Software

QuickTax Disappoints

December 18, 2007

152 comments

Let’s face it: tax software is a commodity and a program from one vendor can easily be substituted with another if you are willing to put up with a little bit of a learning curve. The realities of the marketplace seem to have escaped the folks at Intuit, the makers of the biggest-selling tax preparation software, QuickTax. Despite my distaste for learning to use yet another tax-preparation software, I am shopping around because:

  1. Despite the big print that says “Prepare up to 20 returns” QuickTax Standard, the 2007 version allows you to prepare just 2 returns, down from 6 last year. You’ll have to pay extra to prepare more than 2 returns.
  2. It’s not clear if QuickTax Standard allows entering investment, rental property or self-employment income. It’s ridiculous that we have to pony up $20 more for QuickTax Platinum to declare a little bit of dividend income.

The good news is that there are plenty of options: CRA’s website lists eight competitors for the 2006 tax year. Maybe this is the year I’ll try out UFile instead. Helpfully, UFile’s website states that the program allows data to be imported from QuickTax and the folks at Financial Web Ring have discovered that UFile has increased the number of returns for 2007.

Test Driving TaxFreeway

February 25, 2006

19 comments

Frugal Canadian, an accountant and a tax expert, has an excellent review of tax software products and one of her recommendations is TaxFreeway, which sells for a bargain basement price of $9.95 for unlimited tax returns. After a reader pointed out that the software is free to try (a product key is required to print or NETFILE), I downloaded and installed the product. The installer is only 4 megabytes, so the download was a breeze and should be tolerable even on dial-up internet.

Like other competing products QuickTax and TaxWiz (and probably UFile, which I haven’t tried), there are two ways of entering data: the interview method and directly entering data into the various forms. Though the user interface is not as slick as QuickTax, I found that it was fairly simple to learn to use the product. There are four panels: a summary chart, a navigate panel that can be used to add more slips (like a T4, for instance), an interview panel (that can be minimized) and a panel that displays the actual CRA forms. The summary panel, which displays a bar graph showing the total, net and taxable income, the federal and provincial tax, the tax paid and taxes owing or refund, is a very clever way of showing critical information.

Overall, despite some clunkiness, the software gets the job done. If you have any concerns about the accuracy of your tax return, it should be noted that before any software gets NETFILE certified by the Canada Revenue Agency it has to undergo extensive testing to ensure accuracy. I just wish I had paid more attention to Frugal Canadian’s post and bought TaxFreeway instead of QuickTax and saved myself $30 in the process.

Quick Review: QuickTax Standard for Tax Year 2005

February 23, 2006

13 comments

I have been using TaxWiz for filing our tax returns for many years and this year, decided to test-drive QuickTax. Both the software products are from the Intuit Canada (famous for the Quicken personal finance software) stable. TaxWiz, which retails for $19.95, is much cheaper compared to QuickTax (costs $39.95). Here are my impressions on using QuickTax:

  1. It was pleasantly surprising to find that QuickTax was able to import the previous year’s tax file generated by TaxWiz, saving me the hassle of having to re-enter personal information like address, SIN number and other information like RRSP contribution room.
  2. I was annoyed to see ads in many of the tax screens. For instance, the RRSP information screen features ads from CI Funds. Despite its lower cost, I don’t recall seeing ads in TaxWiz in the previous years.
  3. Entering T4 information into TaxWiz was much easier. The TaxWiz T4 screen looked much like the T4 slip received from employers, so it was much easier to enter data. In QuickTax, I had to find the appropriate box to fill the numbers. It is not a big deal, but there is a greater chance of making a mistake.
  4. I was struck by how similar QuickTax and TaxWiz are. Both have forms that look like the CRA’s tax package. Personally, I liked TaxWiz’s method of showing the gross income, taxable income and refund summary in the status bar.

Bottom line: QuickTax claims to be Canada’s best selling software, but I cannot say that it justifies the higher price, when TaxWiz can accomplish pretty much the same thing. This year, TaxWiz is an even better deal, as it is $5 cheaper. Next year, I am going back to using TaxWiz and I’ll save the $20 difference.