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
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
offering market-leader QuickTax (www.quicktax.ca) as well as its main
competitor, TaxWiz ($24.95 on CD or downloaded:
www.taxwiz.ca). GriffTax (www.grifftax.ca) offers a Classic
version ($30-45) for Mac users, and a so-called Simple version ($12-25)
for Windows users. (No jokes, please!) UFile (www.ufile.ca) 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
I didn't list a price for QuickTax, because this tax season
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
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.