Best Tax Software in Canada for 2023
The fastest and easiest way to prepare and file your income taxes is with a tax software program. But with so many options, it’s hard to know which platform is best. There are free and paid options, and you can download software onto your desktop or use a cloud-based app online.
In this article, I cover the best tax software programs in Canada. I share my top two picks (one is free, and the other is paid), and I give you six things you should look for in a tax software program.
What to look for in a tax software program
You can use many apps to file your taxes, but some are better than others. Here are six questions you should ask before settling on a tax software program.
Is it NETFILE certified?
One of the best things about tax return software is being able to send your return electronically to the CRA as soon as you’ve completed your return via NETFILE. NETFILE is a file transmission service that allows Canadians to send their tax return directly to the CRA. It saves you from having to drop your file off at a Tax Centre office, send it in the mail, or file your return through a professional tax preparation service such as H&R Block or Liberty Tax.
Most tax software programs are NETFILE-certified, but always ensure this before trying out a new tax software platform.
Is there a free version?
I’ve included both free and paid tax software programs on our list. For example, Wealthsimple Tax is free to use. TurboTax has a free version, but only for basic tax returns. Some people prefer to pay for extra bells and whistles, but I recommend using free software if your tax situation is straightforward. I’ll provide more information on free vs. paid in the individual app reviews below.
What is the capability of the free version?
Not all free tax return software was created equally. Some free programs are only built to handle the most basic returns. So, if you want to use free software but are self-employed, or you own an investment property and collect rental income, ensure the program can handle your return before you get started. You want to avoid getting halfway through your return only to realize you can’t report certain income or expenses.
Does the software have auto-fill capability?
If you’re registered with CRA MyAccount, some tax return software programs will pull data directly from CRA and auto-fill your return. This saves you from having to enter information line-by-line from your various tax slips. Not all free tax software programs offer this feature, but it’s a great time-saver worth considering.
Does it have an RRSP Optimizer?
Every dollar you contribute to your RRSP reduces your taxable income by the same amount. Tax return software apps equipped with RRSP Optimizer tools can instantly calculate your tax savings based on different RRSP contribution amounts. This will be an essential feature if RRSPs are part of your tax strategy. Remember that your last day to make an RRSP contribution for the current tax year is 60 days after the new year (usually March 1st.)
Can it keep track of my refund?
Does your tax return software have a corner window that keeps track of your expected tax refund (or balance owing) as you go through the various screens? It could be a psychological thing, but having that real-time feedback is transparent and eliminates some of the suspense when you reach the end of your return. It is an essential feature of any tax software program.
Best Tax Return Software in Canada
Now that you know what to look for, here is my list of Canada’s best tax software programs in Canada – but first, a note on my top picks. If you’re looking for free tax software, Wealthsimple Tax should be your #1 choice, and it’s better than any of the free versions offered by the other providers, including TurboTax, CloudTax, and H&R Block.
That said, TurboTax is my pick overall because they’re the only platform offering something for everyone. Their user interface is the most intuitive, and they offer the most support if you’re willing to pay for it. You can hire a TurboTax expert to assist you or to complete your entire return.
Think it’s too expensive? It’s a fraction of what you would pay an accountant for the same service. One more thing, the remaining software programs on our list are all NETFILE-Certified and solid choices. My only caveat would be that GenuTax and StudioTax are not web-based applications; they are only available as downloads to a desktop computer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting.
Our Top Picks:
TurboTax: Best Overall Tax Filing Software
Wealthsimple Tax: Best Free Income Tax Software
Best of the Rest:
- H&R Block
1. TurboTax: Best Overall
Pricing: $0 – $279.99
- Limited free version available
- Free filing for anyone 25 and under
- RRSP Optimizer
- Real-time refund tracking
- Up to 20 returns per year
- Identifies up to 400 tax savings opportunities
- Pension Splitter tool
- Investment income
- Auto-fill capability
- 9+ plans to choose from, including dedicated self-employment returns.
- Have your return reviewed by a Tax Expert with Assist & Review
- Full-Service option where TurboTax completes your return for you
- Mobile app allows you to prepare and file your return on the go
- Calculations are 100% guaranteed, or TurboTax reimburses CRA penalties
TurboTax is Canada’s most well-known online tax software program. It offers a free version with limited features (TurboTax Free), but the paid versions stand out for the sheer functionality they offer. Regardless of your tax situation, TurboTax can handle it, and they can provide expert advice whenever you need it.
TurboTax offers the following plans, with price per return in brackets. Note that prices increase after April 17th, 2023:
Do It Yourself: Free (for simple tax returns only), Deluxe ($20.99), and Premier ($34.99)
Do It With Help: Assist & Review Basic ($39.99), Deluxe ($69.99), and Premier ($89.99)
Assist & Review Self-Employed: $109.99
Full Service Self-Employed: $249.99
The main drawback of TurboTax is the limitations of its free software. You can import your slips from CRA, report employment, unemployment, and pension income, report RRSP contributions, COVID-19 benefits and repayments, and claim dependent and student credits. However, you cannot claim medical or employment expenses or charitable donations.
That said, their user interface is the most intuitive platform I’ve used, and their self-employed plans are well worth the price as they will help you maximize your available tax credits and deductions. No other tax software platform offers the same level of customer support and expert advice when you need it. Learn more in our TurboTax review.
2. Wealthsimple Tax: Best Free Tax Software
- 100% Free (option to donate)
- NETFILE – Certified
- Built to handle most personal tax returns
- Crypto reporting capability
- Secure platform uses 2-Step Verification (2FA)
- File up to 20 returns from a single account
- Maximum refund guarantee
Previously known as SimpleTax before Canada’s largest robo-advisor acquired it, Wealthsimple Tax is Canada’s most comprehensive free tax software. Unlike free versions of paid software programs, Wealthsimple Tax can handle many types of tax scenarios, including the following: self-employed, working from home, new to Canada, changed jobs, and traded stocks or crypto.
Wealthsimple Tax is NETFILE-certified and supports Auto-fill, so you can easily import your tax slips directly from CRA, making it easier to complete the tax filing process.
One very unique feature is the addition of a crypto reporting capability. According to Wealthsimple Tax, you can now sync your crypto wallets from various cryptocurrency exchanges. Wealthsimple Tax will automatically calculate the capital gains and losses from your crypto transactions and include them in your return.
The biggest drawback of Wealthsimple Tax, and the reason it didn’t snag our number one overall rank, is its lack of customer support and the fact that they don’t offer an expert review service. If that’s not important to you, then Wealthsimple Tax may be your best bet.
Other Tax Software Programs
While TurboTax and Wealthsimple Tax stand out as our top two platforms, there are several other solid tax software programs you can choose from. Here’s the best of the rest, starting with CloudTax.
Pricing: Free or $29.99 for CloudTax Plus
- Free and paid versions are available
- File up to 20 returns with the Plus plan
- Live chat support
- optional Audit protection available ($2.99/month)
- Auto-fill my return
CloudTax offers free tax filing software for basic personal returns and a paid version called CloudTax Pro. Unlike TurboTax, the free version can handle investment, self-employment, and rental income, but it’s unavailable to Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, or Quebec residents. CloudTax can import your slips directly from CRA and has an AI-powered tool to scan your tax slips. While the free version has limited technical and customer support, CloudTax Plus includes unlimited support, along with a live chat feature.
Pricing: $0 to $34.99
- Free version available for basic returns
- Free tax filing for anyone under 25
- Affordable pricing
- Expert help is available, starting at $39.99
H&R Block has long been the place to go for in-person tax preparation and filing in Canada. But they also have online tax return software. Like TurboTax, H&R Block offers free tax filing for anyone under 25 and a free plan for anyone filing a basic return.
Their paid software can handle the following situations: students, newcomers, small businesses, U.S. Tax filing, military, seniors, and Canadians abroad. Their pricing is very reasonable, with their Deluxe plan starting at $19.99 per return, and their Premier package, which can handle self-employment income, is only $34.99. If there’s a drawback, it’s that their user experience lags behind other top platforms like TurboTax and Wealthsimple.
Pricing: $0 to $19.95 (2nd family member is $14.00)
- NETFILE Certified tax software
- Free version available for students and simple returns
- Affordable pricing
- Up to 20 returns
UFile is a popular Canadian tax software company that offers a desktop version that you can download onto your Mac or PC and a web-based application. Unfortunately, UFile lacks a mobile version at this time. Pricing for UFile’s online software is reasonable and favourable to TurboTax. There is a free version for simple returns, students, those filing a tax return for the first time, or with less than $20,000 of income to report. You can use NETFILE to send your return to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Pricing: Free (donations are accepted)
- Free tax filing software
- Can handle most tax situations
- Doesn’t support CRA Forms 1134 or 1135
- PC-only software
GenuTax is NETFILE-Certified tax software that you can download to your desktop computer. As with the other programs on our list, you can file up to 20 returns. While it lacks the functionality of competing apps, it can handle basic tax returns, capital gains, rental properties, and small businesses. There are restrictions: GenuTax doesn’t support the completion of Form T1135, Foreign Income Verification Statement, or Form T1134, Information Return Relating To Controlled and Non-Controlled Foreign Affiliates. One more thing, GenuTax software is only available on PC, they don’t offer a Mac version.
Pricing: $15 license fee. Free for people living in the Canadian Territories and anyone with income below $20,000.
- Download to your desktop computer or mobile device
- Secure platform (no information leaves your hard drive)
- File up to 10 returns per license
- Can be accessed offline
- Can handle self-employment and rental income
StudioTax is paid tax software (free for some users) and is now NETFILE-Certified. What they lack is an online, web-based platform. You have to download their software to a Windows or Mac computer or an iOS or Android mobile device. Some people will prefer the added security, but it’s not for everyone.
Final Thoughts on The Best Tax Software
Have you filed your taxes yet this year? If not, there’s still time. If you prefer free software and are okay with having less support, then Wealthsimple Tax is your best bet. If you are okay with paying for tax software and you want the option of being able to get help to prepare your return, then TurboTax is the platform I recommend, followed closely by H&R Block. Whichever platform you choose, remember that this year’s tax filing deadline of April 30th is quickly approaching.