GenuTax Review: Free Tax Software for PC Users
It’s March, which means that spring is around the corner, and tax season has already arrived. If you’re planning to do your own taxes this year, there is no shortage of tax software programs to choose from. However, as StudioTax is now charging users $15.00 for a license to use their program, there is one less free software option. Because of this, I’ve decided to review one of the remaining free options for your 2021 tax return, GenuTax.
What Is GenuTax?
GenuTax is a free tax software application owned by GenuSource Consulting, an Ontario-based software development company. You can download the software onto any Windows-based computer that meets the minimum system requirements. Mac users are out of luck, as GenuTax is a PC-only software.
How to Get Started with GenuTax
It only takes a minute or two to get started with GenuTax. The first step is to download the GenuTax Standard application from their website. As long as you have a fairly capable Windows PC, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Once downloaded, you need to create a new file. Returning users can choose to open an existing file. You will then be asked a series of questions so that GenuTax can record the necessary personal information. Once that’s out of the way, you’ll be guided through the return, with questions set up in an interview format. The entire process is fairly seamless.
GenuTax: Key Features
GenuTax is completely free to use, although they encourage donations to continue investing in their software.
GenuTax software is recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and is supported by NETFILE. This allows you to send your return directly to the CRA via the internet. These days, there’s no reason to use software that isn’t NETFILE certified, so it’s nice to see that GenuTax is included. If you have yet to file taxes for previous years, you can use GenuTax and NETFILE as far back as 2017.
Step-By-Step Interview Format
One of the best things about DIY tax software is how it guides you through the return, making it easy for anyone to use, including beginners. GenuTax is no different, and they employ an interview format that takes you through the return, step-by-step. While their interface may not look as slick as TurboTax’s, they still make the process very easy. Customer support is another matter, which I’ll get to a bit later.
Auto-Fill My Return
GenuTax users have access to Auto-Fill My Return, a service offered by the CRA that automatically fills in parts of your income tax return using information the CRA already has on file.
This includes several common tax slips, like the T3, T4, T4A, T4RSP, T5, T2202, and more. To be eligible to use Auto-Fill My Return, you must be set up with CRA My Account and use NETFILE certified tax software.
GenuTax Customer Support
If you’re looking for tax software that has top-level customer support options, such as a dedicated phone line, or live online chat functionality, you may want to look elsewhere. GenuTax only provides customer support via email, with an estimated turnaround time of 48 hours.
There is no phone support. GenuTax makes this very clear on their website, stating that “requests for support via telephone are not accepted.” According to GenuTax, the limited support allows them to keep operating costs low to continue providing their product at no charge.
While GenuTax can handle most personal income tax returns, you will not be able to complete your return under the following circumstances, as noted on the GenuTax website:
- if you are a farmer and participate in the Agri-Stability or Agri-Invest programs
- if you were required to complete form T2203 because your business had a permanent establishment outside the province or territory where you resided at the end of the taxation year.
- if you are filing a return pre-or post-bankruptcy
- If you are reporting a Nova Scotia Research and Development Tax Credit Recapture
GenuTax Pros and Cons
GenuTax has some good things going for it. And like most things, it has its share of drawbacks. Here’s a list of GenuTax pros and cons.
- Free software (donations accepted)
- NETFILE certified
- Auto-Fill My Return
- Intuitive user interface (interview format)
- Limited customer support
- Windows-only, not available for Mac users
- Lacks the advanced tools of other leading software programs
GenuTax vs. Wealthsimple Tax
Our top pick for free tax software is Wealthsimple Tax, formerly known as SimpleTax. While GenuTax has closed the gap on other leading software programs by offering free returns with NETFILE and Auto-Fill My Return capability, it falls short in other areas, namely the lack of customer support. Wealthsimple Tax boasts other features, such as Smart Search, a real-time refund tracker, and an RRSP optimizer.
The Bottom Line on GenuTax
As free tax software, GenuTax continues to improve, which is good news for its existing users, and may keep them from jumping ship to another free tax software offering, like Wealthsimple Tax.
In short, if you’re an existing GenuTax user who wants to avoid paying the high prices of TurboTax, and you don’t feel that you need any hand-holding when completing your return, there’s little reason to go elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you’re filing taxes for the first time, I would start by checking out Wealthsimple Tax before looking elsewhere.