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2016 taxes and related software
January 11, 2017
9:37 am
JenE
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I haven't done my own tax return in years but would like to save the $175 that our accountant charges for our two returns. Can anyone recommend software that is simple and straightforward to use. I see that Studio Tax is offered free. I did try using ufile a couple of years ago but found it confusing. Any comments?

January 11, 2017
10:10 am
rqs
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It all depends on how complex your returns are. I am a retired CA/CPA and was using Ufile for many years. There were some situations that even UFile had difficulty handling, I am now using Studio Tax and, while the price is right, it is not quite as slick as Ufile. But for anyone with a modicum of tax understanding, you should try Studio Tax.

January 11, 2017
1:45 pm
Koogie
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+1 I used Studio Tax for some years and liked it a lot. There is also TaxFreeWay.
If you are comfortable/knowledgeable with your own taxes or have a relatively simple T4 based situation, it is great.

I had to stop doing my own taxes due to their complexity (we have a holdco). But I did my own taxes from age 18 to 42. For the first 12 or so years with the paper returns... do they even exist anymore ?

January 11, 2017
3:50 pm
AltaRed
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I use both Studio Tax and UFile. UFile is more user friendly with the 'interview' process for those that need to be asked the questions to ensure they have not forgotten anything (such as the T1135 for those with foreign holdings over $100k CAD equivalent).

I have not used Studio Tax for pension splitting opportunities so don't know if/how it works for that aspect. UFile iterates for the best result.

I agree Studio Tax is best suited for those that know their way around a tax return and/or for less complex filings.

January 11, 2017
7:24 pm
Doug
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Over the years, we've migrated from QuickTax (now TurboTax), TaxWiz (acquired by Intuit, makers of TurboTax, and renamed TurboTax Basic with functionality removed) that was actually my favourite tax software, Ufile, StudioTax and now SimpleTax. We migrated as the companies consistently refused to offer pricing at the $19.99 price point for at least eight (8) returns for all personal income tax situations (and unlimited for low income tax situations) so, as prices were raised, we migrated to the next one. Ufile remains at $19.99 but they've been increasing the price "by stealth," in that what was once 8 free returns included is now 4 (though sometimes they offer a bonus two (2) free returns). A couple years ago, I thought, "screw it, I'm trying out H&R Block Tax Software, which is free," but didn't bother making a donation for it as I never filed with it as it was clunky/had errors. It may be better now, I'm not sure. We ended up using GenuTax Standard and made a $20 donation, which is nicer than StudioTax but a bit clunky. ๐Ÿ™‚

We've now made the switch to SimpleTax. Online, easy-to-use web-based and intuitive interface and has an interview process. It's free but a donation is recommended so we donate $20 per year. Highly recommend it and it will save your tax returns online if you wish! Only downside, really, is the printed PDF of your tax return is "plain vanilla" CRA forms plus a SimpleTax cover page - no custom informational pages like some others. ๐Ÿ™‚

Why CRA doesn't give us a non-refundable tax credit for personal tax software, which would amount to only a $3.00 cost to the public treasury, assuming 15% non-refundable tax credit rate on a $20 cost, I don't know. Seems silly as we're actually saving them time and money! ๐Ÿ™‚

Or, better yet, do what Norway does and have the CRA automatically prepare our income tax return and tell us what we owe/get back!

Cheers,
Doug

January 11, 2017
8:34 pm
AltaRed
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Really can't have CRA do our tax returns. There are too many unknowns that only the taxpayer can know, e.g. foreign domiciled income such as sale of a snowbird property, US domciled bank and brokerage accounts, etc, etc. There would have to be a wholesale change in the tax code AND things like the US/Cdn tax treaty for that to work, investment property income and expenses, etc. Just not a viable option.

Surely 20-30 minutes of one's time for simple tax returns is not an onerous burden, and perhaps an afternoon for more complext returns having business income, etc.

January 14, 2017
4:01 pm
Norman1
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AltaRed said
Really can't have CRA do our tax returns. There are too many unknowns that only the taxpayer can know, e.g. foreign domiciled income such as sale of a snowbird property, US domciled bank and brokerage accounts, etc, etc. There would have to be a wholesale change in the tax code AND things like the US/Cdn tax treaty for that to work, investment property income and expenses, etc. Just not a viable option.

โ€ฆย 

I agree.

There isn't always just one possible return that one can file. CRA may be able to automatically file some allowable return. But, it may not be the best one for the taxpayer.

I may have a year with a net capital loss. CRA wouldn't know what would be better for me. I could carry the loss forward to a future year when I have a net capital gain and am in a higher tax bracket. I could also carry the loss back and apply it against capital gains in previous three years.

Same with RRSP contributions. CRA knows how much I've made in contributions. But, CRA won't know if it would be better for me to claim the full RRSP contribution deduction now or claim some of it now and claim the rest in future years.

January 26, 2017
8:24 pm
Yas
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I do mine using 3 softwares just to make sure I am not missing anything. Yes all free and time consuming but a good weekend project.

January 27, 2017
6:03 am
JenE
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Thanks all. I'll give it a go.

January 27, 2017
2:26 pm
deepcman
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Yas
Care to list the 3 softwares you use. Some may like to give them a go.
Thanks

January 27, 2017
5:01 pm
Bill
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Here's a link to CRA's page re certified programs for netfile purposes, including the free ones - note it indicates it's for 2016 though the details show only up to 2015.
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/netfi.....esoftware/

January 27, 2017
7:45 pm
2of3aintbad
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I've used UFile and Studio Tax (because it comes out earlier). UFile keeps changing the user interface, and not for the better. With a bulky section on the left and the top, there is very little data displayed without scrolling.

This year Studio Tax is not correctly auto-filling Schedule 7 from the data entered in a pop-up ! I suppose this will be fixed before NetFile certification, but it is a nuisance.

January 28, 2017
11:35 am
SavingIsGood
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TurboTax forever... I don't want to waste time with other programs. Plus it is free (for me)...

March 12, 2017
12:25 pm
Winnie
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CRA online services, including electronic filing, are unavailable from March 10, 2017:

Notice โ€“ Service temporarily unavailable

Ensuring that your personal information is not compromised is a priority for us.

Upon becoming aware of an internet vulnerability that affects some computer servers used by websites worldwide, we took down our online services, including electronic filing, and are taking steps to ensure that all information and systems remain safe.

At this time, we are not aware that any personal information has been affected; however, we continue to assess and remedy the situation.

You can still complete your tax forms, but will have to wait before filing.

We are working to bring our online services back up as soon as possible. Updates will be โ€Žposted as they become available.

Thank you for your patience.

March 12, 2017
2:31 pm
Doug
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JenE said
I haven't done my own tax return in years but would like to save the $175 that our accountant charges for our two returns. Can anyone recommend software that is simple and straightforward to use. I see that Studio Tax is offered free. I did try using ufile a couple of years ago but found it confusing. Any comments?ย ย 

SimpleTax for the win - hands down. And, to help them grow, I always donate except we make one donation as a family, not per tax return in the household. It was a bit unusual to switch from desktop-based software to online-based ones but I definitely like it the best and they can store your previous year's tax return (if you wish). We typically donate what we would've paid for the cheapest (or average, really) of the "paid" desktop-based tax software packages, about $20 CAD for the household but what I like is they don't limit you to "number of returns" like Ufile or TurboTax.

Haven't really used StudioTax but found it somewhat "buggy," not major bugs mind you but just didn't like the interface. For "desktop"-based packages, I've used GenuTax one year and it's "not bad" so would rank it #3.

In the "runner up"/#2 spot, I'd go with TurboTax Free, basically TurboTax Free Forms - they still check your return for errors but have a slick online or software-based UI that lets you easily add tax forms and you really don't even need the interview. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers,
Doug

March 12, 2017
2:33 pm
Doug
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LOL, sorry thought this was a new thread and replied again to the OP's post, not realizing I'd already replied. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheers,
Doug

March 12, 2017
3:45 pm
jnelson
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Add me to the list of Studio Tax fans. Use TurboTax for T2s, it's the same-ish product, at a much higher price.

March 12, 2017
6:28 pm
Deb
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Love StudioTax! Have used it for the past several years for both self and family members.
But I wonder when we will be able to submit this year?
I remember a similar CRA security issue a few years ago, that one involving the Heartbleed bug, which also delayed filing.

March 12, 2017
8:13 pm
Deb
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CRA services back up online again, as of tonight.

March 13, 2017
1:44 am
Loonie
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On the TV news, they said the site had been down for 2 days, I think. Since nobody really WANTS to deal with CRA, this is not a really big deal, especially on the weekend. And they say they are doing it to protect us and our information. Fine.

This made me think about the banks and credit cards, which are also vulnerable. Would any bank actually voluntarily shut down for 2 days (or more) while they sorted out our personal security? Not very likely as this would cause all kinds of chaos. Would bitcoin enjoy a sudden dramatic rise in value? Would the FIs rather take the risks, carry on, and hope for the best? It makes one wonder...

Better stash some cash, just in case.

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