Intuit’s Response on QuickTax

January 30, 2008


In response to an earlier post, the QuickTax product manager sent the following email, with permission to post on the blog. Please note that he clarifies that all versions of QuickTax include all the forms to address any tax scenario but the tools and optimizers are specific to the product tiers.

One of the reasons QuickTax has done so well in the Canadian market has been because a lot of customer feedback is incorporated into our products. For several years now, we’ve conducted Follow Me Home programs where we go to customers’ houses and watch them preparing and filing their taxes. (We don’t help or hinder; just observe). We take the positive and negative feedback and much of it does make its way into the products. The RRSP optimizer, for example, came out of one of those ”You know what would be really helpful?” comments.

All this is to say that we pay a lot of attention when people talk about QuickTax.

On the number of returns: Sixty per cent of QuickTax users prepare only one or two returns over $25K net individual income. That means more than half our QuickTax customers will pay less this year than they did last year when they take advantage of the ECO-Choice $10 Cash Back Offer.

Extra returns can be purchased for $10 per QuickTax Basic additional return, or $15 per QuickTax Standard, Platinum, or Business Unincorporated additional return. QuickTax installed software products also include 18 returns for taxpayers with under $25K net individual income. The Canada Revenue Agency has set a 20-return limit for all NETFILE-certified personal tax software, so no NETFILE products offer more than a total of 20 returns, regardless of income.

The majority of our customers choose QuickTax because it makes taxes easy, and gives them access to the support they need to make sure their taxes are done right. In addition to built-in tutorials and videos, QuickTax’s English and French support teams provide free technical support 7-days/week by phone, chat and email during tax season, from January 21 to May 2, 2008.

Lastly, we have extended the QuickTax range this year, from Basic to Business Unincorporated. It’s important to note that all versions of QuickTax come with all of the forms to complete any tax scenario, such as declaring dividend income. However, different products will have different tools and optimizers to meet specific needs based on individual tax situations.

Review: StudioTax 2007

January 16, 2008


On the recommendation of a reader, I downloaded StudioTax for a test drive. To be quite honest, I didn’t have high expectations – I thought that the software would be functional and accurate but clunky – but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and ease-of-use of the product. StudioTax is free to download (the 2007 version is already available) and free to use and is capable of filing up to the CRA maximum of 20 tax returns and all the developer behind the product asks for is a voluntary contribution for his efforts. The product is seamlessly bilingual and supports complicated tax cases – a short list of exclusions is listed on the website.

It’s really easy to get started – as soon as you enter information such as names, SIN numbers, address and T4 information, you get access to a what-you-see-is-what-you-get tax return form. You are given access to the T1 General Form, Federal Forms, Provincial Forms and T Slips through a tree view on the left or tabs in the bottom of the page. I found the product extremely simple to use – just enter the data through the T slips or click on the boxes (hint: you can enter information in the yellow boxes) in the T1 General form to bring up the relevant forms.

I was surprised, astonished actually, to learn that a product of such high quality was developed by one individual, who has twenty years of software experience, with support from his family as a hobby in his spare time. I had a pleasant chat with the developer and asked him if we should be concerned about the accuracy of the results. He replied that his product has undergone multiple rounds of testing and unless it passes the same battery of tests that every competing product undergoes and achieves a 100% pass rate, it doesn’t get certified by CRA. Unlike the rest of the software industry, the tax preparation business operates under a simple credo laid down by the CRA – if it fails a single test case, it doesn’t get certified.

I’ve decided to use StudioTax to file our taxes this year. I haven’t tried everything out with the software yet, but I did try entering some T4 slips, RRSP contributions and Child care expenses and I think it should easily handle all my tax needs for this year. Since UFile has a satisfaction guarantee and a 60-day full refund guarantee, I’ll take advantage of it and return the product because, in my opinion, StudioTax is so much easier to use than UFile. And I’ll be happy to redirect the refund to the developers of StudioTax as a thank you for their efforts.

The software is available for download from the StudioTax website (did I mention free?). Try it and let me know if you think the product is as great as I think it is (Just so we are clear, I don’t have any monetary incentive for writing this post). The developer also mentioned that he would love to hear feedback and the current state of the software is the result of vast improvements suggested by users over the years.

Quick Review: UFile 2007

January 6, 2008


Since QuickTax Standard reduced the number of returns to two this year, I decided to try out UFile for filing our 2007 tax returns instead. UFile is available for download from the vendor’s website for $29.99 but you can also pick it up at Future Shop or Best Buy for $19.99. I picked up a copy from Future Shop over the weekend and here are my impressions from trying it out:

  1. You can easily substitute one tax software for another because all CRA approved software is tested thoroughly before being certified. Even if you are filing just two tax returns, UFile’s retail price is at least $10 cheaper than QuickTax Standard.
  2. If you are preparing more than 2 tax returns, UFile is even more cost-effective as it allows you to file up to 8 returns.
  3. I was able to import data such as names, addresses, SIN numbers, RRSP contribution room etc. from QuickTax 2006 into UFile 2007. It’s not too much work to enter all this information but it’s nice not having to do this chore.
  4. UFile uses the interview method to enter tax information. I tried out entering some T4s, RRSP contributions, charitable donations, childcare expenses, tuition amounts etc. UFile supports self-employment income, investment income, rental income, capital gains etc. As far as I can tell, UFile should be able to handle complicated tax returns.
  5. The biggest knock against UFile is that it doesn’t allow you to directly enter information bypassing the interview method. For example, in QuickTax you can bring up the T4 slips by clicking on line 101 of the T1 General. I personally like this method of entering tax information but UFile does not support it.
  6. A minor quibble with UFile is that your tax return is not automatically updated when you enter information. You’ll have to click the results tab before an update is triggered.

Despite the minor quibbles, UFile is a strong competitor to QuickTax Standard. If you are preparing more than two tax returns, you might want to consider switching to UFile – it’s cheaper and will get the job done just as well.