Archive for February, 2012

Filing Taxes is a Snap with SnapTax

February 29, 2012

[Screenshot of SnapTax App]

Intuit has just launched a new tax filing product in Canada that literally makes filing taxes a snap. If you have an iPhone and a very simple tax situation (just T4 slips), you can download an app from Apple’s iTunes store that will allow you to take a photo of a T4 slip with iPhone’s built-in camera, walk you through a couple of questions such as Name, Date of birth, Province of residence etc. and generate a tax file. You can then pay $9.99 and NETFILE your tax return right from your iPhone. If the app determines that your tax situation is a more complicated than it can handle, it will offer to transfer your data to TurboTax Online and you’ll be able to complete your taxes through the website.

I saw a demo of the product last week and one of the questions I had was around security. What happens when you lose your phone? Intuit says that since it stores data on its servers and the data is password protected, a loss of the phone will not compromise important personal information such as your SIN number.

Currently, SnapTax is only available on the iPhone. It is not available on the iPad or on phones running Android. I was told that the app works on the iPod Touch but though I was able to download, install and run the app, it wouldn’t let me progress beyond the first couple of screens.

I have a much more complicated tax situation, so I won’t be filing with SnapTax anytime soon. However, as SnapTax adds more capability and starts to cover more tax situations in future years (tuition slips, charitable receipts, RRSP contribution statements etc.), it will make tax filing a breeze for a very large number of Canadians.

Some Good News on Auto Insurance Premiums for 2012

February 28, 2012


Auto insurance premiums have skyrocketed in Ontario in the past few years. According to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), auto insurance premiums in the province increased by an average of 5.6 percent in 2008, 8.8 percent in 2009 and 6.2 percent in 2010. Since the reported rate changes are averages, your rate change may be higher or lower than average. As I reported here and here, the auto premiums for our household went up 22 percent in 2010 followed by another increase of 7.6 percent in 2011. Note that since most drivers renew their auto insurance annually, it may take up to a year for the rate changes approved by FSCO to take effect.

Our auto insurance renewal notice for 2012 arrived in the mail recently. The good news is that our auto insurance premium for the exact same coverage and driving record as last year is lower by 8 percent. I count myself lucky because Nordic Insurance Company, which is the underwriter of our policy increased rates by an average of 7 percent in 2011.

According to FSCO, auto insurance premiums went up by an average of 5 percent in 2011, a lower increase than previous years. It appears that new regulations capping accident benefits implemented by the Ontario Government in September 2010 are taking effect. The bad news is that you may still be hit with a hefty increase. Some insurance companies have received approvals for rate hikes of as much as 13 percent. If you are among the unlucky ones, be sure to shop around, review your insurance coverage, consider increasing the deductible and make sure you are getting all the discounts you are eligible for.

UFile Online 2011 Tax Software Giveaway

February 23, 2012


If you use UFile Online to file your taxes, this giveaway is for you. Thanks to UFile, I’m giving away ten (10) coupons that are good for filing your family’s tax returns online (valued at $24.95 plus tax).

Entering the giveaway is real simple. Just leave a comment in this post and don’t forget to include a valid e-mail address. If you are reading this through your favourite RSS Reader or via-email, you have to click on the headline, get through to the website and scroll down to the bottom of the page and type in your comment.

Some quick rules:
(1) No purchase necessary. A skill-testing question may be required.
(2) Deadline for entries is 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 1, 2012.
(3) One entry per person please.
(4) I treat your privacy very seriously. Your email will be used for the sole purpose of contacting you if you happen to win.
(5) I’ll pick ten (10) entries at random and announce the winner after the deadline. Thank you for entering and good luck!

PS: The winners in the H&R Block Tax Software Giveaway picked out at random were Dick, Sean, Jon, Kevin J and Jenn.

PPS: Jon, one of the winners in the H&R Block Tax Software giveaway has not replied to my email. Jon, if you are reading this, drop me a note and I’ll send you instructions to download your copy.