continue to multiply
Zisman (c) 2002 First published in Business
in Vancouver , Issue #698 March 11-17, 2003 High Tech
brings longer days,
daffodils, and tax returns. Packages of tax software packages are
up in office supply stores, supermarkets and even convenience
year, some 440,000 copies
of Canadian personal tax-software programs were sold. Still, fewer than
40 per cent of the 2001 returns were filed electronically either from
tax preparers or from home software packages.
used products are QuickTax
($30) and TaxWiz ($25).
Last November, Intuit Canada, owner
of QuickTax, purchased TaxWiz. TaxWiz is still
as a separate product and Intuit has said that it intends to offer it
year as well.
tax software has
a pretty simple mandate: help you enter the appropriate information to
file an accurate tax return. Intuit, however, is hoping that QuickTax
will start using its software year-round, not just at tax time. They've
produced custom editions aimed at investors, small-business owners
people with a salaried job and some business income on the side) and
nearing or in retirement ($60 each). These versions differ in the
the software pops up as you enter data, suggesting ways to optimize
return. Planning tools help forecast future income, which may impact
year's return. Each custom edition includes a set of third-party
and videos. People may fall into multiple categories; a platinum
($80) combines all three custom editions. Mac users can buy a $50
of QuickTax, but custom editions are Windows-only.
sees its mandate as
helping beginners to file relatively simple returns quickly. It uses an
interview format to help users enter the appropriate information.
to the online version is bundled with Taxes for Canadians for
2003 book, and the standard version of TaxWiz uses the familiar For
Dummies character for its help pop-ups.
QuickTax and TaxWiz
limit users to six returns. Users needing additional returns can
them without needing to buy another copy of the software. Returns for
members earning under $25,000 can be entered without counting towards
both products offer
online returns without buying a copy of the software. QuickTaxWeb (www.quicktaxweb.ca)
costs $20 for a single return or $25 for a couple. QuickTaxWeb has
a challenge -- it guarantees users will qualify for a tax refund or
is no charge. TaxWiz offers individual online returns (www.taxwiz.ca)
for $13 or $17 for a couple. If the net household income is under
$20,000, there is no charge for either QuickTaxWeb or TaxWiz-online.
services are PC and Mac-friendly.
year, Intuit Canada
added a "product activation" feature to QuickTax. While the program can
be loaded onto multiple computers, actual returns can only be printed
e-filed from the computer where it was originally installed. A similar
feature added this year to Intuit's U.S. tax package, TurboTax,
has led to widespread complaints. Unlike the American version of
activation, QuickTax's made-in-Canada version can be easily uninstalled
and makes no low-level changes to your hard drive. U.S. and Canadian
don't use "spyware" and do not report on users' computers or online
QuickTax and TaxWiz
account for the bulk of the Canadian personal tax return market, they
the only players. GriffTax
offers a full-featured ($40) Mac version. GriffTax Simple is a free
PC or Mac users are charged $5 when they file a return.
is an online-only and PC-only program, with returns starting at $13.
also offers printed returns for the 2000 and 2001 tax-years. You can
netfile this year's return.
if filing online,
be sure to print out and save a copy of your return and plan on keeping
it for at least seven years.)