your 2018 taxes, so the programs you use will be for 2018 (the tax year you are filing for); there won’t be a StudioTax 2019 until next year!
Doing your taxes is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be stressful and expensive. This year, consider taking advantage of one of the free income tax software programs for 2019. They just might be the answer you have been looking for to save you both time and money.
Do you use free income tax software? Please share your experience and recommendations in our forum.