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TurboTax Canada Review for 2020 : The Best Choice for Paid Tax Return Software

TurboTax Canada Review for 2020 : The Best Choice for Paid Tax Return Software

Once again, tax season is upon us, and Canadians everywhere are using Intuit’s TurboTax to file their return. Once known as QuickTax, TurboTax has long been a top player in the tax return software game. With each passing year, however, the competition ups the ante, and TurboTax is no different. In this review, we’ll look at what TurboTax has to offer Canadian tax filers for the 2019 tax year, and see how they stack up against other top names, like SimpleTax, and H&R Block.

TurboTax Features

With paid versions ranging as high as $44.99/return, not to mention some rather pricey add-ons, TurboTax tends to be one of the more expensive tax software options out there. That said, TurboTax boasts a number of top features that will make completing your tax return a breeze. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to see.

NETFILE Certified

As soon as your tax return is completed in TurboTax, it can be sent immediately to the CRA for processing, via NETFILE. NETFILE is the CRA’s secure electronic tax filing system. This instant transfer means that you get your refund sooner, often within 7 business days.

Built-In Support

All TurboTax users have access to an online community forum, not to mention the support that’s baked right into the software. For example, at the beginning of the return, TurboTax asks a number of personal questions designed to improve the user experience. TurboTax will also sift through more than 400 possible credits to maximize your tax savings.

CRA Auto-Fill My Return

Providing that you are registered with CRA My Account, Auto-Fill My Return will automatically download any available tax slips into your TurboTax return, saving you from having to enter the information manually. This includes various T3, T4, and T5 slips.

TurboTax Assist & Review

While TurboTax has the tools for you to get the job done on your own, for $69.99 you can have a real, live tax professional review your tax return prior to filing. This will help to make sure your credits are maximized, and that you end up with the highest possible refund. For self-employed returns, the cost is slightly higher, at $84.99.

TurboTax Full Service

If you prefer to have a professional prepare your return, but you still want the convenience of doing everything online, TurboTax Full Service can help. For $99.99, all you need to do is upload your tax documents, and a TurboTax professional will take over from there, handling your return from start to finish. Business owners can pay for the same service, for $179.99.

TurboTax Versions & Pricing

There are versions of TurboTax’s online software. While at the high end, they are pricier than most of their competitors, they do offer a free version, as well as a well equipped standard tier, which is built to handle most personal returns. Here’s a breakdown of each level.

TurboTax Free

Unlike some tax return software, TurboTax Free is available to Canadians at all income levels. Providing that you have a fairly simple return, and don’t need all the bells and whistles of the paid versions, anyone can access TurboTax Free. All versions are NETFILE Certified and can handle as many as 20 returns per year. TurboTax Free includes an instant refund tracker, so you know where you stand as you move through your return, but it can’t handle more complex tax situations, like investments, or self-employment and rental income.

Features:

  • NETFILE Certified
  • Auto-Fill My Return
  • Handles up to 20 returns
  • No online tax return storage

TurboTax Standard

For a very reasonable $19.99/return, TurboTax Standard adds some features not included in the free version. For example, Standard allows you to transfer your data from the previous year. It will also identify tax savings for you, and provide guidance on how to maximize family tax savings.

Features:

  • Same features as TurboTax Free, plus
  • Personalized tax profile
  • Transfer last year’s tax info
  • Identifies tax savings
  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Maximize family credits
  • Enhanced product assistance

TurboTax Premium

If you own investments, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, or own a rental property, you’ll want to spend a bit more and grab TurboTax Premium. At $34.99 per return, it is a bit more costly but comes with features that make it easy to report investments and rental property income.

Features:

  • Everything in TurboTax Standard, plus
  • Covers stocks and bonds
  • Investment income
  • Rental income
  • Capital Gains

TurboTax Self-Employed

Business owners will benefit from TurboTax Self Employed, which comes with dedicated help and guidance for self-employed individuals. This includes searching for industry-specific deductions, and an online interview to help determine income and expenses. It is rather pricey, at $44.99, but well worth it

if it uncovers deductions you would not have otherwise found on your own.

Features:

  • Everything in TurboTax Premium, plus;
  • Specialized guidance for self-employed
  • Free Download of Quickbooks Self-Employed
  • Industry-specific deductions
  • Questionnaire to determine your income and expenses
  • Can handle various types of self-employment

TurboTax Download

Some Canadians still prefer to download their tax return software, where it can be securely stored on their computer hard drive. This makes it possible to work on your return while offline. In addition to their online software, TurboTax sells the downloadable version, and you can still purchase the CD-ROM version in retail stores. The features are very similar to what you’ll find with the online software, but there is no free option and the pricing is slightly higher, as follows:

Basic: $19.99, includes 4 returns; Standard: $34.99, includes 8 returns; Premier, $74.99, includes 12 returns; and Home & Business, $119.99, includes 12 returns.

TurboTax vs. SimpleTax vs. H&R Block

With so many options to choose from, how does one decide which tax return software is best for them? To help answer this question, let’s do a quick comparison of TurboTax versus a couple of other highly popular Canadian tax software brands, SimpleTax and H&R Block.

If you’re looking for the best free software, SimpleTax is my top choice. While both TurboTax and H&R Block have free versions of their software, SimpleTax offers more functionality free of charge, including the ability to handle investments, self-employment and rental income. Not only that, but their user interface is so simple and clean, that your entire return is completed on one screen.

If you prefer having the added support, the paid versions of TurboTax and H&R Block are the way to go. Both companies make it possible to have your return reviewed and/or completed by a live tax professional. Of course, you will pay extra for these services but sometimes it’s nice to have the option.

For me, TurboTax gets the edge over H&R Block, mainly due to its Self Employed version for business owners, which is packed with features that make filing business taxes a breeze. One nice feature of H&R Block is getting to choose between visiting a brick and mortar location to file your taxes, or going the DIY route at home.

For your own comparison, feel free to check out my in-depth reviews of SimpleTax and H&R Block, both of which are updated for the 2019 tax year. I’ve also written a recent review of the best free tax return software options for Canadians.

TurboTax: My Top Choice For Paid Tax Return Software

For 2020, TurboTax remains my top choice for paid tax return software. Offerings from H&R Block and even UFile are also very strong, but it’s tough to beat TurboTax’s combination of features, professional support, not to mention a highly intuitive user interface. For free software, SimpleTax has more to offer, but TurboTax Free means that there’s something for everyone. If you haven’t already filed your taxes for 2019, I recommend that you take a long look at TurboTax.

Comments

  1. Doug Broadhurst

    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. :>)

  2. Don Ford

    For the past two tax years, I have come across a problem with 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.

  3. Michael

    I have used QuickTax for as long as I can remember – likely 1996 – and have used Turbotax for the few years. 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.

    • Larry Lix

      I got tired of the spam and will probably be attempting to get a refund.

  4. Larry Lix

    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 been one 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 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 not accessible from the latest version and the old versions don’t install in newer Windows due to poor code writing habits from these guys.

    Assuming 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.

    • Lee

      I have use several tax programs – Wintax, Ufile… Unfortunately, Intuit bought them all out. I have used StudioTax for the last 6 years. It’s free, stable and allows carry forward. For 2015 and 2016 it allows you to download your income slips (T4’s, T5’s…)from the CRA website. If you use it, make a donation so the company can continue providing this fine program.

  5. NSDaddy

    Of all the software out there, Turbo 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)

  6. nerd02

    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.

  7. Sam

    Hi Tom,
    The article seem to be written by the marketing manager for turbotax. I’ve used the Turbotax standard for my 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

      I never received anything for writing my review, other than the free coupons that I gave 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?

      • Amy

        Please read the comments, they are FULL of the limitations of TurboTax! Your comment that you didn’t find any leads me to believe that you didn’t actually use it or you entered a T4 through the interview mode and nothing more. Very disappointing.

      • Sacha

        TurboTax software has an error when calculating GST/HST refund. It AUTOMATICALLY adds the whole amount of employer expenses (which one entered elsewhere) in the 15% deduction but on the GST370 form I clearly entered the correct amounts in the correct percentile columns. Now it’s adding that to the total of it’s ‘own’ interpretation of it all being 15%. This is wrong-wrong-wrong. Not all my expenses are eligible for HST rebate and not all of those are 15%. !!

  8. bla bla bla Ginger

    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..2014 and daily rates for 2015 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.

    • Penny

      TT does calcuate the Cdn amount – while you are led to believe you should put in the Cdn equivalent of US income, don’t be misled – I had to go back and put in the US amount. I couldn’t make their Income summary agree with my own calculator derived, I finally figured out they were taking the income amount and multiplying it by the exchange rate to come up with a Canadian equivlaet.

  9. Bernie

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

  10. Colleen Jackson

    Just tried to e-file 3 tax returns. Could not e-file. I think there was a glitch with the Turbo Tax program. This is the crappiest program they have ever made. Not user friendly as in previous years. Even printing to mail was a time consuming exercise

  11. linda dodd

    I used turbo tax last year at no charge . Had a hard time getting on and part way through i was doing 2014 i’m going try again

  12. Jolly Taxpayer

    In previous years, TurboTax Basic included RRSP contribution – a basic tax entry. This year all kinds of more sophisticated income and deduction entries are included – that should not be on a basic return – but RRSP contribution is omitted. You need to pay more for Standard for RRSP deduction. Considering the many sophisticated entries included in Basic, this is a blatant cash grab that mostly affects low income filers.

  13. Scott

    My first year using TurboTax was for my 2014 taxes. I wanted to love it, but am so frustrated that I won’t use TurboTax again. Here were my frustrations:

    The software is confusing:
    1. The “Easy-Step Interview” skips things and makes it very difficult to enter specific bits of data.

    The customer support is absolutely awful:
    2. If you need support, you must wait for a minimum of 30 minutes on hold. I called twice. The first time I waited for over 80 minutes (according to the call timer on my phone), and the second time was “only” 30 minutes.

    3. TurboTax created a file that it couldn’t netfile to Revenu Quebec. TurboTax told me that there were no errors or warnings before netfiling, but once I tried to netfile it gave me a warning – transmitted by Revenu Quebec: “The format of the file you transmitted does not meet our specifications.” The error code was T3T00001. Many other users in the TurboTax customer forums had the same problem, but TurboTax hasn’t fixed the problem. The “fix” according to other customers is to call TurboTax support and have them escalate the return; then, a few days later it works. TurboTax didn’t call them to say that it works – they had to just try again on their own.

    4. When I called support to try to resolve my netfile problem, they had me walk through the “Easy Step Interview” all over again. When they saw that it passed all the internal checks, their suggestion was that I might have to print it off and file a paper return. While the support agent was researching other options, the system hung up on me so I had to call and wait in the hold queue yet again.

    I cannot, in good conscience, reward this company with my money. Good luck!

  14. L Grant

    I found an error in the 2014 Turbo tax standard software, not calculating my RRSP contributions properly resulting in overpaying tax. I tried calling Turbotax Support and could not get through, while on hold was asked to confirm my callback number, no one called back. I am concerned about this major error and wondering if I should go on Facebook and Twitter to warn others or just go to H&R Block. I have been using Turbotax/Quicktax for many years and wonder if this error has been repeated unnoticed in prior years. Turbotax makes it very difficult to get proper customer service without paying extra eventhough they advertise 24/7 customer service.

  15. Eric

    I agree with Michaels comments above. Same issues!
    Using an IMAC i downloaded the correct program , premier version.
    Cannot pull down the needed forms to enter values in required boxes as in past years.
    So frustrating.
    Trying to talk to someone at Turbo tax and explain the problem was equally as frustrating.
    I feel they are working in moving away from their average client base .
    In the end I closed the program , walked to a local accounting firm and had them do my taxes for me! I am done with Turbotax after many years as a loyal client

  16. Jim White

    I was part-way through entering information in easy mode in TurboTax 2014, then saved it and shut down for the day. Next day, I opened TT2014, clicked on the saved file, and TT took me to square 1, entering personal profile information again. Changing to Forms View, I determined that TT had not saved any of my numerical data either. So I started entering data again. This sucks. I used TT and before that QuickTax for 10 years without a problem. Looks like I’ll have to change to another product or do it on paper forms.

  17. Tom

    TurboTax failed to netfile for me last year, no error cod, only statement from CRA was information did not match.

    TurboTax help was not reachablein over 1 hour.

  18. Ed Nicholls

    I switched to UFile from TurboTax when they didn’t offer an EFile version.

  19. rhonda

    I do not feel competent,or confident to do my own taxes…how do you rate H&R Block? (in Ottawa Ontario).
    Does the expertise differ from different location?

  20. Andrew Brooke

    I’ve been using the online version for a few years now and have not experienced any problems. It’s very easy to use and guides you through the whole process.

    Two of the features not mentioned in the article:
    1) You can easily bookmark any page/step so that you can come back to it later.
    2) There is an RRSP calculator/estimator that allows you enter different RRSP values to see what you’re return would be.

  21. Peter

    Do the tax preparation mall pop-ups use the premier version of Turbo Tax? I think I saw the logo on a monitor at the mall once while walking by?

  22. Todd Child

    I have been using Turbo Tax for the last few years and it has always worked for me.

  23. Rod

    In my case for 2016. I actually started the return using the Free online version. Then at the very end I had questions, complicated enough to persuade me to click on the Upgrade version. Once clicked. Nothing happened. ALL THE SAME as the free version.
    No hints, no tips, no live chat, I was like, ok now I want to downgrade before I file it.

    As it happens, you can’t downgrade! It makes sense for TurboTax of course. But my biggest concern is that I wanted to clarify my questions with the premium version I couldn’t.

    The user interface apparently is identical as the free version. So what’s the point. Now what I’ll need to do is to start ALL over again, from zero, this time I’ll try the Standard version. I hope I can see a difference between the Free version.

  24. A Plante

    I’ve used Intuit tax products for the last 15-20 years. I will never buy this software again. Poor call center quality and crappy products. I bought the 2015 Standard Tax at Staples and I couldn’t even launch the product due to error TT600. This is crazy talks when you think of software. I search the net for a solution or guidance and notices that they had similar problem in 2014. Why haven’t they correct this issue before launching 2015 version? If this continues, I might even bight the bullet and go out and buy another software. Sorry Intuit, you have now lost a loyal customer!

  25. Barb

    I have used turbo tax for years. This year the software has an error. I spent 2 hours on the phone with the call centre, finally told they need to escalate the problem as its seems to be a software problem
    . Told I would get callback within 4-5 business days. I said I was going away in 10 days for 4 weeks and and needed to have taxes completed as I would owe. It is now 5 weeks, I’m home and no callback and no email. I am beyond frustrated.

  26. Alan Gale

    TurboTax 2015 populated Line 478 (Installment Taxes Paid) without my knowledge despite HELP files saying the field must be entered manually. This resulted in an under-payment of taxes due and the need to pay CRA a second time. Very disappointing.

    I have used TurboTax for several years and have not encountered errors in the past.

  27. Amy

    I religiously used Turbotax since leaving the public accounting field where we could use the firmware. Due to it’s useless online version for Mac I will never use it again. You cannot roll forward your 2015 tax return and must re-enter EVERYTHING through interview mode as no form mode is available. This is the worst piece of software to ever come from Intuit. They should be ashamed and embarrassed to have their name attached to it. Considering I’ve had no reply from customer service regarding this program their attitude is “we have your money. So, go pound salt.” So, I will tell everyone far and wide NOT to use Turbotax. I am currently researching better alternatives. Mr. Drake, have you actually tried using the new online version? The only one available to Mac’s? Were you paid by Intuit to do this review?

  28. Patti

    I’ve used Turbo Tax/Quick Tax for several years and really liked it. Wondering what’s happening this year though. First all my marketing emails from them are about USA taxes…as if they consider me an American (NEVER do that to a Canadian) and no Canadian marketing emails. Second, after filing a return for a family member it will not Netfile….had to wait 2 weeks to do that. Third after finally netfiling I get the standard message about the convenience of carrying info forward for next year…just login with my user ID. Then they noted my user ID which was WRONG. I’m really starting to be concerned about the security of my profile and tax information as they don’t seem to have any idea who I am!!!!

  29. Eve

    I just spent all day and night using the 2016 version.
    Rental properties.
    The program does not ask if sold or purchased a rental.
    When try to click disposition of land only, it does not ask important questions, it simply goes through, does not show capital gain etc.
    if didn’t have old notes, there is no way this could be filed as a tax return. Complete waste of $125. Could of made an appointment to,see an accountant and paid the fee. Cost double or triple, bit I would of saved one day,and night of headaches.
    Complete fail!

    I’ll call rev ca. To guide me and I’ll have to call turbo tax as well.

    My suggestion, don’t waste your money and time.

    Sure ok, for simple return.
    Not for a rental property.
    Quicker just using a pen and pencil and free paper forms!

    Turbotax Home & Business, which states is for rentals, completely useless for this purpose.

  30. Luci

    I would recommend TurboTax as it has the Easy Step forms, however I found that it did not give me my amount including the WITB, and the customer service did have to escalate most errors.
    The survey they send asks you to rate the person you spoke with and the TurboTax product. If you rate TurboTax less than a 9 or 10, you could get the customer service person fired.

  31. barry brown

    error in turbotax canada 2016 line 115
    the amount entered on line 16 on detailed worksheet differs from amount shown in line 115 of tax return. the error occured for two independent tax returns on my turbotax. I have talked to another person using their own version of turbotax who have observed the same problem. I contacted turbotax last week, person on other end of phone was clueless. Today have waited for 45 + minutes with no response.

  32. Jared

    Ummm, not sure why you’re promoting TurboTax when there are far better programs out there to use. Like Simpletax.ca you pay what you want (including $0) and it’s so easy to use. No issues at all the past 4 years using it.

    • Tom Drake

      Hi Jared, I have reviewed SimpleTax in the past as well. I think it’s a great option, but many readers won’t trust free software, or entering their taxes online, or just want a brand they know.

  33. Ken

    DO NOT try TurboTax online if you are the past TurboTax users! It does not allow importing previous tax data into the online version.
    Also, the CS rep said there is no way back to the CD/download version next year after you used online version this year.

  34. ghona

    worst purchase ever. used turbo tax for the past 5 years. never needed customer service. however in 2018, it is 28 February and the netfile button still greyed out. went to website and tried all remedies. my tax situation does not demand greying out netfile. tried phoning;annoying experience. you get computerized voice and after you speak you hear keyboard annoying clicks. very poor and annoying way to tick off your annoyed customers. the computer voice directs to a website that is useless. no live voice. turbo tax premier is not cheap. switching to another software and never deal with these poor service artists.

  35. Samah Ghandour

    Turbotax Canada is the worst application ever. I’ve paid extra for a premier membership and asked for an expert review. I had received a message 6 days ago saying that it will be reviewed within 3 days and I will get contacted by email. Nothing happened since then. And everytime I ask for a membership cancellation and refunding my money paid for it, I get ignored. I dont recommend this application at all

  36. Franklin Grimes

    Installed TurboTax 2019 and it was working fine. Today I installed an update and now the program doesn’t work. Uninstalled and tried re-installing. It won’t install now!!!
    Good luck trying to speak to anyone at the company. They keep their phone number well hidden. After spending an hour finding their number, I’m on hold now for over an hour. Don’t know if I’ll ever speak to anyone at this HORRIBLE company. Once they’ve got your money they DO NOT WANT YOU BOTHERING THEM. Awful, awful company.

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