Business-like, isn't he?



Business in Vancouver logo

    Software can help temper the federal taxman's bite

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2004

    Business in Vancouver March 16-22, 2004 Issue 751

    The High Tech Office

     No surprise, but tax time is here again. And many Canadians are going to look for software to file their returns, either purchasing some to load onto their personal computer, or increasingly, file online. Producers of other lines of software are, I'm sure, jealous of the tax software vendors, blessed with customers who have to purchase new copies of their product each year.

     The players are pretty much the same as last year: Intuit Canada offering market-leader QuickTax ( as well as its main competitor, TaxWiz ($24.95 on CD or downloaded:  GriffTax ( offers a Classic version ($30-45) for Mac users, and a so-called Simple version ($12-25) for Windows users. (No jokes, please!) UFile ( offers a $13 online version or a $30 CD version sold only at Future Shop/Best Buy. All of the various online versions are free to low-income tax-filers. And all the various CD-based versions allow users to either print out and mail in a return or connect directly to CCRA to Netfile a return online.

     I didn't list a price for QuickTax, because this tax season there are various QuickTax versions, following a strategy that Intuit has been implementing with other products such as its small business-oriented QuickBooks. As in previous years, there's the Standard edition ($40). This year, it can be installed on up to two computers, following complaints last year that its activation features made it impossible for users to install it on one system to work on a return then (for example) on a different system to print out a good copy. It can be used for up to six returns, as well as an unlimited number of returns for family members with incomes under $25,000. Additional returns can be purchased from Intuit starting at $5 each.

     New this year are three custom editions, offering additional specialized features, including planning guides, tips and videos. A Small Business Custom Edition is aimed at sole proprietors or partnerships, handling both personal and small business taxes, and including a small business expense tracker.

     A Retirement Planning Custom Edition targets retired users or those planning to retire within the next 15 years. Along with the standard edition tax tools, it includes a retirement income planner and help optimizing CPP income, medical expenses and more.

     A custom edition for investors includes a stock trade tracker, RRSP Wizard, and other tools to optimize investment-related tax returns.

     All three are included on a single $60 CD, but users can only install the single Custom Edition of their choice. Users wanting to access the features of more than one custom edition are better off purchasing the $80 Platinum edition; this version allows users to mix and match, picking from the whole range of QuickTax tips and tools.

     Intuit is also offering a new product: Refund Rescue, which examines your 2002 tax return, recalculating it looking for missed deductions and printing out an adjustment request as required. It's priced at about $10, and Intuit promises users that if it doesn't find you at least the purchase price in missed tax refunds, the company will send you a $9.95 certificate towards the purchase of QuickTax for the 2003 tax year.

     While Intuit's tax products do a nice job of simulating the questions and answers of an interview with a specialist, as always, users with complex tax returns will probably be best served by consulting a tax professional. 

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan