It’s tax season and taxes are due very soon in Canada. Here are some of the best tax filing software in Canada. Why are they the best? Mainly because most of these tax filing programs are free.
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When are taxes Due in Canada?
Personal tax returns for our friend the Canada Revenue Agency are due by May 2, 2022 for the 2021 tax year.
You have one week from today if you haven’t started yet!
You may wonder why May because we are accustomed to end of April usually for our tax returns. This is because the usual April 30 deadline lands on a Saturday. If you’re looking to save some money on your tax return, here are some free (or cheap) tax filing software in Canada for the 2021 tax year.
If you owe money to the CRA, make sure you pay a few days before April 30 2022 to avoid late fees or penalties.
All of these programs use NETFILE to file your tax return electronically and is considered for personal use only (or for helping out your family and friends with their tax return).
This is in contrast to EFILE which is used by professional accountants for business purposes.
Here is a complete list of Canada Revenue Agency certified tax software where you can file your taxes online.
What is the earliest date that you could have filed your taxes?
February 21, 2022 is the earliest date that you can file your income taxes for the 2021 tax year.
Free Tax Filing Software in Canada
Gone are the days of the paper and pencil tax return booklets. Everyone is going online these days and submitting their tax returns to the Canada Revenue Agency using NETFILE with ease.
Bless these kind souls for using their software development talent to create free tax return programs in Canada, especially when you are pouring all your time into reporting your information for the T1135 form.
Here are the free downloadable tax filing software in Canada for your 2021 tax return. Grab a free Starbucks coffee and peruse away!
StudioTax is proudly made in Canada and has been in existence since 2004. StudioTax is a free software download for tax returns before 2019. It is a “desktop” tax software, meaning your information stays on your computer, and isn’t somewhere in a “Cloud” somewhere. However, starting for the 2020 tax season, StudioTax now charges a $15.00 per license before printing or filing your returns with Netfile which allows you to do 20 returns.
It’s pretty ‘no frills’ and was created by a few software development professionals from Ottawa.
The great thing about StudioTax is that it has the capability of filing very complicated tax returns, like for self-employed individuals, principal residence ACB and exemption, people who have rental income from a laneway house for example, or tax efficient investments, Canadian dividends, even.
It is still completely free (don’t need to pay the $15.00 license) for tax filers in Northern Canada (Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut) and for those who have total income of less than $20,000.
The license fee is payable by online payment, e-Transfer, or personal cheque. You can do up to 20 returns as per the CRA requirement.
Amazingly, they even have a StudioTax iOS App where you can do your taxes on your… phone!
GenuTax is a software development company created by GenuSource Consulting and is based out of Ontario, Canada.
GenuTax is a downloadable tax return program. It also handles most tax preparation situations, including capital gains, rental income, self-employment. Customer support is only provided by email (in order to keep costs low/ zero cost).
Like the other tax programs in Canada listed here, GenuTax is also free, but there’s a button on the home page for donations if you wish to contribute.
The unique feature of GenuTax is that it takes you through a step-by-step interview that takes you through your tax situation for each year, leaving no stone left unturned for any tax deductions or credits that you are able to claim.
There’s a customer support email and it can take up to 48 hours for a response.
The software update for GenuTax will be available for download on February 21, 2022. Here are a list of support forms that GenuTax is able to do.
If you are a resident in Quebec, only the federal tax return can be completed with GenuTax and does not support the Quebec Income Tax Return.
You can file with NETFILE through GenuTax but you can also print out your return and mail it manually too, all the personal information stays on your computer with GenuTax.
Simpletax (Wealthsimple Tax)
SimpleTax is online only, your information does not stay on your computer.
With Wealthsimple Tax, it is still free, and a “pay what you want” model. You pay what you feel the Wealthsimple Tax is worth, even if you want to pay $0.
There is also a maximum refund guarantee, where you can get your money back for your tax return fees if you get a better tax refund with another tax software/ website.
Their WealthsimpleTax Income Tax Calculator is an excellent tool if you want to have a quick and dirty estimate of your federal and provincial taxes payable and taxes owed.
I use it to estimate a little on how the how dividends are taxed in Canada.
Here’s what the WealthsimpleTax Income Tax Calculator looks like:
With Wealthsimple Tax, you’ll get the Wealthsimple experience of clean graphics, easy to use navigation, and an aesthetic overall experience.
Over 1 million Canadians use Wealthsimple Tax.
Taxman calls himself the “Poor Man’s Accountant” and probably has the most personality out of the whole bunch of free tax return programs in Canada. He’s based out of Victoria, British Columbia.
With Taxman, he provides T1 General software for all Canadian Residents except his software is not NETFILE capable and it is not meant for Quebec residents. This means that you cannot file your income taxes online, you will have to mail it the old fashioned way.
You might think that this will be tedious, but it’s basically the paper form but ‘souped up’ and all you have to do is enter the numbers and the calculations are done for you.
You will have to go to your local post office and pick up a copy of the T1 General Guide and forms, but you’ll have everything all calculated so all you’ll be doing is inputting the numbers in a very neat way with no eraser marks.
Downloading the tax software is easy and you can download it from Amazon Drive.
This software is completely free, and Taxman humbly accepts donations via e-Transfer or via cheque. He also provides free tax advice as long as his business is still up and running, if you donate.
Taxman is not online and your information cannot be filed via NETFILE, the information stays on your desktop until you print it out.
AdvTax is another free Canada tax software. It is a little archaic looking and even more ‘no frills’ compared to StudioTax, but it claims to be one of the fastest available. It states that almost anyone can complete their tax return within 5 minutes, and if you are a family, you can complete your tax return in 10 minutes!
They even break down exactly how long it will take you to complete your tax return by the second:
They have a nice page illustrating what tax deductions and claims you might be missing when you are filling out your tax return.
Another unique aspect of AdvTax is that it supports multiple languages, including French, English, and Chinese. You can also complete your tax return with your phone or tablet through Advtax. Personally I wouldn’t do it on my iPhone 8, I can barely see words on my iPhone.
Interestingly, AdvTax is both EFILE and NETFILE certified, but the EFILE is only up to the 2019 tax year.
H&R Block is probably the most ‘well known’ of the bunch, and the one you would think of when you think of taxes.
H&R Block’s tax software is free, but for added support, they charge $19.99 per return or $44.99 per return for the highest level of support and protection against your worst nightmare as a tax filer, an audit.
To use the H&R Block Tax Return for free, you will have to create an account. H&R Block is similar to SimpleTax in that it is done online and your information is saved online.
Even if you didn’t file with H&R Block last year, they make it simple for you to gather previous year’s information (or start fresh) for your tax return.
H&R Block is online only and is not a downloadable software on your computer.
Throughout the free tax return filing process, you may be prompted by H&R block to sign up for the premium version or paid version.
Free Tax Filing Software in Canada Summary
There are a number of tax return programs that you can download for free, or for a small fee, or a small donation in Canada, including:
- H&R Block
- Taxman (though this is not NETFILE certified)
Other notable mentions of free or ‘pay what you want’ tax software include CloudTax, TurboTax Free, and TaxTron.
As with all of these, 20 returns can be filed via NETFILE per computer according to Canada Revenue Agency regulations.
One thing to note is that once you download software, you are kind of stuck continuing to use that same tax software in order to carry over all the previous year’s tax information (for example, capital gains or losses and auto-populating your data) for ease of tax preparation purposes.
Which Free Tax Software in Canada is Right for Me?
If you’re hesitant about sharing your information (like for example, your Social Insurance Number), using something like Taxman, StudioTax, or GenuTax would be a good option.
If you don’t care about your personal data being stored in a cloud and being stored online, and want something simple to use, aesthetic to use and straight forward, SimpleTax is a very popular free option.
If your return is basic and simple, you probably don’t need to pay for something like StudioTax.
My taxes are prepared with StudioTax and even though this year it isn’t free any more to download the software, $15 is a reasonable amount to pay for peace of mind knowing that my data isn’t being mined and for ease of use (carrying over previous year’s information).
Personally I also like to keep my tax information stored on my hard drive, so I have more control over it and can review my tax return for previous years when I want, without have to log in and sift through previous year’s information online (because what if they one day charge you for accessing your previous year’s information? Who knows).
Speaking of taxes, here are some blogging tax deductions in Canada.
Here’s a look at whether paying your CRA taxes with a credit card makes sense.
What do you use to file your taxes?
Any favourites of these tax filing software in Canada that you have?
Are you usually a procrastinator when it comes to your taxes or do you like to get them done early?
GYM is a 40 something millennial writing about personal finance since 2009 and interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for a free dividend yield spreadsheet and the free Young Money Bootcamp PDF.