I have filed my family’s tax returns electronically ever since the introduction of Quick Tax several years ago.  The first couple of years were a bit glitchy, but they have improved the software every year.  This year Quick Tax re-branded to TurboTax Canada and I decided to try their newly introduced online version.

TurboTax Online: Getting Started

TurboTax Online is even easier to use than ever.  I was not able to import my data from last year as I had done in previous years, but it was just a matter of re-entering my name, address and other personal data, so it wasn’t a big deal.  If you have other carry-forward entries I would suggest keeping last year’s return beside you for reference.

TurboTax Online gives you the option of selecting one of three versions – Basic (most commonly used), Premium (for more advanced investment transactions and rental properties) and Home and Business.  I chose the Basic version.

When I entered investment income it tried to upgrade me to the Premium version.  I declined as I have always found the Basic version to be sufficient for my needs.  Note that if you do decide to switch, you will not be allowed to go back.

If this is your first time completing a tax return, electronically or otherwise, begin with the tutorial, which takes you through the entire process.  The EasyStep interview asks questions designed to assist you in entering your T-slips and other information to best process your return and double-checks everything for accuracy.

User Friendly Instructions

This version is very user friendly with easy step-by-step instructions that guide you through the return.  I have done tax returns for years and know how and where to enter my figures so I found it a bit tedious pressing “continue” all the time (in fact my husband, hearing all the clicking, thought I was playing a game!).

However, for newbies, it’s important to read all the information to be accurate.  It’s easy to navigate back and forth between screens, and there’s lots of help and advice available from hints, “Tina” the virtual agent, and live support through email or phone.

There is an optional “Audit Defense” available for $39.99, that provides 3rd party representation by a tax specialist in case you are audited by the CRA, but if you carefully and accurately enter all your information this shouldn’t be necessary for most people.

Ready To File

Once you have completed your “free” return, if you are satisfied with the result you will be asked for your credit card information for payment.  Then all you have to do is NETFILE (follow the instructions given) and you’re done.

TurboTax Online uses the same level of online security that major Canadian banks use and securely saves your return until next year.  You can download your return in a pdf format for your records.  I received emails immediately after with my receipt for payment and my user ID confirmation for next year.

I found this version to be easy and fast.  I did a joint return in less than 30 minutes.  I even get a tax refund so I guess I should start taking my own advice about reducing taxes paid at the source.

My only beef is with the price.  My joint return would have cost $16.99 each plus GST (I had a free coupon).  That’s fine if you only have one return to file, but you can purchase a CD version that allows you to do 8 returns (Basic) for $29.99 in many retail stores, and I even found it at Staples online for $19.99.

With no hard copy to produce I would expect tax filing online to be less expensive.

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