Experience The Turbo Tax Advantage

TurboTax Canada – A Great Pick in Personal Tax Software

Experiece the Turbotax Advantage by using it for your next tax submission!

These are some of the reasons that TurboTax Advantage stands head and shoulders above most other personal and business tax software. We recommend Tubotax Canada for all your personal and business online tax filing.

We bring you a dozen solid TurboTax advantages and features and more.

A leader in the category of personal tax software, Intuit Canada’s TurboTax Canada initiates your journey by asking you basic questions about your lifestyle, income, investments and your risk profile.

TurboTax promises to make your journey easy by reassuring you that you do need any specialist tax knowledge to use the software. TurboTax promises to walk you through everything and even offers you expert guidance on all your financial issues, as long as you answer some basic questions about your life and financial goals.

The expert guidance from TurboTax covers a number of areas including self-employment income and expenses, rental property income, mutual funds, real estate, investment income and expenses. TurboTax takes everything into account to start computing your tax return.

Unlike other personal tax software competitor products, TurboTax is built on a robust framework that conveys the impression that the software product is designed to work out your taxes in the most efficient manner.

TurboTax is a next generation cloud based software, purpose built for a paperless environment. Intuit advises you on the product’s page on their website that you can switch seamlessly between phone, tablets and PCs. Let’s take a closer look at the product, the company behind it, the features packed into it and how it compares against other competitors in the personal tax software category.

Intuit Canada

Personal tax software has been around for a while.

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen technology taking over tasks that are process and formula driven. Personal taxes are no exception. Once the business was the mainstay of local accountants and tax planners. These tax consultants operated from high street offices, catering to the requirements of small businesses, professionals, consultants and retainers.

With affordable software solutions in the market that are user friendly and easy to understand, it’s no wonder that many of those high street accountancy and tax planning stores closed down.  When it comes to filing your return with the CRA, Intuit TurboTax makes the process streamlined, easy to complete, completely online and more accurate.

Intuit has been at the forefront of these software products for a while now. But well before that there was Bruce Johnson and Chad Frederick, University of Alberta students from Edmonton, the capital of Alberta who built Wintax, Canada’s first ever personal tax software on a Windows platform.

At the same time, there were already other players in the personal tax software game. Chipsoft was a US based company also in the personal tax software solutions business and they built TurboTax.

They acquired Bruce and Chad’s company in 1993, followed by an immediate merger with Intuit who were making a financial accounting software package called Quicken. Well, that’s how Intuit Canada came into being and TurboTax Canada was created. Intuit has a few winners up their sleeve. Apart from TurboTax, they also created Quickbooks, the hugely popular accounting software for small businesses and Quicken, the personal finance package.

TurboTax Advantage and Features

Getting started with TurboTax is easy. Once you’ve provided the basic information about yourself and your finances, TurboTax simply helps you choose the right version of their product that would be right for you.

The framework is the same for all the versions, but different versions have different features, which we’ll discuss quite shortly.

The difference between the versions is the delivery mechanism and the pricing. Intuit is very transparent when it comes to pricing. They tell you what it’s going to cost you upfront. Then you can decide whether the price is right for your budget based on which version is right for you.

TurboTax is currently available as an online cloud based product and as downloadable software. Incredibly, the online product boasts of a free version that will compute your return and file it with CRA for free. This would work great if your taxes were simple to do, or if you were a student. The downloadable versions are obviously more expensive that the online versions. A new mobile version is also expected soon. Let’s compare the different versions and see what’s on offer.

1. Pricing Comparison Between Versions

This table shows us the pricing structure of the different versions of the product.

  • The online versions all offer encrypted data protection for your financial information, and they’re all updated with the latest credits and deductions for the current year allowed by CRA.
  • The standard version offers features attractive to students taking into account their tuition fees and education expenses. The other online versions which cost more also offers advice and guidance on a range of investments across asset classes ranging from real estate, mutual funds, consulting fees, business expenses, etc.
  • The downloadable versions which sit on your computer cost more, but allow more returns to start with. The number of returns increase with the cheapest version offering 4 and the most expensive version offering 20. But it’s not just the number of returns on offer. The paid versions have additional features which allow you to extract data from earlier returns, helps to prepare returns for your spouse, and also advises you on tax matters relating to investments in property, real estate, mutual funds and other asset classes and also helps identify the expenses you can file.

2. User Interface Design

TurboTax Canada provides user interfaces that are clean and intuitive, and processes have a very logical flow.

User friendliness is a very important aspect of personal tax software as several first time users are completely new to filing their taxes online and a complex interface damages their confidence and simply scares them away.

The clean interface makes TurboTax a great choice for a first timer to online tax filing.

3. File for Free with NETFILE

turbotax

TurboTax Canada integrates with NETFILE and allows free filing of your returns.

The free filing feature however does not include Quebec. It also does not support forms T1273 (Agri stability and invest programmes) and T1135 (foreign incomes). It also does not support last year’s returns. CRA’s free NETFILE service is scheduled to open on February 15, 2016.

The free filing feature is for a simple tax return, really meant for persons with a very simple tax scenario. A lot of people wonder why Intuit would allow you to file for free and offer many services for free that you would normally pay for.

Well, the simple answer to that question is Intuit hopes you will have a great experience with them and that will build your trust. Once your finances grow and you start investments and your tax situation gets more complex, you’ll continue to trust their services and simply opt for a paid version.

4. TurboTax Guarantees

Interestingly, the TurboTax free online version guarantees an accurate filing and even offers to pay the penalty if there is one due to TurboTax errors. Other guarantees that TurboTax offers is a maximum refund guarantee.

The guarantee states that if a person gets a larger refund or larger tax savings from using a different tax preparation method, including online products by a competitor, TurboTax guarantees a full refund of the payment taken to buy the software. Even free version customers are entitled to a payout limited to $9.99.

Of course the other guarantee offered is the no quibbles money back guarantee, which states that if you’re not entirely satisfied a full refund can be claimed back up to 60 days from purchase. The guarantees show that Intuit is confident about their product in the market.

Earlier we have seen that Intuit is a market leader in accounting and personal tax software and also have the hugely popular Quickbooks and Quicken as part of their arsenal. It also underlines the company’s commitment to customer satisfaction and desire to add value.

The company is clearly saying that if you feel they aren’t adding value, you can have your money back.

5. An intuitive Learning Environment

TurboTax definitely provides you an environment in which you can train yourself and learn to amass an in-depth knowledge on operating the software as well as filing your taxes.

TurboTax has a knowledge base and a forum for discussion where you can look up solutions to problems faced by other users and learn from them. There’s also an online glossary and a range of video tutorials that walk you through every aspect of the process.

There is a short list of FAQs but the real value add is the link to the TurboTax community online which is made up of different users from different walks of life and varying levels of expertise. Among the thousands of questions and answers, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for and if you don’t, you can always ask a question of your own by opening up a new topic.

6. IOS and Android Versions on Your Mobile App

The new TurboTax mobile app incorporates new features, some of which are new innovations for the personal tax software industry.

These features give you the ability to prepare and e-file your taxes via your Android and iOS mobile devices. The mobile app works very much like the online version. There’s an initial session of questions and your tax situation is assessed.

You can then upload your documents, once you’ve scanned them on your phone. The mobile app is designed to recognize the documents you’ve uploaded and guide you through the process. Another useful feature of the mobile app is that you can contact a company agent through the on screen video helpline if you need additional assistance.

7. High Level of Autonomy

Based on your answers to the initial setup questions, TurboTax identifies the specific areas that require more work and need you to provide additional information, as it may impact your tax assessment.

The software categorises these as "Other Tax Situations." But the beauty of the system is that you are always in charge and can do any section in any order.

The section that lists your deductions and tax credits works in a similar manner. By providing a high degree of autonomy throughout the tax filing process, TurboTax ensures that you actually go through a rigorous hand on learning process and by the time you’ve been through the process two or three times, you’re a pro.

8. Audit Risk Alerts

No one wants to fall foul of the CRA or any tax authority in any country.

Individual customers dread audits and one of the highlights of services provided by a personal accountant is that they will check your taxes for compliance so that you don’t get a letter stating that you’re about to be audited.

TurboTax incorporates a very cool audit risk meter that flags up an alert in the form of a visual warning to the specific parts of your tax file that could potentially result in an audit.  Wherever possible, TurboTax will also provide expert guidance to help you rectify these errors, to help you avoid an unnecessary audit.

9. Audit Defence

A paid for feature incorporated by TurboTax Canada is audit defence. It costs $39.99 for both the online and desktop versions. 

TurboTax recognizes that even 100% accurate returns may be audited at times. In the unfortunate event that this happens to you, having this top up can save you a ton of headache.

An audit defence representative who is a qualified tax lawyer will liaise with the CRA and schedule and attend all audit appointments on your behalf to defend you return. The lawyer will review your return and handle all correspondence with the CRA.

The lawyer will submit additional documents if required, and leave no stone unturned in order to minimize financial impact on you. It’s like having a personal tax lawyer. Needless to say, such a service could set you back by thousands of dollars if you’re suddenly slapped with a notice.

10. Checking The Deductions You Can Claim

Your tax expert or your accountant has the knowledge to advise you on deductions allowed.

That’s one of the big reasons you would go to him, in the same way as you go to a doctor to find out what’s wrong with you.

The good news is that TurboTax has resources and features to help you discover a variety of deductions that you may have left out of your tax filing simply because you didn’t know about it. These could be deductions associated with your home, family, running a small business, owning rental properties, education, charitable donations, and more.

TurboTax allows you the freedom to explore, finding these options on your own. There’s also a feature called EasyGuides that walks you through each relevant deduction.

11. Telephone Based Advice From Experts

TurboTax isn’t just personal tax software. You can reach Intuit via phone and company representatives can answer general queries.

But, if your query is very specific and you’ve somehow got stuck, Intuit can provide you support from their own network of licensed agents, certified accountants as well as tax attorneys.

These professionals are contracted by Intuit to provide support for their customers. The service isn’t necessarily free but you’re able to access reliable professional support by telephone and that really counts.

12. Features for Students Filing Tax Returns

TurboTax sells their online standard version aimed at students.

Students often make fundamental errors when filing their tax returns, due to their lack of knowledge about tax laws. Tax deductions typically missed by students are things like moving expenses and childcare costs.

Other important tax credits missed out by students are the Canada employment amount and the public transit amount. The Canada employment amount can be claimed by anyone who was an employee during the financial year for which the return is being filed. If the student has held any form of employment, either off or on campus, they should be eligible to claim this deduction. Similarly, the cost of public transit passes is claimable by the student, his/her spouse and any children under 19.

Awareness of accurate tax laws is in-built into TurboTax Canada, and the software makes a note of all allowable tax credits and ensures that these are properly calculated on a student’s tax return, which ensures that the student does not overpay tax and then end up claiming it back via a return later.

Of course there are other items like interest paid on student loans, tuition fees, textbook costs and other education costs which are claimable as expenses on a student’s tax return and these are must be represented accurately and according to the form demanded by the CRA. TurboTax Canada makes this easy for students and ensures that filing is done accurately.

Two other features worthy of mention here are:

  • The TurboTax Blog and
  • TurboTax Community.

The blog is a wealth of information about tax filings put together by Intuit and addresses most of the common issues that customers usually face. The issues aren’t just related to the use of the software but tax laws and advice are also covered.

From RRSPs to claiming deductions for medical expenses, it’s all covered. The community works a bit differently. It’s more of a compendium of questions and answers by users. There is a search engine that prompts you to ask a question and then searches for relevant answers that might be of help.

Sure after looking at all these TurboTax Advantages and features, making up your mind would be easier. You can access and start using TurboTax Canada online now.