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As you might have surmised by the fact that you are wearing the same pyjama bottoms you put on 30 days ago, we are living in strange times. And maybe you’re thinking this could be the perfect year to try using tax software instead of paying someone to do your taxes for you. Because you can’t leave your house. Because sitting in a windowless office with a stranger doesn’t sound so great. Because you’re sick of making banana bread, watching every show on every streaming service, and yelling at your kids for bothering you during a conference call (and then apologizing and yelling at them again) that you’re actually up for a challenge. And maybe your income took a hit and this doesn’t feel like the moment to pay someone a few hundred dollars to do something that you could do at home for a fraction of the cost.
(The official price of using Wealthsimple Tax is: pay whatever you want.)
And yet, here you are reading an article about doing your taxes with super easy software instead of just doing it. Why? Because doing your own taxes seems daunting if you’ve never done it before — and maybe even more so if your 2020 looked a little different than an ordinary tax year. Because there have to be some tricks your tax preparer knows that some piece of almost-free software doesn’t know (there aren’t).
So here’s what we’re going to do: even though Wealthsimple Tax is built to be so intuitive you don’t need any help at all, we’re going to take you through the process so you can decide if doing your own taxes is a good choice. (For almost everyone, it is.)
Step one: take a look at yourself and ask, “Do I look like a corporation in these pants?”
All you need is a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet and you’ve got what you need to use Wealthsimple Tax. It works whether you’re single or married (or have a common-law partner), or filing jointly or separately (Wealthsimple Tax will automatically sniff out ways for couples to save on taxes, like recommending the best way to split pension income). It works for pretty much any Canadian who pays taxes, whether you’re a full-time employee, a member of the gig economy, a small business or rental property owner, or a Canadian who works or invests outside the country.
Everyone except non-Canadian residents. And corporations. If you’re a corporation, you can’t use Wealthsimple Tax. And very few other exceptions, which you can triple-check here.
Step two: make sure you have about an hour.
What’s Wealthsimple Tax? It’s is an interactive website where you fill in some blanks and answer a series of questions. Think of it like filling out a personality quiz on BuzzFeed except at the end you’ve done your taxes and the government usually sends you some money. If you have a simple return, the whole process takes, on average, about 30 minutes and just about everyone finishes in about an hour.
So on average, plan on spending between 1/8 of a sourdough-bread-making-time and an episode of “Bridgerton.”
Step three: get all those documents you’d normally bring to your tax guy's office.
This includes your T4s, T4As, T5s, RRSP receipts, etc. (See our handy checklist here!) Also, having last year’s Notice of Assessment might come in handy.
Step four: log into Wealthsimple Tax.
This one’s easy. Go to wealthsimple.com/tax. If you’re a previous SimpleTax user, then you’ll be guided through a simple onboarding process to either create a new Wealthsimple account or connect an existing one. We’ll then import the info you’ll need to start your 2020 filing.
If you’ve never used SimpleTax, you’ll just create an account (we’ll guide you through it), or you can log in with your Wealthsimple username and password if you’ve got one. Next, you’ll be invited to fill in your basics — name, address, social insurance number, marital status, and whether you have any dependents.
At any time, you can log out and we’ll save what you’ve already entered.
Step five: decide if you want to do a quick interview or if you want to be your own guide.
If you have a CRA My Account you can have Wealthsimple Tax autofill most of your slips (it’s a free country, so if you really want to, you can fill in all those little boxes yourself). That’ll instantly take you a great distance toward being done. From there, you have a choice: you can guide yourself or have Wealthsimple Tax guide you. If you want the extra guidance, click “Answer a few questions“ and you’ll be taken through a quick battery of questions like, "What slips did you receive?" and "Did you receive income from a rental property?" Wealthsimple Tax will use your answers to fill in the rest of your forms. Most folks use what’s known as the “Search Bar Method” (at least that’s what they tend to call it). That means they use the search bar to find the part of the tax forms they’re looking for. (The most commonly searched terms are “charitable donation,” “RRSP," and "T4" — if that helps you understand how people use the search function).
Step six: if you get confused at any point, you can ask for help.
We know the whole point of using this software, besides saving a few hundred bucks, is that you don’t have to interact with anyone. But if you need some guidance, you can search our FAQs. Still not sure what to do? Email our team of actual humans at email@example.com. They are located right here in Canada and they’ll respond ASAP.
Step seven: let the computer brain tell you if you’ve made a mistake.
When you’re all done with your return (or think you’re done), click the “check & optimize” button. Wealthsimple Tax will scan your return and suggest possible ways to save money — for instance, if you don't need all of your RRSPs this year, it'll carry them forward for you instead of using them. It’s up to you whether you want to adopt or dismiss any of these suggestions.
Step eight: file instantly and get your money sooner.
When you click "Submit," your return will instantly hurtle through the internet tubes straight to the CRA and your (hopefully) sweet refund will land in your bank account soon. (If you’ve set up direct deposit with the CRA, you can expect your refund in about two weeks. If you haven't, it'll take four to six weeks to get your cheque). You’ll also have the option of downloading a PDF of your return for your files.
Step nine: decide how much to pay Wealthsimple Tax.
Once you’re finished, Wealthsimple Tax will ask you how much you want to pay them for doing such a bang-up job on your tax return. Unlike an accountant, the fee isn’t fixed and it isn’t based on how much time it took. Even though it’s an honour system, most users end up paying what they can for it, so they must be happy.
Wealthsimple uses technology and smart, friendly humans to help you grow and manage your money. Invest, save, trade, and even do your taxes in a better, simpler way.