Tax software doesn't make annual chore painless
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002
First published in Business in
Issue #646 March 12-18, 2002 High Tech Office column
Have you been putting off getting your taxes done?
As in other years, your computer can help, and it's
Your choices, however, have shrunk. One-time free CoolTax
gone, along with long-time players CanTax and HomeTax.
battle on, like Hertz and Avis, for the estimated
Canadian market for do-it-yourself tax preparation software. TaxWiz
6.5 million of 22 million returns last year were done on a computer.
Like Hertz, QuickTax is No. 1 by a large margin. It
costs $30 before
a $5 rebate although Mac users get dinged $35 with no rebate, and
a $90 version for a single incorporated return.
This year, QuickTax is limiting the number of returns
you can produce
with a single copy of the standard, deluxe, and Mac versions to five,
for most families. (You can try out a variety of scenarios within a
If you need more returns, be prepared to pay for them:
$35 for 15 more
and $170 for an additional 95.
Being No. 2, TaxWiz feels that it has to try harder.
The software offers
a $10 rebate, and its $30 package allows for an unlimited number of
If you order the package online, you save $5 and get free shipping,
QuickTax has no discount to online customers and charges a $5 shipping
fee. (No Mac version, though.)
Both services are also offering to do your taxes
online, with no added
software needed. TaxWiz-ToGo
costs $10 for an access card allowing two online returns, while QuickTaxWeb
(www.quicktaxweb.ca) charges $20 for a single and an extra $5
a spouse. (Another alternative is UFile.ca,
charging $13 to $20). Returns using UFile and QuickTaxWeb are free for
people earning less than $20,000.
New this year is an expanded ability to NetFile.
QuickTax, TaxWiz, and UFile are all certified for NetFile. Returns
over the Internet or on your computer can now be electronically sent
to Revenue Canada (now known as Canada Customs and Revenue Agency),
arriving in an estimated two weeks or so.
QuickTax and QuickTaxWeb, along with Liberty
Tax Service, will notify customers if they qualify for
If so, customers can choose to electronically transmit their return to
Liberty, picking up a refund cheque (discounted by 15 per cent on the
$300 and five per cent on additional amounts) at one of 227 Liberty
the next day.
QuickTax and TaxWiz both offer similar features. The
mainly in look and feel. If you install either, make sure you download
the latest updates prior to entering your financial data. QuickTax
this easy, offering to automatically connect and update itself as the
step of installation. TaxWiz, however, requires that you go to www.taxwiz.ca
and find and install the update manually.
TaxWiz makes its online forms look more like the paper
although in some cases, that makes them harder to read.
I prefer the way TaxWiz puts a button to open the
next to each line. QuickTax gives less visual feedback that use of a
or form is needed, though double-clicking the entry opens up the
Once you get going, either QuickTax or TaxWiz on your
computer or any
of the three online services will help you get the job done.
None of them, however, will make it easy or painless.
(At least, they
didn't for me!)
As always, have all your records and paperwork
organized and available.
And the more familiar you are with preparing your taxes, the easier it
will be to work with tax software.
And now, with the new ability to Netfile your return
direct to Revenue
Canada (excuse me, CCRA), you should get refunds sooner than