QuickTax is Canada’s leading tax software product and it is easy to see why. When compared with all its competitors, QuickTax has the slickest and most intuitive interface and provides the maximum flexibility by allowing users to prepare their taxes with either the interview method or directly using forms or switching back and forth between the two. As in previous years, QuickTax Desktop software comes in four main flavours: Basic ($19.99), Standard ($39.99), Platinum ($69.99) and Business Unincorporated ($99.99). All flavours allow you to file eight income tax returns (same as last year) and the main difference between the various product tiers lies in the range and sophistication of the interview process. If you are comfortable preparing your taxes directly with the forms and don’t need any guidance, Basic should be sufficient for your purposes.
I asked QuickTax executives to give us a rundown on what’s new this year. Here’s what they told me (my comments are in italics):
- Life Changes Profiling, available on Standard and higher tiers, guides tax filers through life changes that affect their tax return such as a marriage, a new baby, starting a business or going back to school. In my limited test drive of QuickTax Standard so far, I found this feature to be well integrated within the interview process.
- You can now import 2008 tax data from UFile or H&R Block and automatically import tax slips from epost.ca, CanadaHelps.org and RRSP providers. A lot of tax filers seem to demand an import feature but I find this to be of marginal use. After all, how long does it take to type in your name, date of birth, address and SIN number? However, I can see directly importing tax forms being useful in eliminating input errors.
- QuickTax has expanded its support options and offers free technical support through phone, chat and email for all product tiers. A new feature called “Ask a Tax Expert”, which costs $15, allows tax filers to ask unlimited questions and receive responses directly from a taxexpert. I found that QuickTax has integrated its community within Standard, which might be useful if you are stuck. For example, the screen where you enter your income slips has, on the right sidebar, useful questions like “Where do you enter union and professional dues?”, “I’ve cashed bonds. Where do I enter them on my tax return?”, etc. The answers come from QuickTax community of users but a quick check revealed that the quality of responses is very good.
- Audit defence was successful last year and is once again available for $39.99 this year. I wrote about this last year and have little to add to my comments. See post What’s new in QuickTax 2008.
- The online version of QuickTax has two free options. QuickTax Free Online and QuickTax Student Online. If you are preparing just one return and are comfortable preparing taxes over the Internet, the online versions of Standard ($16.99) and Platinum ($29.99) are much cheaper.
Giveaway: I received copies of Standard and Platinum versions of QuickTax 2009 for review purposes. I have installed and test driven the Standard version but I don’t think I’ll have the time to check out the Platinum version. That’s where you come in. I’m giving away one copy of QuickTax 2009 Platinum (retail value of $69.99) to a lucky reader. You can enter by simply leaving a comment in this post (please do not send an entry via email) and don’t forget to include your email address. If you are reading this through your favourite RSS Reader, you have to click through to the website and scroll to the bottom of the page and type in your comment. Some quick rules: (1) Deadline for entries is 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 26, 2010. (2) One entry per person. (3) Canadian residents only. (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 one entry at random and announce the winner after the deadline.