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The 9 Best Tax Return Software in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 26 Sep 2023

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    For most Canadians, the word “taxes” elicits a sense of dread, conjuring images of endless paperwork and complicated calculations. It’s a task many delay, hoping to bypass the annual state of confusion and potentially costly mistakes. If this strikes a chord with you, read on as we explore the 9 best tax return software in Canada. All of them aim to remove the guesswork in filing a tax return in Canada, but who does it best?

    Choosing the Right Tax Software in Canada

    When it comes to filing your taxes in Canada, choosing the right software can make life much easier. With numerous options available, seek out the one that caters to your specific needs. These key considerations help you make the right choice.

    1. NETFILE Certification

    Primarily, check to see whether the software qualifies as NETFILE certified. NETFILE allows you to send your tax return directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) securely. Afterward, you’ll receive a notification confirming its receipt. Although many software options come with NETFILE certification, confirm this status before starting your tax-return process.

    2. Availability of a Free Version

    Many tax software programs, like Wealthsimple Tax and TurboTax, offer both free and paid versions. For simpler tax situations, using a free version suits the average person. Meanwhile, more complex scenarios – such as self-employment or a lucrative side hustle – might necessitate a paid version with advanced features. Evaluate your needs against the software’s offerings to determine the right fit.

    3. Capability of the Free Version

    The scope of features in free versions can vary significantly. Some can handle only the most basic returns and might not accommodate complexities, such as green-energy or investment-property income. Before diving in, ensure the software can manage all aspects of your return to avoid stumbling upon limitations halfway through.

    4. Auto-Fill Capability

    If you register with CRA MyAccount, consider software with auto-fill capability. This pulls data directly from the CRA and populates your return, minimizing manual data entry from different tax slips. Not every program, particularly the free ones, offers this feature, which drastically streamlines the process.

    5. Ease of Use

    For those without a background in taxation, opting for user-friendly software saves time and frustration. Choosing software with a guiding wizard can simplify the process by aiding in the selection of necessary tax forms/ As a result, users without specialized knowledge can navigate their tax filings with ease.

    6. Operating System Compatibility

    Lastly, ensure that the software works with your computer’s operating system. While Windows users generally have a wide array of compatible options, Mac users may find their choices somewhat limited. Therefore, verifying compatibility beforehand ensures a smoother experience.

    The 9 Best Tax Return Software in Canada

    Now that you know what features to look for, let’s see what software options fit the bill for your situation. Each one has its advantages and complexities designed for specific end users. By understanding the strengths of each one, you can play match-maker for your financial acumen and other skills.

    TurboTax: Best Tax Return Software Overall

    TurboTax has earned this reputation in the realm of tax software in Canada for its user-centric approach. In short, it simplifies the complex task of tax filing. Operating on a try-before-you-buy model, it provides a risk-free opportunity for users to explore its features before any financial commitments. Those cautious about diving into the intricate world of tax preparation find this option particularly beneficial.

    The platform offers a diversified suite. This includes a specialized self-employed version, addressing various needs based on your industry with meticulous precision. Users walk through a detailed ‘interview’ process, sharing personal information and details about income, RRSPs and potential credits and deductions. This methodical approach ensures that you explore and use every possible tax-saving opportunity, potentially maximizing refunds.

    For investors, TurboTax takes care of stock sales and other incomes to accurately reflect every dollar on your tax forms. It also has a special how-to section for students. This factors in tuition costs, transfer of unused tuition credits, moving expenses and student tax benefits. Learners can tap into this expertise whether they go off to school for the first time or go back as an adult.

    For new Canadians, it also lights the way as they adapt to the laws and expectations of their current home. This helps immigrants, new permanent residents, international students and work visa holders navigate their first year tax obligations and beyond. It guides them through the work to file their taxes correctly and on Canadian deadlines.

    Why TurboTax earns top status for tax return software

    TurboTax stands out with its promise of the highest possible refund, displayed consistently throughout the user’s journey. It presents tax-saving opportunities vividly. Further, it keeps abreast of the latest tax amendments so users don’t miss out on any benefits.

    To test out various scenarios, you can use its online calculators for income taxes, RRSPs and self-employment deductions. Further, its robust FAQ and community chat answers the most common questions.

    Even better, TurboTax accommodates users with deeper support needs. These range from the basic AnswerXchange forum to phone support and professional review and oversight with the Assist & Review and Full Service versions. These premium offerings extend comprehensive services, including preparation, optimization, review, and filing of tax returns, with the added advantage of year-round audit support.

    The pricing of TurboTax reflects its premium positioning. The Deluxe version, for $20.99 per return, identifies 400 tax-saving opportunities, making it a valuable choice. With the Premier version, you get the expertise to deal with income and expenses from stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency and rental properties.  The price of $39.99 per return also covers capital gains and losses. The cost, although higher compared to competitors, aims to produce larger returns via a simplified, user-friendly experience.

    TurboTax has evolved its filing process to be more digestible and relevant, eliminating overwhelming forms and focusing on user-specific needs. This combination of extensive support, meticulous detailing, and user-friendly interfacing establishes TurboTax as the optimal choice for Canadians seeking a refined and insightful tax filing experience.

    Pricing: Three levels: Free, $20.99 for Deluxe or $39.99 for Premium (for complex investment portfolios)

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory

    Wealthsimple Tax: Best Tax Software for Pay What You Can

    Wealthsimple Tax works as a donation-based tax software that offers Canadians a user-friendly and affordable option to file taxes. Originating as SimpleTax, a creation of Jonathan and Alison Suter in 2012, it quickly gained popularity. Its straightforward and free, “pay what you want” system comes coupled with an easy-to-navigate interface. Renowned robo-advisor Wealthsimple acquired it in 2019 and rebranded as Wealthsimple Tax.

    This software stands out for its simplicity, security and NETFILE certification. It abides by CRA requirements for privacy and encryption, allowing users to import previous year’s returns. You can auto-fill current returns directly from the CRA, referring to step-by-step guidance throughout. The software can handle various income types, including self-employment and investment-property income. Moreover, it optimizes refunds by including features like pension income splitting and spousal dividend claims. For crypto traders, it offers a unique capability to auto-fill returns with gains/losses from more than 300 exchanges and wallets.

    The process of using Wealthsimple Tax remains uncomplicated. Users can easily create an account, link their CRA account, then answer questions about their tax situation. Next, review the summary before submission and submit the return using CRA NETFILE functionality. For Wealthsimple customers, filing can start directly from the Wealthsimple dashboard.

    How its payment system works

    While you don’t have to pay, WealthSimple tax asks its users to donate $19 per return. Typically, most contributions range between $10 and $20. However, this platform has certain limitations, primarily in flexibility and support. It may lack the sophistication required by business owners, non-residents or recent emigrants from Canada. Further, it may seem too minimal for nervous or first-time filers. Customer support focuses more on resolving queries about using the software rather than offering general tax advice.

    Wealthsimple Tax offers a viable direct and low-cost avenue for those with uncomplicated tax situations or crypto traders. The donation-based model makes it an attractive choice for budget-conscious users. Meanwhile, its unique features, especially relating to cryptocurrency, set it apart from its competitors. 

    Pricing: Free for any user, with a request to donate $19 per return. Most people pay $10 to $20.

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory

    CloudTax: Best Tax Return Software For User-Centric Applications

    CloudTax prides itself on demystifying the daunting process of tax filing with its intuitive and user-friendly interface. As such, it has become a significant player in Canada’s tax software landscape. Adopting a freemium model, it allows users to explore its extensive feature suite without immediate financial commitments. This makes it an appealing choice for those looking to save a few dollars on tax preparation.

    Nimalan Balachandran founded CloudTax in 2019 after working as a Taxpayer Service Agent at CRA and a financial advisor. Pricing in CloudTax is competitive, with two do-it-yourself options: free and the Pro version for $29.99. 

    Its “file with an expert” pricing reflects its comprehensive offerings, yet remains accessible, emphasizing user convenience and potential for larger returns. The software provides additional options, including:

    • a CloudTax Pro version with a virtual tax expert for $55.99. 
    • a self-employment package for $79.99 for a review of your filing or $161.99 for the full-service from A to Z
    • an emigrant and non-resident return for $161.99
    • corporate filings for an undisclosed price

    Users experience a streamlined process, where they get guided through each step. This meticulous strategy guarantees that every tax-saving opportunity gets identified and leveraged, potentially maximizing refunds.

    CloudTax differentiates itself with its commitment to offering extensive features even in its free version and providing unlimited chat support. This keeps users informed about the latest tax changes so they can capitalize on all available benefits.

    By tapping into AI technology, CloudTax scans your slips or imports information directly from the CRA. Its financial toolkit comes with few barriers to entry.

    CloudTax’s approach to tax filing is user-centric, eliminating complex forms while focusing on individual user needs. With its emphasis on security, user-friendly navigation and responsive support, it positions itself as a prime choice for Canadians. In return, they discover an efficient and insightful tax-filing solution. 

    Pricing: Free for basic returns, or Plus $29.99 for up to 20 returns, Pro for $55.99 or $79.99 or $161.99 for self-employed review or full service

    Provincial Availability: Canadians in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, or Quebec cannot access the free version, only the paid ones.

    H&R Block: Best Tax Return Software For Online and In-Person Options

    H&R Block stands out in Canada’s tax software domain. It blends more than 50 years of experience with innovative solutions for both online and in-person tax filings. Established in the United States, it has fortified its presence in Canada with more than 1,000 operational locations. Generally, it offers Canadians the flexibility of in-person consultations or online tax software for home filings, via three different plans. You can either work together online, in person or just drop it off for pickup later.

    H&R Block stands apart with its Maximum Refund Guarantee. This promises users that they will attain the highest refund or the lowest tax bill, else the software cost gets refunded. This also applies if another firm gets a better result for you. 

    It also offers optional Audit Protection for personalized assistance on audits or reviews and presents multiple refund options, allowing flexibility in refund receptions. The software ensures ease in filing and integrates with NETFILE for direct tax refund submissions.

    The available plans include: 

    • a free plan for simple tax returns
    • a Deluxe plan at $19.99/return for maximizing deductions and credits
    • a Premier plan at $34.99/return, designed for the self-employed, investors and business owners. 

    These plans cover aspects like automatic tax return optimizations, claiming of employment income, tuition, donations, medical expenses, rental property income and capital gains. Support services range from basic online help sections to an Expert Review add-on for $39.99. This provides unlimited tax advice and personal review experts to guide users through complex cases. 

    H&R Block also offers 20-percent discounts for military personnel and their spouses. For Canadians living in the United States, they make a DIY package available for $99 USD, with online support included.

    When compared to competitors like TurboTax and Wealthsimple Tax, H&R Block holds its ground. Its unique in-person consultation option makes it a preferred choice for those who value this approach to discuss evolving financial scenarios.

    Pricing: Free, Deluxe for $19.99, Premier for $34.99 with 20-percent discounts for military personnel and a $39.99 fee for a review of your return by a tax expert

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory

    UFile: Best Tax Return Software For Simplicity

    Operating in Canada for 20 years, UFile streamlines the cumbersome task of tax filing with the CRA or Revenu Quebec. Designed for diverse needs, UFile offers multiple plans, each integrated with features that ensure the software’s efficiency and user-friendliness.

    UFile allows users to fill their tax information seamlessly and file their tax returns with CRA, providing a choice of plans at various prices. Notably, it’s NETFILE certified and has cemented its reputation as a trusted choice across Canada.

    With UFile, Canadians with incomes lower than $20,000 can file their returns at no cost. It’s always free for students due to a partnership with the Canadian Federation of Students and for those with simple tax returns. This includes reporting employment income or Canadian government-provided pension income. Additionally, first-time filers can also access UFile for free.

    UFile provides several products, including UFile Online starting at $19.95. UFile Premium, at $31.95, includes additional benefits and priority support. Meanwhile, UFile Windows 4 allows you to file four returns for $24.99, but without free telephone support. An update to UFile Windows 12 opens up the possibilities to 12 returns with phone support for $37.99. All options come with a triple guarantee for accuracy, satisfaction and the best tax result.

    UFile Pro and UFile T2 are also available, catering to professional and corporate tax filings, respectively. UFile, with its varied plans and robust features, competes effectively with other tax software like TurboTax and Wealthsimple Tax. 

    Additionally, It offers benefits like auto-fill features, security, reliability and the option to store tax returns online for nine years. It also aims to get your tax return in your pocket within eight days.

    As other benefits, it has a portal dedicated to the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. This facilitates these helpers who guide low-income Canadians, or those with low financial literacy, through their tax filings.

    While UFile has an excellent reputation for safety and securely storing information online, it does have some limitations. For example, it does not have a universally free option or audit protection. The software, however, excels in its triple guarantee and its local data storage option, making it a considerable choice for tax filings in Canada.

    Pricing: Free for students and families with incomes of less than $20,000; $19.95 to file online; $24.99 for four returns via Windows or $37.99 for 12 returns via Windows 

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory

    GenuTax: Best Tax Return Software for Canadians with Straightforward Returns

    GenuTax has assisted Canadians with free tax software since 2002. Established by Ontario-based GenuSource Consulting, GenuTax specializes in multi-year tax technology, while meeting Canadian regulatory standards. Offering accessibility and user-friendly interactions, GenuTax requires only a PC with basic specs. This makes it a viable option for Canadians looking to fulfill their annual tax responsibilities without upgrading their hardware.

    While free of charge, GenuTax operates as a for-profit entity, accepting donations without offering tax receipts. Unlike other donation-seeking software, it leaves the amount open-ended without a recommendation. 

    For functionality, GenuTax is certified by Netfile, the technology recognized by Revenue Canada to comply with each tax year’s specifications. However, it clearly states that the platform serves individual tax filers. It does not support businesses who charge others to prepare their returns for them.

     The software incorporates a conversational step-by-step interview process. Adding this feature transforms the intimidating nature of tax documentation into an understandable interaction, removing any associated confusion. For support, it offers an email option with a 48-hour deadline, also for a requested donation.

    Designed for consumer convenience, GenuTax supports the filing of multiple returns concurrently, ranging from the years 2003 to present. Comparatively, this feature typically incurs additional charges with other services. GenuTax Standard permits users to prepare up to 20 different tax returns. Further, it caters to complex tax situations, like rental property income and small business matters.

    To optimize user experience, GenuTax has an auto-fill feature. Additionally, its express notice of assessment (NOA) service allows immediate access to your tax return’s summary post-filing. The ReFile feature also enables users to revise previously submitted statements efficiently, maintaining comprehensive document records. 

    However, GenuTax does present certain limitations, such as inability to certain farm-related returns and lack of support for Quebec returns. Despite using only Windows and lacking advanced tools, GenuTax’s no-cost, certified service stands out as a valuable asset for most Canadians. The absence of in-person or telephone support might constrain some. Regardless, GenuTax remains a robust, reliable choice for timely, legal tax filings, especially for those seeking uncomplicated, cost-effective tax solutions.

    Pricing: Free for any user with donations requested for returns and support

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory, but only offering the federal portion of tax returns to Quebec residents

    StudioTax: StudioTax: Best Tax Return Software for Low Income Households

    StudioTax has served as a reliable platform since 2004, earning a reputation for its ease of use and functionality. The software,  developed by BHOK IT Consulting, remains compatible with various operating systems. These include Windows, Mac, Android, Microsoft.Net framework and iOS. So, yes, you can do your taxes on your iPhone or iPad. 

    For returning users, StudioTax offers to retrieve basic personal details from previous returns. Meanwhile, first-time users find the wizard tool handy for collecting essential information. The software effectively gathers a wide range of personal details and relevant information. Ultimately, this allows users to view and directly modify their incomes, taxes, total payable, and refunds or balances in real-time. 

    It also became a favourite due to its user-friendly interface and the convenience of not requiring an internet connection post-installation. However, StudioTax faces criticism for its seemingly outdated appearance and lack of some features. For example, you can only import last year’s taxes if they were filed via StudioTax.

    The software simplifies the filing process, creating the .tax file needed to NETFILE but users file the return themselves. The straightforward submission to CRA provides a confirmation number. 

    While the software is free for users with an income of $20,000 or less, it does come with a $15 fee for other users. This licence must be renewed every year. Further, it has limited functionality with no ongoing software updates. Despite these limitations, StudioTax continues to be a suitable option for many, given its reliability and user-friendly features.

    StudioTax holds its ground even with the availability of superior products in the market. It balances user-friendly features and user responsibility, making it a valuable tool for Canadians preparing their tax returns.

    Pricing: $15 for 10 returns, renewable only once per computer; free for households with incomes lower than $20,000, free for residents of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut

    Provincial Availability: In every province, free only for residents of the three territories

    AdvTax: Best Tax Return Software for Non-English Speakers

    Tax season perennially prompts a universal scramble, and this annual struggle may inspire many Canadians to delay their tax filings. Using reliable tax filing software eases the journey, with AdvTax emerging as a notable choice among several options.

    AdvTax is a straightforward text-based software. Even though its design is reminiscent of the 1990s, its functionality efficiently serves the majority of users. Sleeker interfaces have other intuitive options, but AdvTax’s simplicity enables users to complete tax returns within three to five minutes.

    Security is crucial for tax software as it manages sensitive information, so AdvTax protects users with robust security measures. It boasts certifications from the Canada Revenue Agency and NETFILE for tax years 2017 through to present. These accreditations signify secure and encrypted transmission of data, enhancing user trust.

    AdvTax broadens its reach with multilingual support, accommodating speakers of English, French and Chinese. This positions it as an adaptable alternative for a wider user demographic. This adaptability, however, gets constrained by certain jurisdictional restrictions and specified exclusions, like provincial filings in Quebec.

    The software integrates several convenient features, such as auto-fills, ReFILE and Express NOA These simplify the filing process and provide immediate access to tax return results. However, users have pointed out areas for improvement, including visual appeal and limited support services. You can only get help via email, causing potential delays in responses.

    Moreover, this software cannot file across multiple jurisdictions or for foreign affiliate supplements. If you want to file returns for others for a fee, you must get consent from AdvTax first.

    While fundamentally free, AdvTax does have a fee for some users to finance effective system maintenance. The majority of users appreciate its speed and versatility, especially beneficial for individual filings. 

    Pricing: Free for more users, with low fees for specific situations

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory, but only offering the federal portion of tax returns to Quebec residents

    EachTax: Best Tax Return Software for Seniors

    EachTax emerges as a highly user-centric tax software, particularly beneficial for seniors. Its simplicity, broad compatibility with Windows, Mac and Linux and functional design, potentially surpassing AdvTax in user-friendliness. These features make it accessible and easy to use, especially for those who prefer straightforward interfaces.

    Seniors over age 70, new Canadians and individuals earning $25,000 or less annually can use EachTax’s services for free. This inclusivity allows seniors to navigate their tax filings effortlessly. New customers also get their first return done at no cost.

    The software, focused on practicality, integrates features like auto-filling, swift notifications and error checking to optimize the tax-filing experience. The ability to print, review and modify returns multiple times is particularly reassuring for seniors. This allows for meticulous review for utmost accuracy in submissions.

    Continuous accessibility permits users to prepare and review multiple returns in one account, without the need for frequent registrations. In case of audits, EachTax provides indispensable support, offering assistance and thorough guidance. Users get supported by priority email responses, reassuring users in navigating tax regulations.

    Despite its basic design and unavailability in Quebec, EachTax offers a commendable choice for those seeking user-friendly, reliable tax preparation. Further, it does not process returns related to the AgriStability/AgriInvest Program or across multiple jurisdictions. 

    Its commitment to user satisfaction makes tax filing accessible and comfortable for diverse user groups. In essence, EachTax’s comprehensive approach makes it a reliable partner in the tax preparation journey for seniors and other individuals. It combines convenience and support seamlessly within a simplistic yet effective framework.

    Pricing: Free for first-timers, new Canadians, seniors over age 70 and people with incomes lower than $25,000; for others, $6.99 for the first return and $3.99 each for subsequent ones

    Provincial Availability: In every province and territory, but only offering the federal portion of tax returns to Quebec residents

    FAQs About Tax Return Software in Canada

    What is the best tax return software in Canada? 

    TurboTax is widely recognized as a leading tax return software in Canada. It has become renowned for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features, making it a top choice for many Canadians. However, it’s important to note that the “best” software can vary depending on your unique tax situation and preferences. While TurboTax offers a robust option, some individuals with straightforward tax returns might prefer H&R Block or Wealthsimple Tax. After all, they may suit their needs equally well. H&R Block offers the convenience of both online and in-person services, catering to a range of preferences.

    What is the best Canadian tax software for Mac? 

    For Mac users in Canada, TurboTax, StudioTax and H&R Block offer excellent options. TurboTax has a Mac-specific version that is designed to work seamlessly with Apple devices. H&R Block’s online tax software is compatible with Mac browsers, making it accessible to Mac users as well. StudioTax allows you to file from your iPhone or iPad. Additionally, GenuTax was designed specifically for Mac users and is known for its ease of use. The best Canadian tax software for Mac will depend on your specific needs, but these options provide a Mac-compatible experience.

    Which tax software gives the maximum return in Canada? 

    The amount of your tax return in Canada depends on various factors, including your income, deductions and credits. Tax software, in general, calculates your return based on the information you provide. Therefore, the results should remain consistent across different reputable tax software options. However, some software may offer more guidance and prompts to help you identify potential deductions and credits. As such, they could result in a higher return if you haven’t claimed them in the past. However, H&R Block offers a Maximum Refund Guarantee. Meanwhile, UFile promises a triple guarantee for accuracy, satisfaction and the best tax result.

    Do different tax software give different results in Canada? 

    In general, reputable tax software options in Canada should provide consistent results when used correctly. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sets the tax rules and calculations, so tax software must adhere to these guidelines. However, the user experience, interface and level of guidance provided by different software can vary. Some software may be more user-friendly and offer additional assistance in identifying potential deductions or credits. In turn, this can lead to different results if the user’s input and understanding of tax rules differ. To ensure accurate results, enter your information correctly and review the final return before filing.

    What does “NETFILE certified” mean?

    NETFILE certified” means that the tax preparation software is approved by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for electronic submission of tax returns. This certification ensures that the software complies with the standards set by the CRA and is secure for submitting tax returns online.

    Can I deduct the cost of my tax return software in Canada?

    Yes, you can usually deduct the cost of tax return software if you work for yourself or earned rental income. In these cases, accounting and tax prep software expenses qualify as eligible business and rental deductions. Otherwise, you cannot deduct it as an expense.

    Do you have to buy tax software every year in Canada?

    Due to annual modifications in tax laws and forms, millions of Canadians buy or subscribe to tax software each year. This aligns them with the most up-to-date tax regulations and the latest forms and calculations. However, numerous tax software providers offer free tax return software options as an alternative. That way, those who prefer not to incur additional expenses for filing their taxes avoid that cost. TurboTax, Wealthsimple Tax, CloudTax, H&R Block, UFile, GenuTax and AdvTax offer free packages for basic returns. However, you may face income cutoffs or need more detailed returns than these versions provide. EachTax gives free access to first-time users, seniors over 70 and new Canadians, plus those earning less than $25,000 per year. 

    Is it safe to use online tax software in Canada?

    Reputable online tax software in Canada is considered safe to use. These platforms employ robust security measures, such as encryption to protect sensitive information. However, always use software that is NETFILE certified to meet the security standards set by the CRA. Additionally, use strong, unique passwords to stay vigilant against phishing scams and fraudulent activities that may compromise your personal information.

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    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications