Software

Which TurboTax Edition is Right for you?

March 5, 2012

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Canadians who file their taxes with TurboTax are often confused by the different product choices available. Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, sells the product in five different flavours: Basic, which retails for $19.99, Standard, which sells for $39.99, Premier ($69.99), Home & Business ($99.99) and TurboTax 20 ($129.99). Intuit’s website comparing the features available in the different flavours recommends that the Premier edition is the right choice for someone who has rental and investment income to include in their tax return.

The TurboTax website also says that the the Home & Business edition is right for you if you are “a contract worker or self-employed & want to file personal & business taxes in one place”. A TurboTax customer who typically purchases the Standard version and had some business income in 2011 might reasonably infer that she will need the more expensive edition to complete her 2011 taxes.

But, that’s not quite accurate. All flavours of TurboTax will allow you to complete your taxes if you only use the forms method for preparing your taxes. The difference between the various TurboTax editions occurs in the extra help in the interview questions and in the number of returns (8 in Standard, 12 in Premier and Home & Business and 20 in TurboTax 20). So, if you are a TurboTax customer and are comfortable preparing Schedule 3 (Capital Gains or Losses in 2011) or T2125 (Statement of Business or Professional Activities), Standard can do the job for you.

Filing Taxes is a Snap with SnapTax

February 29, 2012

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[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.

What’s New in TurboTax 2010

February 7, 2011

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Canada’s leading tax software product, QuickTax has been rebranded as TurboTax this year. Recently, I asked Intuit executives, Geoff Morgan and his colleague Cam Moore, about the name change and to provide us a rundown of what’s new this year. Here’s what I found:

  • The QuickTax name was changed to reduce confusion with TurboTax and to take advantage of TurboTax advertising spilling over into Canada. The underlying software remains the same and is still being developed in Edmonton and Mississauga.
  • TurboTax comes in four flavours: Basic (retails for $19.99), Standard (retails for $39.99), Premier (retails for $69.99) and Home & Business (retails for $99.99). All flavours allow users to prepare their taxes with either an interview method or directly using forms or switching back and forth between the two. The main difference between various product flavours lies in the range and sophistication of the interview process. For example, the Premier edition includes extra guidance if you sold stocks, bonds or mutual funds in 2010. But if you are comfortable preparing your taxes directly with the forms and don’t need any guidance, Basic should be sufficient for your purposes.
  • You can file up to 8 returns with Basic and Standard and up to 12 returns with Premier and Home & Business.
  • Two new features were introduced in TurboTax 2010: Mapping icons to provide taxpayers with a visual representation of where they are in the tax preparation process and setting flags to remind users of missing charitable donation slips, T-slips yet to receive etc. I can see the utility of the flagging feature because right now, I write down everything I need to double check and manually double check everything before netfiling.
  • The new solidarity tax credit (an average of $500 tax credit per household available to Quebec taxpayers who have registered for direct deposit) is supported in TurboTax. The software also supports automatic download of Relevés from Revenu Québec.
  • Features such as Life Changes Profiling, importing tax data from UFile or H&R Block, expanded support options (see What’s new in QuickTax 2009) and Audit defence ($39.99 for individuals and $49.99 for Incorporated, see What’s new in QuickTax 2008) introduced in past years are back again.
  • Mac users looking for a desktop product are out of luck once again and have to make do with TurboTax Online.
  • Qualifying tax payers may be able to file their taxes for free with the TurboTax Free or TurboTax Student through turbotax.ca. Military personnel who performed active duty overseas are eligible to file for free.

I haven’t had a chance to test drive TurboTax just yet, so watch for a future post on my impressions of the new features. TurboTax is available at Staples, Future Shop, Best Buy and other fine retailers. It can also be downloaded from turbotax.ca. Wal-Mart is selling TurboTax Standard for $29.97 ($10 off the retail price) until February 10, 2010.