Making taxes easy

Trudy Firmage at the H&R Block at Morningside and Kingston Road. (Matthew Alleyne/Toronto Observer)
Trudy Firmage at the H&R Block at Morningside and Kingston Road. (Matthew Alleyne/Toronto Observer) (trudy_firmage_033009)

If you are expecting a tax refund this year, you have options that can decrease the wait time from weeks to days — or even minutes — before you have your money in your pocket.

Gone are the days when it was necessary to spend a whole weekend with a pencil, calculator, and a stack of forms going over a year’s worth of financial information. Software like TurboTax Canada and Ufile are designed to help Canadians wade through the complex calculations involved in filing personal taxes.

“Times are pretty tough right now for a lot of people. For a lot of families in Canada the tax refund cheque they get every year is the biggest one, and we want to make sure they get every dollar they deserve,” said Geoffrey Morgan, PR manager for TurboTax publisher Intuit.

Both TurboTax and Ufile have an online version and a downloadable version of their program which supports Netfile, an electronic filing system used by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) that replaces paper copy and allows for a refund to be processed in as little as eight business days.

For those worried about security and identity theft, Morgan says most Canadians are comfortable using the net for secure transactions, which makes it easy to file online.

“With the same security standards of most banks – if you are comfortable paying a bill online, you should be comfortable doing your taxes online too.”

But for those who prefer a more traditional human touch to filing taxes, without the traditional wait time for returns, Daljeet Sahota, of H&R Block at Kingston Rd. and Morningside Ave., and her staff are waiting to help get you your money.

“We have a staff of 15 that speak various languages from Tamil to Mandarin, because we want people to feel comfortable when they come into our office.”

The average time from when you walk into their office to when you get your return can be as short as 15 minutes. H&R Block files returns electronically and gives their customers the choice of either waiting for their return from CRA or instant cash back.

Like TurboTax and Ufile, H&R Block also has an online site that can be used to help file your taxes. The cost involved in using TurboTax, Ufile, or H&R Block can vary, depending on factors such as income and age.

If you are still not sure which service to use, an Observer reporter tested all three online services to compare usability and the amount each service calculated for a refund.

The results were identical in all three. The only difference was the general interface of each service taking you through preparing your taxes, which varies in features, comprehensiveness, and technical support. We found TurboTax offered their users a wider range of support options than the other two services.

Links to help file your taxes:
H & R Block
TurboTax Canada
UFile Canada
Canada Revenue Agency