Are you looking for an easy and free way to prepare your taxes in Canada?
When tax season comes around, free income tax return software can make your life much easier. It can allow you to file your taxes with less manual error and save time over the old-fashioned way.
In some cases, it may even be able to replace the tax preparation services that you’re paying for, saving you time and money.
Below, I’ll show you some of the best free tax software in Canada – all approved by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Features to Look for in Free Tax Software
Choosing the right tax software for your needs requires a keen understanding of what features you are looking for. Here are some important features to consider:
- User-friendly Interface: You want software that’s easy to navigate. This ensures that you won’t spend excessive time trying to figure out where to input your data. When I first experimented with GenuTax, I was underwhelmed at how outdated the user interface was. For me, it was a deal-breaker.
- Auto-Fill Functionality: As mentioned in the article, auto-fill functionality saves time by importing your taxpayer data and automatically filling out forms based on previous years’ information.
- Wide Support for Tax Situations: Not all taxpayers have straightforward financial scenarios. A good tax software should accommodate various income sources, including employment, self-employment, investment, and rental income.
- Mobile Accessibility: For those on the go, having a mobile app version of the tax software can be immensely beneficial. It allows you to work on your tax return from anywhere.
- Helpful Tax Tips: As seen with platforms like Wealthsimple Tax and TurboTax, some software provides tax-filing tips. These can help you take advantage of all possible deductions and credits.
- Secure Data Storage: Your financial data is sensitive. The software should have robust security measures in place to protect your information.
- CRA Approval: It’s essential that any tax software you use is approved by the Canada Revenue Agency.
The CRA has a long list of NETFILE-certified tax software available to Canadians that you can view here. These are the only authorized programs you can use to file taxes online.
Not all tax software is created equal, though. Some programs are 100% free, while others merely offer a free version. Some tax filing software is easy to use, while others require more technical knowledge and computer skills.
If you want to get your maximum refund, you’ll want to use the tax software that works best for your situation and level of expertise.
Below, I’ve done my best to summarize the best online tax software so you know which one is best for you.
1. Wealthsimple Tax (Formerly SimpleTax)
- Try It: wealthsimple.com
- Available Platforms: Online
Wealthsimple Tax gives users a real-time refund estimate, allowing them to see how much they will receive or owe before they file their return (although the CRA can always adjust this).
Users can file their tax returns directly through the tax return software and receive their refunds via a direct deposit linked to their CRA My Account.
Wealthsimple Tax supports a range of tax situations, including:
- Employment income tax returns
- Rental income
- Investment income
- Self-employment income
The software is very user-friendly and easy to use, even for those with little or no tax knowledge. Since it’s an online platform (rather than a computer program), anybody can log into their account and use it without downloading software on their device.
Wealthsimple Tax automatically pulls in tax slips from the user’s employers, financial institutions, and government agencies, making the tax filing process faster and more accurate.
The best part? Wealthsimple’s free tax filing software is available for use by Canadians in all provinces and territories. Some tax software is restricted or only available to certain territories.
If you already use Wealthsimple’s investment platforms, then the company’s free tax-filing software is definitely worth looking into, as it can directly import your investment income (or loss) information while preparing your tax returns. This ensures that the capital gains portion of your tax return is correctly filled out.
- Supports a variety of tax situations
- Directly integrates with your Wealthsimple Invest/Crypto data (if applicable)
- 100% free to use (no hidden fees)
- Audit support available
- See your tax return estimate as soon as you file taxes online
- No income restrictions
- Try It: turbotax.intuit.ca
- Available Platforms: Online, desktop, and mobile
TurboTax is easily one of the most popular online tax software programs in Canada.
In addition to helping users file their standard employment income tax return, TurboTax Free can also help users account for RRSP and retirement contributions. As you complete your tax return, you’ll also be able to see your estimated tax return in real time as you make changes and adjustments.
The feature I like most about TurboTax is that the platform provides users with lots of tips and informational links to learn more about tax deductions and tax laws.
Unlike Wealthimple’s 100% free tax software platform, though, TurboTax is not all free. It’s great for those working a simple job, but the free version has some limitations. For example, TurboTax Free can’t process investment income, rental income, or self-employed income.
More complicated tax scenarios require you to sign up for the paid version of TurboTax. One of the notable perks of upgrading to the paid version is that you’ll have access to a certified tax expert who can assist you with the tax-filing process. Audit protection is also included in the paid versions of TurboTax.
- Available to use on multiple platforms
- TurboTax Free is perfect for those with simple tax situations
- See your estimated tax return in real-time
- Helpful tips and information will be provided as you complete your return
- Free online filing
- Get your tax refund directly deposited
- TurboTax (paid version) is better for those with more complex tax situations
- Try It: genutax.ca
- Available Platforms: Desktop (Windows)
GenuTax is a non-profit company that operates on donations only. While the software is available for free, a suggested donation of $20 is requested to support development. The software is updated regularly to remain up-to-date with the latest tax laws and regulations.
Since it’s a non-profit tax-filing software, GenuTax can’t be used by tax preparers or accountants. So, it doesn’t support corporate tax returns. However, it’s more than capable of helping you file your personal or self-employment income tax return.
The program supports a variety of tax forms, including:
- T4 slips
- T5 slips
- GST/HST credit applications
- … and more
Although the user interface is rather outdated, it’s fairly easy to understand and use, walking users through each step of the tax-filing process.
It also includes helpful resources, such as a tax refund calculator, a tax planning tool, and a comprehensive list of tax credits and deductions you may be eligible for.
The software is available for use by Canadians in all provinces and territories, which is a plus.
The main downfall of GenuTax is that it’s only available for Windows. Unlike Wealthsimple and TurboTax (which can be accessed online), GenuTax must be downloaded on your device. Given the company’s small development team, they haven’t released a mobile app and don’t support Mac OSX.
Additionally, customer support is very limited. I’d recommend this software for individuals with more experience with filing taxes and who don’t need as much assistance.
- 100% free to use
- File self-employment taxes for free
- Regularly updated
- Available in all provinces and territories
- Simple user interface
- Try It: hrblock.ca
- Available Platforms: Online
H&R Block is a reputable tax service that’s been in business for over 55 years. Long before H&R Block offered an online tax-filing service, the company had offices throughout Canada where people could meet with accountants and tax preparers.
The company aims to provide the same level of trust, security, and integrity with its tax software as it does in its brick-and-mortar offices. It’s free to use and offers the ability to file a single federal tax return and up to two provincial returns.
The H&R Block Free tax software offers an easy-to-navigate interface.
You can import data from prior-year returns and directly deposit refunds into your bank account.
While the H&R Block Free software offers several helpful features, such as error checks and the ability to carry forward unused tuition amounts, users with more complex tax situations may need to upgrade to a paid version.
- Free-to-use tax-filing software is good for most personal income tax returns
- Canadians have trusted H&R Block for over 55 years
- Scans your return for any errors before submitting it to the CRA
- Paid version available for those with more complex tax situations
- Try It: futuretax.ca
- Available Platforms: Desktop
FutureTax is one of the oldest NETFILE-certified tax software programs in Canada. It can handle any tax slips from T1 to T5 (including self-employment taxes), making it a versatile program, no matter your needs.
At a glance, the company’s website is very outdated. However, the software itself has received positive reviews. Like GenuTax, it’s only available to download on Windows PCs, and there’s no online version.
Technically, FutureTax is a paid program. However, it’s free to use if your total family income is below $10,000 for the given tax year. However, FutureTax’s paid versions are relatively inexpensive should you need to upgrade.
- Free to use if your total family income is less than $10,000
- Paid versions are inexpensive
- Can handle all tax situations, from employment income to corporate income
- Try It: cloudtax.ca
- Available Platforms: Online and mobile
If you’re looking for the best free tax-filing mobile app, then you’ll definitely want to take a closer look at CloudTax. Its user interface is very similar to Wealthsimple Tax, and while it has an online version, the mobile app is top-tier.
The software supports all major tax forms and schedules, including T4 slips, T5 slips, and the Canada Child Benefit application.
CloudTax offers a free-to-use version that should be more than enough to handle most basic taxpayers’ needs. However, there’s also a paid version for $29.99 that offers customized tax tips, audit protection, and live tax help from assistants.
Overall, the software’s simplicity and low price make it a great option for those on a tight budget or who are new to using tax software.
- Mobile apps for both iOS and Android
- Easy-to-use online web app
- Auto-fills your CRA taxpayer data, saving you time
- Video tutorials to help guide you through the process
- Maximum refund guarantee
- Try It: studiotax.com
- Available Platforms: Dekstop and mobile
StudioTax is one of the most versatile free tax software options on the market. Users can choose between Windows and Mac OSX-compatible desktop applications or Android and iOS-compatible mobile apps.
StudioTax makes it easy to file tax returns, and the software guides you through the tax-filing process step-by-step so you don’t forget or omit any important details.
StudioTax versions 2019 and prior are 100% free to use. Unfortunately, you’ll need the most up-to-date version (which is not free) if you want to file your most recent tax returns.
This means that the product is great for filing previous year’s tax returns but may not be the best option if you need to file tax returns from 2020 to the present.
- Available for both Android and iOS
- Available for both Windows and Mac OSX
- Easy tax-filing process
- Built-in CRA auto-fill functionality
- Can handle a wide variety of tax situations
- Try It: netfilet1.taxtron.ca
- Available Platforms: Online
TaxTron’s T1 tax filing software and is available free for those filing returns with a total income below $31,000 or for full-time students.
It’s available in four languages, including English, French, Punjab, and Hindi, making it a great option for Quebecers and those from other provinces as well.
In addition to TaxTron’s free consumer tax-filing software, the company also offers T2 corporate tax filing as well, but that’s at a paid price. TaxTron T2 supports multiple users, making it a great choice for accounting firms and other organizations that need to file multiple returns.
- Free T1 tax filing if below a certain income, or a full-time student
- Available in four different languages
- Paid T2 tax filing program for corporate taxes
If you’re used to working with a CPA or tax preparer, then you may be unsure about filing your taxes online. One of the main reasons why some Canadians don’t like the idea of filing taxes online is due to the threat of identity theft or having their information compromised online.
Filing taxes can be complicated, leading people to hire expensive accountants or tax preparation services. However, income tax software has simplified the process, allowing anyone to file their personal income tax returns, including those who are self-employed. Free software like TurboTax saves time by auto-filling personal information and helps with various tax scenarios.
Thankfully, all of the tax software programs I mentioned above are recommended by the CRA and have been NETFILE-certified to ensure they comply with the strictest data security measures.
Concerns aside, some of the key benefits of filing your taxes online are:
- You’ll save money compared to hiring an accountant
- You’ll save time, as your taxpayer data is automatically imported and filled out
- You don’t have to sit down and schedule a meeting with a tax preparer
- Your information will be saved for next year’s tax returns
- You may receive your refund quicker.
In many cases, online tax services like the ones mentioned above can eliminate the need for an accountant or tax preparer.
As long as you’re familiar with using online programs and have a rudimentary understanding of Canadian tax laws, free tax software can help you save money and expedite the process of filing your federal tax return.
That being said, those who own a corporation or who have more complicated tax situations may want to console a CPA or registered tax professional to make sure that their taxes have been filed correctly.
Pros and Cons of Free Tax Software
When considering using free tax software, weighing the pros and cons can offer clarity:
- Cost-Efficiency: The most obvious benefit is that you’re not incurring an additional cost to file your taxes.
- Convenience: These platforms often offer step-by-step guidance, making tax-filing more straightforward than doing it manually.
- Accuracy: Automated calculations reduce the risk of human errors.
- Rapid Refunds: With direct e-filing capabilities, taxpayers can receive their refunds faster compared to paper filing.
- Auto-Save Features: Many platforms save your progress, allowing you to pick up where you left off without losing data.
- Limited Features: Free versions sometimes come with restricted features, urging users to upgrade to paid versions for more comprehensive services.
- Potential for Hidden Costs: Some platforms might charge for extra services, like audit support or accessing previous years’ tax returns.
- Lack of Personalized Advice: Unlike working with an accountant, free tax software might not offer personalized tax-saving advice tailored to your financial situation.
- Data Security Concerns: Ensure the software’s security measures are robust; otherwise, there might be concerns about data breaches.
To finish up, here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about filing taxes online in Canada.
TurboTax offers a free version and paid versions. The free version is a good choice for employees who just need to file employment income taxes. However, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version if you own a business, are self-employed, or have investments.
The tax-filing deadline for most Canadians is April 30th, 2023, according to the CRA.
Yes, tax software calculates your capital gains tax liability by analyzing reports from your investment platforms. The reports will outline your capital gains and losses, showing whether you have a net gain or loss for the year.
Can low-income individuals file their taxes for free using tax software in Canada?
Yes, low-income individuals in Canada often have the opportunity to file their taxes for free using certain tax software. Many software providers offer free versions of their products to cater to those with simpler tax situations, which frequently includes low-income taxpayers.
Moreover, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) promotes the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). This program partners with community organizations and is supported by volunteers who provide tax preparation services free of charge to eligible individuals, including those with a modest income and a simple tax situation.
Wealthsimple Tax is easily the best free tax software in Canada. The program operates on a “pay what you want” model, meaning you can use it for free if you choose.
Unlike TurboTax Free, Wealthsimple Tax’s free software can handle almost any personal tax situation, making it as good of a choice for self-employed individuals as it is for those working a standard job.
Want to speed up the process of filing your tax returns and claiming deductions? By utilizing a wealth management/expense-tracking app, you’ll be able to see how much you’re spending and where the money is going, allowing you to identify deductions easier.
Keep reading to see my comparison of the two best wealth-tracking tools in Canada: Wealthica vs. Mint!