TurboTax Full Service Self Employed Review

This year is going to be one of the strangest and (potentially) most complicated years for tax filing. Jobs were lost and hours cut during the pandemic. The federal government responded by introducing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), among a host of other measures to protect workers and the economy. Furthermore, many entrepreneurial-minded Canadians turned to side hustles and the gig economy to earn more income.

CERB payments are taxable, but taxes were not withheld at the source. Eligibility for self-employed individuals was not clear from the onset, and the CRA has sent out letters asking to confirm eligibility or risk having to pay back benefits.

All of this to say that many Canadians are nervous about filing taxes for the 2020 year. Self-employed individuals, in particular, need assurance to help understand all of the tax deductions and credits that are available to them.

Think of the deduction for home office expenses. Many of us found ourselves unexpectedly working from home, setting up shop in our kitchen, living room, or bedroom. Because of this, the CRA announced it had simplified the way employees can claim home office expenses on their tax return for the 2020 tax year.

Navigating your way through all of the eligible tax credits and deductions can be painful on your own. That’s why tax services like TurboTax are essential for tax filers – especially the self-employed – to find every available deduction and maximize your return, giving you a little lift when you need it most.

I’m amazed at how intuitive these programs have become. Not just the service, but TurboTax has an entire team of tax experts with an average of 10 years of experience at the ready to answer your questions in real time and can even fill and file your return for you.

TurboTax is NETFILE certified and can guarantee you’ll get your biggest refund. NETFILE is the CRA’s online filing service and it allows you to electronically submit your tax return directly to the CRA from your computer.

Before I get into the features of the TurboTax Full Service Self-Employed product, I have a confession to make. Ten years ago, I hired an accountant to incorporate our online business and to figure out the most tax efficient way to treat our business income, retained earnings, and how to withdraw money from the corporation when needed.

I figured once the corporation was set up and we were pointed in the right direction, I would go back to filing my own taxes, both personal and small business.

What I (surprisingly) discovered was that I found great value in paying for tax advice and having a professional take care of our tax filings. That’s right, a personal finance expert pays someone else to do his taxes! Here’s why:

Our situation is more complicated than most. When I worked a full-time job, we were able to stream dividends to my stay-at-home wife to help accelerate our savings goals. Since then, we created a meaningful role for my wife which helped grow the business and stay on-side of the new TOSI (tax on split income) rules. I opened a corporate investment account to invest our retained earnings. Finally, after I quit my day job, we needed advice on whether to pay ourselves a salary or continue to pay dividends.

Your situation might not be overly complicated, but you can still benefit from having sound advice from a tax expert to help make this year’s tax season less stressful than it has to be.

This speaks to the need to have a tax expert on your side. Thankfully, TurboTax continues to make tax filing easy for all Canadians, even self-employed individuals, with their Self-Employed suite of products.

I got to test-drive TurboTax Live Full Service Self-Employed earlier this month to see how TurboTax gives a little lift to self-employed tax filers.

TurboTax Self Employed

I empathize with small business owners and self-employed Canadians who have more complicated tax situations than simply submitting a T4 along with an RRSP contribution. It’s not easy to file your own taxes and know (with confidence) that you’re claiming all of the expenses and getting all of the deductions that apply to you.

And I get it. Not everyone can afford to (or will even have the desire to) pay an accountant to file their tax return and get tax advice every year. But you’re not alone.

TurboTax Self-Employed offers three ways for self-employed individuals to file their taxes.

  1. Self-Employed (do it yourself) – You complete your own return, and TurboTax will guide you through the process.
  2. Assist & Review Self-Employed – Get tax advice and a final review of your return from an expert.        
  3. Full Service Self-Employed – TurboTax Live Experts can prepare, optimize, and file your taxes for you.

TurboTax Full Service

Seasoned self-employed individuals with a good understanding of their expenses and deductions can file confidently on their own with TurboTax Self-Employed.

Newly self-employed individuals, or those with more complicated situations, might want the assurance of TurboTax Assist & Review Self-Employed. You’ll get access to a team of experts      who will listen to and understand your unique situation, answer your questions, give you unlimited tax advice, and, of course, give you the little lift of the best possible tax outcome when you file.

For TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Assist & Review Self-Employed, a business interview guides you through filing your self-employed income and expenses and automatically finds relevant deductions.

TurboTax Self-Employed Full Service

Those looking to free up more time might want to hand off their taxes to a TurboTax Live Full Service Self-Employed tax expert. I tested out this product and came away impressed with the seamless, intuitive, and time-saving process.

Get started by signing up and completing your profile and granting TurboTax authorization with the CRA. Your TurboTax tax expert will get your documents directly from the CRA and start working on your return. They’ll make sure you get every deduction and notify you when it’s ready for a joint review.

If you’re busy like me, you’ll appreciate that you can schedule time to connect with a tax expert to go through and review your return over the phone at a time that suits you. I was able to connect with my assigned expert, Claire, immediately, but there is an option to schedule a call at your convenience. The call is done through a one-way video call (you can see them, but they can’t see you) and from there, your tax return is filed online to the CRA by a tax expert, and you get a notification that it’s been submitted.

TurboTax Live Expert

In the documents section I was able to upload all of my relevant files, download anything that Claire sent me to fill out, and upload it again as requested.

Any communication with your tax expert is done through the ‘Tax Experts’ tab. Enter your questions here and your tax expert will respond. The messaging system will keep track of your communication history and you will be notified by email when your expert replies.

Although you could get it all done in a day, the entire process took a few days for me due to some back-and-forth messaging and uploading of files. Email notifications were an efficient way to keep the process moving along. It was really no different than going back and forth with an accountant – and I did it all from my living room.

What makes TurboTax Self-Employed Full Service different?

Full-service customers can get year-round tax advice, tailored for their unique tax situation. Audit Defence puts a tax expert in your corner, who will represent you, defend you, and handle all correspondence with the CRA on your behalf.

You get this service as a part of your purchase, so you know someone has your back, even after they’ve submitted your tax return.

Finally, at $199.99 per return, you’re paying a fraction of the cost of using an accountant (start for free, only pay when you file). You’ll still get your taxes filed by a real tax expert who will make sure you get back every dollar you deserve. And you’ll save yourself a boatload of time.

Final Thoughts

With tax season right around the corner, many Canadians are understandably nervous about filing this year. For self-employed individuals, it can be painful trying to navigate your way through all of the various expenses, credits, and deductions available to you – especially if you’re a new self-employed tax filer or if your situation changed last year due to the pandemic.

TurboTax Self-Employed has three options for self-employed tax filers to choose from to ensure they get the biggest tax refund possible by taking advantage of all available deductions and credits. In these uncertain times, these are the little lifts we all need.

Save time, save money, and file your self-employment taxes with confidence by getting started with TurboTax Self Employed.

TurboTax has kindly provided me with four unique (and FREE) product codes to try any of the three TurboTax Self-Employed products. Leave a comment below to enter to win a free product code and try out the service for yourself this tax season.

This post was sponsored by TurboTax Canada. All opinions and experiences are my own.

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19 Comments

  1. Stephen Butcher on February 9, 2021 at 6:06 am

    Wife and I are both self employed. I do both Turbo and Simple tax each year and file which gives me the best tax rate and it’s usually Simple Tax.

  2. Braden Bulmer on February 9, 2021 at 8:03 am

    I have always wondered about using the full service option. Perhaps this is the perfect year to try it!

  3. Bob Wen on February 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

    After 20+ years of preparing and filing my own taxes, this year will be the first time that I’ll be requiring advice. Your feedback on the TurboTax service is very timely. Thank you

    I don’t run a small business at the moment so I’m not requesting a code, however if you don’t find enough small business owners, I’d be happy to try out the service on my personal and somewhat complex tax situation.

  4. Herb on February 9, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Just got notified my accountant is retiring this year. Perfect timing!

  5. Steve Oliver on February 9, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I have a problem with the advice. Its abou t self aemployed. Many people, such as employed sales reps, have home office expenses, storage expenses etc. We might need something more focused on the home office expenses..ie the portion of insurance premiums, utilties, furniture we can use for a tax deduction. We have to submit a T2200 as well.

    Is this self employed Turbo tax for the employed person with home office expenses?

    I am sure much of its advice is similar but its not actually capturing that I am employed.

  6. Dana on February 9, 2021 at 8:58 am

    I’ve used Turbo Tax for years and would love to take advantage of some guidance this year, as I sold a rental property (which used to be my principal residence), and purchased another rental.

  7. Jamese on February 9, 2021 at 9:17 am

    I’d love to try this!

  8. Pam on February 9, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I finally broke down last year and hired an accountant. My taxes are not super complicated but getting more so and wanted to actually speak to someone about my situation. I now have to pay taxes quarterly but I don’t really understand the rules about how it is all calculated so I was grateful to get some advice. Going to stick with that this year as on top of that I now have a rental property.

    However, I had used turbotax for YEARS before just the simple version was enough for me.

  9. Louie M on February 9, 2021 at 9:41 am

    I have always done my own taxes and have used TurboTax and all of its previous forms, going back to the days that it was called Cantax, so 30+ years. It has evolved with the times and I find it to be completely intuitive. I use it to complete returns that includes a sole proprietorship, rental income, and minor employment income for a married couple. I would love to try out the full service option.

  10. Ted L on February 9, 2021 at 10:18 am

    I’ve been using Studio Tax for my personal taxes for many many years. As far as I’m concerned it’s the best option. Prior to using Studio Tax, I used HomeTax with a couple of years of QuickTax in between. The price of QuickTax got me to look at other options. Studio Tax was the best.
    I’ve been self-employed for the past six years and still do my own personal taxes in Studio Tax. I use an accountant to do my business tax return and filing.
    By the way, I’ve always done my own personal taxes and have been pretty successful with it. Keep on top of the changes, ask questions, read the guides.

  11. John on February 9, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Does TurboTax share its customers’ information with outside interests?

    A recent commentary in the Globe and Mail says many digital tax return companies do.

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-canadas-tax-return-system-jeopardizes-the-privacy-of-millions-of/#comments

  12. Bassel on February 9, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I used Turbo tax while doung some UBER it is fantastic

  13. Tarek E on February 9, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    As always, great article Robb. Every year when filing my taxes I consider paying more for TurboTax’s full-service, but then I decide not to. I now understand the value this service offers, thanks for sharing your review.

    • Bruce on February 10, 2021 at 5:13 pm

      I have run a small part time business for years and always have done my own tax filings manually, yes, paper documents, so would like to try a self employed software program. Thanks for the review.

  14. Lindsay on February 9, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    My tax situation got more complicated with the purchase of a second home! I’d love to use this service!

  15. Tricia on February 9, 2021 at 6:20 pm

    Would love to try out the full service option…much cheaper than last years accountant cost..

  16. Ashley on February 9, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    I am self employed and with everything that happened last year, am not looking forward to more complicated tax filing …Thank you for the article and advice. I am interested to try out this product!

  17. Rob Spence on February 11, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    I am interested in any opportunity that allows my partner and I a chance to save a few dollars while also saving me time. Sounds like a win/win.

  18. Sue on February 13, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Can you clarify the use of turbotax self employed options if your business is incorporated?

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