TurboTax 2013 Review for TurboTax Standard and Free

Once again, tax season is upon us, and many people are using TurboTax to file their return. A few years ago, Intuit rebranded the Canadian tax software from the previous QuickTax name. This was done to align all Intuit global tax programs under the TurboTax name. So, if you are wondering what happened to QuickTax, the answer is this: It’s now TurboTax. Same program from the same company.

I’ve used TurboTax, and it’s one of the best programs out there for doing your taxes, especially if you have already used the program. I recommend it, and here’s why:

TurboTax Review

While only so much change with tax software from year to year, TurboTax does make improvements each year, and it’s important to realize that tax law changes as well. As usual, TurboTax has upgraded its step-by-step guidance, including better tracking of where you’re at while filling out your return. (You should also know that TurboTax is NETFILE certified so you can file your return quickly and easily, and get your refund faster.)

Intuit TurboTax ReviewFor the latest version, for your 2013 taxes, TurboTax has incorporated the new NETFILE rules from the CRA. You no longer need your personalized four-digit code to take advantage of this service. It makes things a lot easier, especially when you file with a third-party provider like TurboTax.

Another bonus with TurboTax’s NETFILE capability is that now you can file with a single click. There is no need to leave the program and go to the CRA web site to finish the process, and you don’t need to mess with extra files. This simplifies the whole process, and results in an even faster and more convenient tax return.

Save Your Information

One of the reasons I often recommend TurboTax to those who have used it before is due to the fact that you can save your information year to year. This means that the next year you file your tax return with TurboTax, it’s even easier. Just review the information and only change what you have to.

Additionally, I have found the ability to flag items helpful. If you are missing something, you don’t have to stop the process while you hunt up a piece of documentation. Instead, all you have to do is flag the page so that you can easily get back to it later. This helps me as I often find myself missing some number or piece of paper. Instead of trying to find the appropriate place in the program again or pausing for an hour while I try to track down the right information, I just flag it and move on to the next step. When I get what I need, it’s easy to return the problem place.

TurboTax Versions

TurboTax Standard is likely to cover the needs of most Canadians, and is reasonably priced at $17.99 for the online version and $39.99 for a physical copy. Use this link to get a 10% discount on either price. I almost missed a deduction once, and just getting that helpful advice more than made up the cost of my outlay. For those with average tax returns, particularly families and couples with a fair amount of deductions, the Standard version is likely to be your best bet.

If you have a very simple tax return, you can use TurboTax Basic software for $19.99. I’ve never tried it but it appears to be stripped down to a walk through for just T4s and donations. It can be an upgrade from doing your taxes on paper, and you get the NETFILE option. There is also TurboTax Free, which allows you to enter your T4s and other similar income online and use NETFILE through there as well.

Other versions for those who have more complicated taxes include:

  • Premier: Get tax help with investments and rental properties. If you have investment income, this is the software to get, although it will cost you $32.99 online and $69.99 on CD. (10% discount) For some, though, it’s worth the cost in order to avoid an even costlier tax professional.
  • Home & Business: Do you run a business? This version of TurboTax includes everything from the Premier version, and adds functionality to help you maximize your business deductions and expenses. You will pay $44.99 to prepare online or get the software for $99.99 (10% discount), and it can be ideal for the home business owner.

It is worth noting that the Standard version can handle investments and business income and expenses. So, if you are fairly knowledgeable about taxes, there isn’t a need to upgrade. You won’t get any wizards or optimizers for investment/rental/business income and deductions when you use the Standard version. If you know that you will have questions, and you want the extra help, it makes sense to upgrade. You can compare TurboTax versions on Intuit’s site.

Another new feature offered by TurboTax is the ProReview. You can submit your tax return to an analyst who works for Intuit. This analyst will go through your tax return line by line, and look for errors as well as provide you with suggestions that can help you reduce your tax liability… or even help you boost the amount of your refund.

There are times, though, that it might make sense to go with a tax professional. While the ProReview is nice touch, it may not replace a knowledgeable accountant. If you have very complex taxes, or if you have questions that remain unanswered, considered hiring a tax professional that you can sit down with. For most people, though, even those that own businesses, the truth is that TurboTax can be a great resource, and that it is sufficient.

I’m a fan of TurboTax and have used it to prepare my family’s taxes. It’s a great program and worth the money if you want one of the smoothest experiences while doing your own taxes.

Written by Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of Canadian Finance Blog. While you’re here, consider signing up for the RSS feed or email subscription. Both deliver the latest articles directly to you everyday! Have a Twitter account? Then follow me for all the latest posts or to send me any comments or questions!

13 Responses to TurboTax 2013 Review for TurboTax Standard and Free

  1. Open source portfolio says:

    I’m probably gonna go with that package when I do my taxes. I haven’t really decided yet but I better decide soon.

  2. Doug Broadhurst says:

    I have used the Intuit program since I started on line filing about 10 years ago. Old name Quick TAx.

    I have nothing but praise for the product and for years now it connects seamlessly with Ottawa and the refund is in the bank in days.

    Earlier problems were likely at K1A. :>)

  3. Don Ford says:

    For the past two tax years, I have come across a problem with QuickTax/TurboTax that could penalize large charitable donors. If you make charitable donations that create a non-refundable tax credit that exceeds your tax payable, there is no warning from TurboTax. Unless you go in and manually carry over a portion of the charitable donations to a later year such that you use only the non-refundable tax credits you need in the current tax year, you will lose the excess non-refundable tax credits forever. I found this out last year when I added in one final charitable receipt and the refund did not increase. In determining why that happened, I discovered that I was about to lose non-refundable tax credits that I could save by deferring charitable donations to a later year. I have no problem with the tax rule – the point is that TURBOTAX GAVE NO WARNING that this was happening. I would think it would be easy to incorporate this into the program.

  4. bryan says:

    Here in the USA we have efile not Ufile but it might be
    similar. The program allows people to file taxes electronically and TurboTax is one of the options to use. Unfortunately, it is only free for Federal taxes so people have to pay for the state return or file that with pen and paper. I recommend to my friends to just upgrade to the home and business deluxe version because it is much more comprehensive.

  5. Michael says:

    I have used QuickTax for as long as I can remember – likely 1996 – and have used Turbotax for the last year (or two?) . Anyway, I cant imagine a worse product. It honestly sucks. QuickTax used to let you go the line numbers and see forms.. I cant find out where to put my T1204 (box 84) if my life depended on it. No, I am looking for something else this year. I have a PhD in maths and have loved doing my own taxes.. but this software is possibly the worst I have ever come across.

  6. Larry Lix says:

    Every year this software gets worse. From text on a 24″ monitor that is so small you can barely see it to a more ridiculously confused interface each year for the last twelve years I swear I will do my taxes on the paper forms. It would be much easier. I have never beenone to like fully automatic software when problems arise but…

    This year I got roped into spending almost $40 to use the auto-calc pension splitting version. Last year it was included in the cheap package but an incorrect slip from my previous employer had already been put through, on it. Well TurboTax can’t do correction submissions and after using it to calc the best pension split I submitted the result by hand. Next thing I get back bills from the governement to pay more taxes! Turns out that TurboTax forgot some of my slips on the new calculation and calculated using old totals before some of the slips were entered. I reviewed this for days trying to figure out what happenned only to find some slips that I verified, as entered were forgotten in the latest save.
    This year (2011) I have entered all my slips into their fancy, easy entry, method and finally gave up with the confusion, and self promotion spam included, having to guess what deduction slip entries I would make. I saved the files and exited out of TurboTax, then reopened to see if I would get a fresh choice of the entering slips method, instead. Eventually I found the menu to switch and now all my entries are gone. Two complete tax returns filled with zeros! Again TurboTax didn’t save the latest information to the file I had designated.

    This thing has no recollection of carry forward or carry backward investment losses from other years and each year it has to be re-entered, after you find your income tax forms from 2003 to 2010. I hope you have them all in printed form, ’cause not likely you can ever open your old files…assuming you have never had a computer crash in the last seven or eight years. Old versions are nt assessible from the latest version and the old versions don’t install in Win 7 due to poor code writing habits from these guys.

    Assming you get past all these hurdles you will have to put up with Intuit’s spamware on every third page asking you to buy one of their products. After the experiences I have had with this “junk” I wouldn’t touch another Intuit product if it was free. I have been looking for other Tax prep software companies, for the last few years, but Intuit owns them all. All other have been purchased and shut down. hmmmmm… H&R just got involved. Next year I will be looking or just do it by hand with a calculator! I was always good with math anyway.

  7. NSDaddy says:

    Of all the software out there, Quick Tax is probably the best for “normal” tax returns.
    My wife and I have a few T4′s each, T5′s for our investments, some deductions for the kid, Home Buyers Tax Credit, charity donations, and a little bit of Tuition credit left from our university days.

    If you’re any more complicated than that, I’d suggest going to a tax professional (a real accountant, NOT one of those mall front places that mushroom up at this time of year)

  8. nerd02 says:

    I used QuickTax and now TurboTax for about ten years with no problem, until this year. When I filed a few weeks ago, TT told me I would get a refund from Quebec of about $850. The other day I got the notice of assessment telling me I owe nearly $1400! I contacted TT customer service. They want me to send my stuff so they can check it. Their English isn’t very good and their instructions, while clear, aren’t working. I am losing confidence in them.

  9. Sam says:

    Hi Tom,
    The article seem to be written by the marketing manager for turbotax. I just finished using the Turbotax standard for my 2013 taxes and I have used the software for the past 2 filing seasons that I have done it in Canada. The software seems to be the best being offered to Canadian, but it has some limitations that your article ignored. In my opinion, the software is okay – Not the best Intuit Inc. can offer. Unfortunately, I did not use the software in the USA before moving here, but I doubt if they can survive the competition in States with the standard they produce here to be #1.
    And back to you Tom, I will assume that you are paid for the article otherwise, I do not see a reason why a review will only be able the good and not the ugly parts.
    Thanks

    • Tom Drake says:

      I never received anything for writing my review, other than the free coupons that I’m giving away to readers.

      What problems did you have with TurboTax? You mention me ignoring limitations but I never came across any. Is there something you were unable to enter in?

  10. bla bla bla Ginger says:

    I think QuickTax has been going downhill since they changed the name. It is still about the best game in town, but it feels like it is missing features everywhere.

    I have substantial tax accounting in $US and TT does not help at all. I wish it would. There’s no reason it could not have yearly C$US$ BOC rates for 1995..2012 and daily rates for 2013 baked in. It would REALLY help me if I could enter a $US amount anywhere and fill in the effective date to have TT compute the $C amount.

    I ALWAYS have a hard time working out where to mention the portion of my capital loss carry forward I want to apply in the current year. TT should make this MUCH easier to work out — it should automatically suggest it if I have carry forward losses and a gain this year.

    It ALWAYS claims the married deduction for my wife until a go and plug in a large placeholder for her income. It would be better for TT to assume my wife has an income unless I say otherwise.

    I a glad TT finally stopped insisting that I apply for the GST credit during the review. That was pointless and stupid.

  11. Bernie says:

    I used TurboTax for the first time in 2013. loved it! It was very user friendly and worked seamlessly with no hiccups :)

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