TurboTax Canada Review 2023: Plans, Pricing, Pros and Cons, and More
Tax season is upon us, and thousands of Canadians are rushing to file their taxes in time for the April 30th deadline. Fortunately, online tax software programs have made it easier than ever to complete your income tax return and send it directly to the Canada Revenue Agency for processing. Many Canadians receive their tax refund within a week by filing online.
TurboTax is one of the most popular tax software platforms in Canada. But with so many other options to choose from, including free software, is it still the best tax software for Canadians? In this TurboTax review, I cover the different service plans, pros, and cons, and share a few alternatives.
- File on your own or with an expert
- Four distinct service plans, including a self-employed version
- Limited, free version available
- Get help from tax experts (TurboTax Assist & Review and Full-Service)
- NETFILE – certified
- Accuracy guarantee
- Audit Defense is available
What Is TurboTax?
TurboTax is a tax software platform that includes web-based and desktop applications. It’s a product of Intuit Canada, which operates other financial software, including QuickBooks. Intuit Canada is a subsidiary of Intuit, which is based in Mountain View, California.
TurboTax has a solution to handle almost any tax situation, including students, investors, those new to Canada, and the self-employed.
How TurboTax Works
TurboTax offers a free version of its tax preparation software, along with several paid options, ranging from $20.99 to $49.99 per return. But the first decision you need to make is whether you want to file your own taxes, file with assistance from a TurboTax Expert (Assist & Review), or have a TurboTax Expert do everything for you (Full-Service).
With Assist & Review, an expert can answer any questions you have and will review your tax return for accuracy and to identify any missed tax savings opportunities. With Full-Service, you forward your tax documents to a TurboTax expert, and they will complete your return for you.
Of course, there’s an additional cost for the latter two options. You can see the pricing for Assist & Review and Full-Service in the chart below.
Here is a chart that breaks down the various price points of each TurboTax tier, including the pricing for Assist & Review and Full-Service:
|File on your own||Assist & Review||Full-Service|
*Note that all prices listed are good up until April 17th, 2023, after which time they may increase.
In addition to the plans and prices mentioned above, TurboTax also offers a desktop version of its software, which is available for download onto your Windows PC computer (no version available for Mac). There are four tiers, Basic, Standard, Premier, and Home & Business, and prices range between $22.99 and $134.99.
Now, let’s take a closer look at TurboTax’s online software plans.
In a way, TurboTax’s greatest strength may also be its biggest weakness. That is, they give you so many different ways to file your taxes that choosing the best plan for your situation can be downright confusing. I’ll do my best to break it down.
Not surprisingly, the more involved TurboTax becomes, the more expensive the plan. Let’s take a closer look at what you get with each TurboTax plan:
TurboTax Free (for simple tax returns only)
What you get:
- Can handle employment, unemployment, and pension income
- Report RRSP contributions
- Claim your dependent and student credits
- Covers COVID-19 benefits and repayments
- Import your slips directly from the CRA
- Import previous year’s TurboTax info (if applicable)
TurboTax Free is designed for anyone with a simple tax return. And if that’s you, it’s incredibly easy to use and a solid option. Unfortunately, if any of the following situations apply, you’ll have to spring for a paid plan: Employment expenses to report, charitable donations, medical expenses, investment income and expenses, rental property income and expenses, self-employment income and expenses.
Price: $39.99 per return
TurboTax Basic is exactly the same as TurboTax Free (see above), but you pay $39.99 per return to receive assistance from a TurboTax Expert.
Price: $20.00 per return
What you get: Everything in TurboTax Free, plus:
- Claim charitable donations
- Claim medical expenses
- Claim employment expenses
- Will search for up to 400 tax credits
- identifies potential tax savings opportunities
- Donations, medical expenses, and RRSP contribution optimizer
TurboTax Deluxe is the first paid version of TurboTax. Priced reasonably, at $20.99, it adds in most of the tax deductions and credits not included in TurboTax Free and can handle most tax returns. Unfortunately, it’s not built to deal with investment income, so that will force some tax filers into the next plan up.
Price: $39.99 per return
What you get: Everything in Deluxe, plus:
- claim investment income and expenses (stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrency)
- Report rental property income and expenses.
- Covers capital gains and losses
- Report foreign income
Unless you’re self-employed, TurboTax Premier can handle just about any tax situation you can throw at it. Report your investment income, including crypto and rental income, foreign income, and any capital gains and losses on your investments.
Price: $49.99/$109.99(Assist & Review)/$249.99 (Full-Service)
What you get: Everything you need for your personal return, plus:
- Accurate reporting of self-employment income and expenses
- Help to find industry-specific deductions
- Covers ride-sharing income
- Report online sales income,
- Can handle consulting, real estate income, and more
- Can also handle foreign income
If you ask me, one of the best things about TurboTax is that they offer a dedicated tax filing option for self-employed individuals for a reasonable price ($49.99). Because self-employed tax returns are by nature more complex than personal returns, you can pay more for TurboTax’s Assist & Review service or have a tax expert complete your return for you. While the $249.99 Full-Service fee may seem high, it’s much less than you would pay an accountant to file your self-employed return.
TurboTax Pros and Cons
TurboTax is an excellent choice for online tax filing, but it’s not perfect. To help you sort out the good points and the bad, here is my list of pros and cons.
- Intuitive user interface
- Tax filing options for just about every situation
- Dedicated plan for self-employed individuals
- Customer support with dedicated help available (for a fee)
- File your taxes on the go with the TurboTax mobile app
- The free version doesn’t measure up to Wealthsimple Tax
- So many plans and price points can be confusing
- Desktop version is Windows PC only.
TurboTax is the most recognizable name in tax return software in Canada, but there are several alternatives worth considering, including the following three competitors:
In a way, Wealthsimple Tax is the polar opposite of TurboTax, yet both platforms top our list here at Retire Happy. Unlike TurboTax, Wealthsimple Tax only has one plan, and it’s free. It doesn’t get more simple than that. With Wealthsimple Tax, you complete your entire return on a single page on their website by scrolling downwards. Their user interface is basic, maybe too basic for some users.
If you’re looking for free tax return software, skip TurboTax and use Wealthsimple Tax. It doesn’t have the limitations of TurboTax, and you can complete simple returns within a few minutes. It’s that easy.
However, if you want all the bells & whistles that the paid versions of TurboTax offer, including the option to enlist help from a TurboTax Expert, then stick with TurboTax.
Learn more about Wealthsimple Tax in our full review.
Pricing: $0 to $34.99
H&R Block is synonymous with in-person tax preparation and filing in Canada, so many people don’t realize that they also offer online tax software. Like TurboTax, H&R Block offers a free version for basic returns. Also, anyone under 25 can file for free.
Their paid software is a better value than TurboTax (the highest price point is $34.99), but the user experience isn’t as good. For an additional $39.99, H&R Block offers a similar service to TurboTax’s Assist & Review, but as far as I can tell, they don’t offer online full-service support. For that, you would need to visit an H&R Block office in person.
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 longstanding Canadian tax software company that offers both a desktop and web-based version of its software. Unlike other providers, they don’t have a mobile app. Like H&R Block, UFile’s pricing is affordable and lower than TurboTax.
It includes a free version for simple returns, students, first-time filers, and those with less than $20k of annual income to report. While UFile is a great value option, I don’t see much of a point in using it when you can use Wealthsimple Tax for free.
Check out my list of the best tax software programs in Canada for more options.
The Bottom Line on TurboTax
After reading this review, you may be wondering where TurboTax fits among the various tax software options in Canada. After all, it’s tough to beat Wealthsimple’s free software, which can handle most tax situations.
In my opinion, TurboTax is the best overall tax software platform in Canada, but it’s not the best for everyone. If you have a relatively straightforward tax return and are comfortable with the tax filing process, you’ll save money with Wealthsimple Tax. It’s the best free tax software in Canada, hands down.
But if you’re self-employed or would rather spend a little money to get the best overall experience, including access to an intuitive, easy-to-use platform, interactive tools, and expert help if you need it, then TurboTax remains the platform to beat.