Luisa Rollenhagen is a writer and editor who lives in Berlin.
While tax season is never fun, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many free, user-friendly tax filing options online for Canadians. This is true for both employees and self-employed individuals.
Keep in mind that many of the online tax filing software products below are only free if you meet certain criteria. People with uncomplicated tax situations can usually file for free online.
If your tax situation is more complicated or you own a business that requires complex filing, you may be better off with a paid tax services option. This way, you won’t lose out on any tax deductions or credits.Wealthsimple Tax is a simple way to file your taxes. File your return with confidence it’s done right, and pay what you want—there’s no catch.
How to do your own taxes in Canada
Filing taxes online is not complicated, but you need to know where to start: NETFILE.
NETFILE allows you to file your personal income tax and benefit return online with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This simplifies that tax filing process and allows you to keep track of your return. There are no paper receipts to file unless the CRA requests such paperwork at a later date.
Filing using NETFILE also means getting your tax return faster, especially if you opt for direct deposit. However, you need to use a CRA-certified tax preparation software, which we will cover in this article.
NETFILE certifies tax software every year so it’s wise to confirm the version you’re using is certified for the year you’re using it to file. Download the latest version of the software you plan to use and verify that it’s NETFILE-certified before getting started.
NETFILE restrictions limit who can use the software to file taxes online. For example, if you’re a non-resident of Canada or you went bankrupt in 2020 or 2021, you may be restricted. Check out the full list of restrictions to ensure you’re eligible before using one of the free tax software options below.
CRA-authorized tax professionals, such as accountants, use EFILE to file tax returns. If you’ve had a tax preparation service or an accountant prepare your taxes before, they likely used EFILE to submit your return.
Check out our guide to filing your taxes for the first time.
Note: If you’re looking for corporate tax return software in Canada, get more information for filing your corporate taxes here.
Best free tax software
Let’s look at the best online tax software in Canada certified by the CRA to submit your tax return via NETFILE. While all the options below have a free version, some have paid tiers as well.
Depending on your tax situation, you may qualify for the free version. However, some tax software providers have restrictions, such as income tiers or limited support for the free tier.
It’s best to start with the free tier and see if it fits your needs. If not, you can upgrade to a paid tier if necessary.
Wealthsimple Tax (formerly SimpleTax)
Wealthsimple Tax (formerly SimpleTax) is a CRA-approved, free-to-file tax software. It was founded in 2012 as SimpleTax and later acquired by Wealthsimple and renamed Wealthsimple Tax. The software is sometimes wrongly referred to as Wealthsimpletax, Wealthsimple Taxes, or Wealth Simple Taxes.
The tax software offers an online version and a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
Wealthsimple Tax offers two tiers of service: 1. Priority support that includes CRA audit support and 2. Expert advice that includes CRA audit support and a 30-minute advice session with a tax expert.
Getting started and filing is free, but Wealthsimple Tax asks for a voluntary donation.
The software covers a variety of tax scenarios. It also supports tax filing from all provinces and territories, including Québec. Wealthsimple Tax offers audit support if your return gets audited by the CRA. A support team is available to help answer tax questions.
The software will guide you through all the steps and auto-fill information from past tax slips in your CRA My Account when you connect to it. You can see your refund calculated as you fill out the information.
Wealthsimple Tax will also calculate your cryptocurrency taxes for free up to 500 transactions, even if you traded on lots of exchanges or have your coins spread across multiple wallets.
Lastly, Wealthsimple Tax offers a split for medical expenses, donations, and more to help you optimize your refund. It allows you to check how changing your RRSP contribution before the March 1 deadline will affect your return or the taxes you owe.
State-of-the-art encryption and two-factor authentication add security and keep your data safe.
TurboTax is one of the big players in the tax software space and offers a NETFILE-certified free version. There are several tiers of tax preparation services to cover your individual needs. The free TurboTax version is best for simple tax situations. The software is available online and offers a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
There is no income restriction to use the free version, so it’s a great place to get started. It’s also available to residents of Québec, which is not the case with many free Canadian online tax software options.
The software offers a step-by-step process that guides you through filling out your return. You can also import your tax slips and the software will auto-fill some of the information. TurboTax will keep your personal information safe, and offers a community forum where you can post your questions to be answered by experts and other users.
The free version will cover simple tax situations, such as
COVID-19 benefits and re-payments
Caregiver tax credit
Child care expenses
If you have a more complicated tax situation, such as investments or rental property, you will need to go with a paid tier. You’ll have to shell out some cash if you want support from a tax specialist.
H&R Block Free
H&R Block is another well known name in the tax preparation space with both in-person and online tax services. The company offers H&R Block Free for those who want to do their own taxes and don’t need additional help. It’s also available to residents of Québec.
The NETFILE-certified free version can handle both simple and complicated tax scenarios, and does not have income restrictions. You can import slips from the CRA or Revenu Québec and RRSP information. This makes it easy to auto-fill your information and file faster.
H&R Block’s software will guide you step-by-step through the process and help you optimize by scanning for credits and deductions you may have missed. An automatic calculator keeps track of your return and helps you maximize your return while minimizing any taxes owed.
The software will give you a detailed breakdown of your credits and claims. The Online Help Centre can help you find answers to thousands of questions for free or you can upgrade with a paid expert review or ask a tax expert feature.
H&R Block will NETFILE your return to the CRA or Revenu Québec once you’re ready.
GenuTax is another NETFILE-certified tax software that can help you file your taxes online for free. It’s only available for users of Windows 7 or higher. MacBook users and those who want a mobile option won’t be able to use it. It also does not offer a Revenu Québec filing option.
The GenuTax Standard software is free to use and can help you handle most tax situations, including more complicated returns involving capital gains, small business income, or rental properties. However, the company requests voluntary donations to help support updates and run the software.
The software offers step-by-step guidance that walks you through your tax situations, helping you in claiming every credit and tax deduction available to you. You can also use “Auto-Fill My Return” by connecting your CRA My Account, which will populate your return with information from your account.
You can file a return for any year starting with 2003 through the current tax year. If you’ve already filed a previous year tax return but want to make a change, you can use ReFILE in GenuTax for tax returns starting in 2018.
There is limited email support from GenuTax customer service and no phone support.
CloudTax is a NETFILE-certified tax software that offers both free and paid versions. The free options can handle most basic tax returns, but if you are self-employed, have investment income or rental income, you’ll be bumped to the paid tier.
Residents of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, or Québec cannot use CloudTax to file their taxes.
CloudTax offers two ways to skip data entry: connect your CRA My Account or upload tax slips via phone or a computer. The software will guide you step-by-step and calculate your refund as you answer each question.
If you have questions, CloudTax offers unlimited chat support with their free option. You can upgrade to audit protection that comes with a year of unlimited phone support if you get audited.
UFile offers both free and paid versions of its NETFILE-certified tax preparation software. UFileFREE is available to taxpayers who meet certain criteria:
Post-secondary student, or
Total family income of less than $20,000, or
Filing a federal tax return for the first time, or
Have a simple tax return with only employment income (single T4) or Canadian government pension income (OAS or CPP), and standard non-refundable tax credits
UFileFREE allows you to import data from your CRA My Account, saving you time. The free version also allows you to use ReFile to amend previous years’ tax returns. It’s available to residents of Québec.
AdvTax is NETFILE-certified software that offers free or very-low-fee no-frills tax filing for Canadians. It supports all Canadian territories and provinces, including Québec.
The no-frills software can handle a variety of tax situations, including simple returns and more complicated situations. It’s available in English, French, and Chinese. AdvTax offers an integrated tax calculator, a library of common CRA slips and forms, and limited support via email.
It offers an auto-fill function that connects your CRA My Account slips and imports the data. An integrated checklist helps you ensure you have all information, identifies missing data and helps you claim all tax credits and deductions.
Low-income individuals qualify for a free tax return. All NETFILE users may qualify for a free online filing with half qualifying for a free return and the other half qualifying for a very-low-fee filing.
Best Tax Software FAQ
The Canadian Revenue Agency offers a list of approved software that can be used to file taxes online in Canada. Below is a list of some of the personal tax return software free options:
- Wealthsimple Tax
- H&R Block
The website of the Government of Canada offers a list of all CRA-approved tax software.
Paying income taxes online doesn’t have to cost you. Check out one of the CRA-approved tax software from our list such as Wealthsimple Tax. They allow you to fill out your tax return and file it electronically with NETFILE at no cost to you if you meet the criteria.
Yes, you can file past years returns using tax software. Not all tax software is CRA-approved for past year filing. The CRA has a list of approved tax filing software, along with the certified tax years it can be used for filing your taxes.
If you need to file previous years’ tax returns in Canada online, you need to use a CRA-approved tax filing software. Check out the list of CRA-approved tax filing software and select an option that is certified for the tax years you need to file.
You can get a copy of your income tax assessment online from the Canada Revenue Agency.
The best income tax software in Canada is the one that fits your needs. Check out our list of CRA-approved tax filing software for free options that may work for you.
Some of the most popular tax software options include Wealthsimple Tax, TurboTax, and H&R Block.
Yes, there are several tax filing software options that are free. Some, such as Wealthsimple Tax, are free no matter your income or how complicated your tax return is. Others, such as TurboTax or UFileFree, are only free under certain conditions.
Several of the tax filing software options on our list have mobile apps, including: TurboTa, CloudTax, and Wealthsimple Tax
Most tax software uses encryption and bank-level security to transmit tax returns. It’s important to do your due diligence to ensure the software you’re considering is using. For example, Wealthsimple Tax uses state-of-the-art encryption to keep data safe and two-factor authentication for added security.
It’s important to do your research. Going with a CRA-approved tax software is a great option. Make sure you have downloaded the most recent version of the software you plan to use so your tax return is accurate.
Tax software such as Wealthsimple Tax and TurboTax offer step-by-step guidance when filling out tax information. Many also offer a quick search that helps you find any documents or slips that need to be added to your return. They will also flag potential problem areas and help you file your taxes when your return is complete.
File with Wealthsimple Tax. Maximum refund, guaranteed.Get started for free