Now that the new year is underway and tax filing season is approaching, we're all looking for ways to make taxes a little simpler. None of us likes to fill out the forms, but it's a requirement. The CRA expects us to figure out what we owe, and then pay if we need to, or get a refund because we have overpaid throughout the year.
If you are hoping to prepare your taxes with a minimum of fuss, one of the tools you can use is SimpleTax. SimpleTax is a free online program designed to help you prepare your taxes in Canada. This is my free tax preparation application of choice, thanks to its professional, clean design and how easy it is to use.
SimpleTax is one of the newer tax software applications. The company was founded by designer Jonathan Suter, his wife, tax lawyer Allison Suter, and his friend, developer Justin Reynen. The different strengths of the founders are evident when you use SimpleTax. The design is clean and simple, and the interface is easy to understand and familiar.
SimpleTax supports all federal returns, including federal returns for Quebec residents. The site also supports all provincial returns, with the exception of Quebec. SimpleTax is working on becoming compliant with Revenu Quebec, but for now you can only submit your federal return with SimpleTax if you are a resident of Quebec.
In order to file your taxes using SimpleTax, you need to be eligible for NETFILE. Likewise, NETFILE restrictions apply. This means that you need to be a resident of Canada in order to use this program. Additionally, the CRA puts a limit of 20 tax returns per filer, unless you are a tax professional. If you need to file more than 20 returns, you will need to find different software to use. (StudioTax offers an Enterprise version; read my StudioTax review for more information.)
One of the great things about SimpleTax is that it is compatible with a variety of tax situations. Even if you have investment and rental income, or if you are self-employed, you can use SimpleTax to prepare your return. However, you should be aware that SimpleTax won't allow you to prepare a T2 return. If you need to do so, TurboTax offers a Business Incorporated version for your tax preparation needs.
SimpleTax is also protected by encryption so that you don't have to worry about your personal information getting out there. In fact, SimpleTax won't even be able to recover your password for you if you misplace it, so you need to make sure it's safe. This can make things a little inconvenient of you have started working on your return, and then forget your login information. Double-check it all before you create an account so that you don't wind up losing your work.
Step By Step Tax Preparation
One of the great things about SimpleTax is that it offers step by step tax preparation. The tax software looks a lot like what you'd see when you fill out your forms on paper, so it's familiar. SimpleTax asks you questions, and shows you exactly where to look in order to get the answers you need. All of your calculations are performed for you, and filled in on the tax forms. It's a simple way to go through everything — without the need for pencil and paper. Before you submit anything, SimpleTax allows you to review your information for accuracy.
SimpleTax calculates your refund at each step, changing the numbers as new information is entered. The system is transparent so you can see what is going on, and you can easily try different scenarios and make different decisions. Just make sure that they are legal and you are within proper tax regulations.
My favorite thing about SimpleTax is how easy it is to follow, and the fact that it is very clean and user friendly. This user friendliness is one of the main reasons I recommend SimpleTax over StudioTax, although StudioTax is a great product and you might prefer it if you're looking for a desktop option.
SimpleTax has a simple pricing structure: It's free! You don't ever have to pay for SimpleTax, if you don't want to. The company works on a pay what you can model. You can choose to pay for the service, or not. Many people choose to donate, though, because the service is so useful.
While SimpleTax won't work for everyone, it is likely to work well for most Canadians. If you have especially complex taxes, or if you need to file a corporate return, you might need to consider looking elsewhere. But, for those with common Canadian finances, including a side gig, rental income, and qualified accounts, SimpleTax can be a great tax software solution.