One Freelancer’s Review of Our Online Tax Software
Jordann Brown is a millennial money expert and founder of the popular Canadian personal finance blog, My Alternate Life. When she’s not freelance writing or blogging, you can find her renovating her 83-year old house in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Follow her on Twitter at @myalternateblog.
It’s that time of year again – cue ominous music – tax season.
Filing taxes online in Canada is not the most comfortable experience, there’s always that niggling little bit of uncertainty that you aren’t doing it right. Combine this with the fact that you’re submitting documents to the government and the result is most of us either pay the pros to do it or find a system we are comfortable with and cling to it like it’s the holy grail of tax software.
At least that’s what I’ve done. I have always been brand loyal when it comes to filing my taxes online.
It all started several years ago when my parents informed me that they weren’t filing my taxes for me this year. In a panic, I picked a tax software at random, and that’s what I’ve used ever since. It wasn’t the best selection process, but it’s worked so far.
So when I got the opportunity to try out the H&R Block Canada software and to have my return reviewed by an expert, I jumped at the chance.
In a nutshell? It couldn’t have been easier.
- You can file either online or in-person
- There are different pricing tiers for different needs
- Small businesses are supported
- Optional: have an expert review your return
In-Person or Online
H&R Block Canada offers you the option to file your return online or in-person. I opted for online because I work full-time and freelance on the side, so that means I’m busy, and I don’t have time to take my tax documents to an H&R Block office. But if you’re the kind of person who prefers to have your taxes done by an actual human being, that is an option.
The online interface was easy and intuitive to use. You are guided through a series of preliminary questions to determine how complicated your return will be before the software offers you choices between which filing option to choose (I ended up with the assistance option because I was filing with my husband and I have business income as a sole proprietor). At any time you can hit the back button and correct any mistakes.
Importing Data from Canada Revenue Agency
H&R Block’s software lets you import data from the CRA including key pieces of information like your RRSP contribution limits, whether you took part in the Home Buyers’ Plan and your T4’s and T5’s. Always double check to make sure this information is correct, and make sure that you add any missing information. For example, some of my T5’s were missing, but they give you the option to add them in manually.
Preparing Taxes as a Freelance Writer
The thing that makes my taxes a little bit complicated is that I earn money as a sole proprietor, and I need to declare that on my taxes. I also have expenses to claim. This is the part of my return that I’m the most unsure about, because I’m not just taking numbers from my T4 and putting them in the right boxes on the software; these are numbers I calculated myself after a year of tracking my income and saving receipts.
Thankfully, once I entered the business income section of the software, it was all very straightforward. All of the categories lined up as they should, the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) was easy to calculate, and whenever I ran across a term I didn’t know right off the bat, I just scooted over to Google or the H&R Block Online Help Centre in a separate tab, and the answer was easy to find.
H&R Block’s Expert Review
I decided to use H&R Block’s Expert Review system because I’ve never had a pro look at my taxes before. Having an expert look everything over helped me make sure all of my entries were on the up and up. Booking the appointment was easy, I chose from several time slots available, and Cathy called me, and we went through the return together.
I’m now 100% confident I didn’t leave any money on the table, and I’m also confident that my taxes are filed 100% correctly.
H&R Block Pricing
Regarding pricing, H&R Block is very similar to other online software options out there, if a bit less expensive. Here are the pricing options for 2018:
- Basic: FREE for singles and couples
- Assistance: $15.99 per return for singles or $25.99 for couples
- Protection: $25.99 per return for singles or $40.99 for couples
*Prices subject to change at any time
Here’s an overview of the options and what they offer.
As I mentioned, I ended up choosing the assistance option because it offered everything I needed like auto-filling my return, a year over year tax summary, and the “helpful hints” section which suggested a few things I’d forgotten. It doesn’t include phone support or audit protection like the protection plan, but for me, that would’ve been overkill.
For the Expert Review, I had the option to choose between a 20-minute and 40-minute session. Since I only had a few questions, I chose the 20-minute session which costs $29.99.
If you like the idea of filing in person (hey, to each their own) basic returns start at $69.99 plus a filing fee.
Getting Your Money
H&R Block uses NETFILE like all of the reputable tax software companies out there. If I was receiving a refund, I would have received it in about six working days. Unfortunately, I have to pay this year. That’s the downside of earning money on the side.
All in all, I would recommend H&R Block to anyone who is filing their taxes online. The interface is slick, the expert review feature is awesome – especially for anyone who is nervous about filing online – and it was overall a great experience.