Software can help reduce
annual stress of tax time
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
20-26, 2007; issue 908
High Tech Office column;
As I write this, the Canada Revenue Agency has temporarily shut down
its various online tax return systems: Netfile, Telefile and eFile.
According to CRA, the problem is not due to hackers or computer viruses
and has been traced to software maintenance conducted on March 4. The
system should be back up and running any day now. So by the time
you’re reading this, it should be business as usual as we
down to this year’s deadline.
Estimates are that about half of all Canadian returns are filed
electronically, many making use of personal tax software. And while
consumers can happily continue using, say, Microsoft Office 2000 for
years, blithely ignoring newer product releases, they need a new
version of tax software for each year’s returns.
UFile, produced for 20 years by Montreal-based Dr Tax Software
available in boxed standard edition ($20) and plus edition ($30) and
online (at www.ufile.ca
starting at $16 (free to students). The plus version offers free phone
support, the ability to prepare up to 12 returns (versus six with the
standard version) and a new retirement planner. The retirement feature
automatically draws on age and income information entered into the tax
return and provides estimates of retirement capital.
QuickTax from Intuit
is also available in both boxed and online
editions. In addition, the desktop version can be downloaded from http://turbotax.intuit.ca/tax-software/index.jsp
QuickTax is available in a range of versions for both personal and
business returns. All promise to help maximize deductions and optimize
RRSP and RESP contributions. QuickTax Web costs $20 for a single
return; the standard boxed edition ($40) can be used for up to five
returns. The $60 platinum edition keeps that limit on returns but adds
investment and retirement planning and investment tracking. The $100
Quicken suite bundles Intuit’s Quicken personal and home
finance software with a copy of QuickTax platinum.
The $60 QuickTax business unincorporated edition can be used for only
two returns, but offers additional features to optimize business
expenses and deductions and to help track expenses and manage
home-based business finances.
The $100 business incorporated edition can only be used for a single
return but allows users to file the T2 tax return required of
The desktop editions of both UFile and QuickTax can be used to prepare
an unlimited number of returns for people with less than $25,000 net
QuickTaxWeb is free for people with gross household income of $20,000
or less; UFile’s online version is free for people with the
$25,000 limit as its boxed versions.
Returns produced with both UFile and QuickTax can be printed or
According to a January 2007 Decima Research study commissioned by
UFile, 44% of Canadians put off filing until April, a figure in line
with the 45% who reported that filing their own returns resulted in a
moderate to high amount of stress; 32% of those polled reported that it
was “likely” that they unintentionally overlooked
exemptions or writeoffs when filing their returns.
UFile vice-president Joanne Birtch suggests that
important Canadians not fear tax season, but embrace it, simplify the
process and file on time.”
Maybe “embracing” tax season is too much to ask,
increasingly sophisticated and usable tax software should help many
taxpayers lower the inevitable stress of this time of year.