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TurboTax Review: Increase Your 2018 Tax Refund

TurboTax Review: Increase Your 2018 Tax Refund

Once again, tax season is upon us, and many people are using TurboTax to file their return. A few years ago, Intuit rebranded their Canadian tax software from the previous QuickTax name. This was done to align all Intuit global tax programs under the TurboTax name. So, if you are wondering what happened to QuickTax, the answer is this: It’s now TurboTax. Same program from the same company.

I’ve used TurboTax, and it’s one of the best programs out there for doing your taxes, especially if you have already used the program. I recommend it, and here’s why:

TurboTax Review

While only so much changes with tax software from year to year, TurboTax does make improvements each year, and it’s important to realize that tax law changes as well. As usual, TurboTax has upgraded its step-by-step guidance, including better tracking of where you’re at while filling out your return. (You should also know that TurboTax is NETFILE certified so you can file your return quickly and easily, and get your refund faster.)

TurboTax has incorporated the NETFILE rules from the CRA. You no longer need your personalized four-digit code to take advantage of this service. It makes things a lot easier, especially when you file with a third-party provider like TurboTax.

Another bonus with TurboTax’s NETFILE capability is that now you can file with a single click. There is no need to leave the program and go to the CRA website to finish the process, and you don’t need to mess with extra files. This simplifies the whole process, and results in an even faster and more convenient tax return.

Save Your Information

One of the reasons I often recommend TurboTax to those who have used it before is due to the fact that you can save your information year to year. This means that the next year you file your tax return with TurboTax, it’s even easier. Just review the information and only change what you have to.

Additionally, I have found the ability to flag items helpful. If you are missing something, you don’t have to stop the process while you hunt up a piece of documentation. Instead, all you have to do is flag the page so that you can easily get back to it later. This helps me as I often find myself missing some number or piece of paper. Instead of trying to find the appropriate place in the program again or pausing for an hour while I try to track down the right information, I just flag it and move on to the next step. When I get what I need, it’s easy to return the problem place.

TurboTax Versions

TurboTax is available online and for download (or CD). It’s important to understand that the desktop version of TurboTax is only compatible with Windows. If you have a Mac, you will need to use an online version.

For Canadians with very simple returns, there is TurboTax Free, which allows you to enter your T4s and other similar income online and use NETFILE. One of the cool features of TurboTax Free is that you can use it on your tablet or smartphone. Other versions of TurboTax, whether you use the online or download versions, are best used on a desktop or laptop.

If you have a fairly simple tax return, you can use TurboTax Basic software for $14.99. I’ve never tried it but it appears to be stripped down to a walk through for just T4s and donations. It can be an upgrade from doing your taxes on paper, and you get the NETFILE option. You can only file up to four returns with this version. Plus, the Basic version leaves out some features of pricier versions, including the import of last year’s data and the ability to flag items to return to later.

TurboTax Standard is likely to cover the needs of most Canadians and is reasonably priced at $19.99 for the online version. Use this link to get a 10% discount on either price. I almost missed a deduction once, and just getting that helpful advice more than made up the cost of my outlay. For those with average tax returns, particularly families and couples with a fair amount of deductions, the Standard version is likely to be your best bet. However, you can only file up to eight returns.

Other versions for those who have more complicated taxes include:

  • Premier: Get tax help with investments and rental properties. If you have investment income, this is the software to get, although it will cost you $34.99 online and $69.99 for download or CD. (10% discount) For some, though, it’s worth the cost in order to avoid an even costlier tax professional.
  • Home & Business: Do you run a business? This version of TurboTax includes everything from the Premier version, and adds functionality to help you maximize your business deductions and expenses. You will pay $49.99 to prepare online or get the software for $109.99 (10% discount), and it can be ideal for the home business owner.
  • TurboTax 20: If you want to get beyond the limits offered by the other products, you can upgrade to this version. It’s only available for download or CD, and is ideal for those who need to file more than 12 returns and have an income of more than $25,000.

It is worth noting that the Standard version can handle investments and business income and expenses, so getting the Premier version might not be strictly necessary. If you are fairly knowledgeable about taxes, there isn’t a need to upgrade. You won’t get any wizards or optimizers for investment/rental/business income and deductions when you use the Standard version, though, so you have to do a little more legwork on your end. If you know that you will have questions, and you want the extra help, it makes sense to upgrade. You can compare TurboTax versions on Intuit’s site.

When you choose a lower-cost product, you can get help with some of your issues, but you can only access that help on chat. You need to buy a version of TurboTax — at least the Basic — if you want to get help over the phone.

Another newer feature offered by TurboTax is the ProReview. You can submit your tax return to an analyst who works for Intuit. This analyst will go through your tax return line by line, and look for errors as well as provide you with suggestions that can help you reduce your tax liability, or even help you boost the amount of your refund. When you choose a lower-cost prod

There are times, though, that it might make sense to go with a tax professional. While the ProReview is a nice touch, it may not replace a knowledgeable accountant. If you have very complex taxes, or if you have questions that remain unanswered, considered hiring a tax professional that you can sit down with. For most people, though, even those that own businesses, the truth is that TurboTax can be a great resource, and that it is sufficient.

I’m a fan of TurboTax and have used it to prepare my family’s taxes. It’s a great program and worth the money if you want one of the smoothest experiences while doing your own taxes.


  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.

    • 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 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

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