Can You File Your Taxes For Free?

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Can You File Your Taxes For Free?

Written by Chrissy Kapralos
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood

Can You File Your Taxes For Free?

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Tax Season Tax Software Taxes

Money has the power to bring us joy and anxiety at the same time. In 2018, 48% of Canadians reported losing sleep over financial worries. Taxes fall into those financial worries. Dreaded by everyone, tax time can cause consumers to adopt an unhealthy tendency of avoidance. The stress of filing taxes encourages people to put it off for a while, making the whole situation even more stressful. Not only are taxes more complicated for some businesses and contractors, but the cost of hiring an accountant might also be a financial burden. To deal with your taxes, it’s best to file early and prepare yourself as much as possible to ensure you don’t leave everything to the last minute. If you’re financially strapped this year, consider filing your taxes for free by following these steps.  

Too much stress? Check out these tips on dealing with financial stress.

Can You File Your Taxes For Free in Canada?

Yes – fortunately, you can file your taxes for free. There are two main ways to do this in Canada, either by NETFILE or EFILE. 

NETFILE

NETFILE is the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) online service that allows individuals to file their personal taxes electronically. Available 21 hours a day, NETFILE has a wide eligibility range allowing most individuals to file. Some restrictions apply, however, such as for individuals who have declared bankruptcy and non-residents of Canada. 

NETFILE allows you to file your taxes and to send your income tax and benefit return all online through a NETFILE-certified tax software. This essentially just means a CRA-approved app or website, like Turbo Tax or Wealth Simple Tax, both of which are free. The simple process confirms when the CRA has received your tax filing and allows you to receive your tax refund within 2 weeks via direct deposit. Moreover, you usually don’t need to submit any receipts unless the CRA requests them later on in the process. 

Learn how to open a CRA My Account.

EFILE

EFILE is similar to NETFILE in the way that it allows you to file taxes on an online platform. The main difference however is that EFILE isn’t for individuals filing their personal taxes – it’s for tax preparation service providers or discounters to file taxes on behalf of someone else. By tax preparation service providers, we mean accountants who file on behalf of their clients. Discounters are tax prep providers who offer their service at a discount.  It’s important to note that corporations cannot file their T2 tax return via EFILE. 

Benefits of Filing Your Taxes Online

While accountants and other tax preparation service providers may have more experience in filing taxes, filing them on your own has a few benefits. 

Cost-Friendly

There are two types of tax software you can file your taxes through – paid or free software. If you opt for a free software, filing your taxes is completely free so you save the money you would have spent every year on an accountant. 

Fast Tax Filing

Since you don’t need to attach receipts (unless the CRA requests them), filing your taxes online is a quick process. Moreover, you can receive your tax refund as quickly as two weeks from your file date. 

Check out if you have any uncashed cheques from the CRA.

Secure and Accurate

Using NETFILE is secure and accurate. The CRA ensures confidentiality and that unauthorized persons can’t access your information. The CRA’s encrypted format also ensures hackers can’t view or alter your information. 

The NETFILE-certified tax software lets you file your taxes directly, which ensures a greater degree of accuracy and fewer errors. 

Easy to Use

The software available for filing are user-friendly and have auto-fill functions, making the platforms easy to use and intuitive, even for people who might not be so tech-savvy. 

Ways to File Taxes For Free in Canada

Luckily, there are many ways to file your taxes online for free in Canada, even if you’re a beginner when it comes to taxes. The following companies are CRA-approved providers of tax software that allows you to file your taxes for free. 

TurboTax

TurboTax has been ranked Canada’s top tax-filing software for the past 20 years. Though premium versions are not free, they are typically recommended for individuals with more complicated taxes, like contractors and self-employed people. Turbo Tax has a free version that is suitable for the average consumer. Certified by NETFILE, TurboTax offers:

  • 20 free returns per year
  • Maximum refund and 100% accuracy guarantee
  • TLS encryption for maximum security of information
  • Easy access to notice of assessment
  • Autofill from CRA My Account
  • Access for Quebec residents 

H&R Block

H&R Block has been a popular tax service provider for Canadians for the past few decades. With multiple offices in most Canadian cities, as well as an online software to file online, H&R Block is a convenient and trusted filing resource. Although they have premium options to include perks like tech support and transferring last year’s taxes, their free service is NETFILE-certified and includes the following:

  • Maximum Refund
  • User-Friendly online platform
  • Online help centre
  • Auto-fill to transfer taxes from CRA and Revenu Quebec

Do you have a child? Check out these tax credits for parents.

Wealthsimple Tax

Acquired by WealthSimple in 2019, SimpleTax was founded in 2012 and was the first software to offer Canadians a “pay-what-you-want” model. WealthSimple Tax offers the following services free of charge:

  • User-friendly software and app
  • Guarantee of 100% accuracy
  • Up to 20 refunds per year
  • “Pay-what-you-want” model
  • Quick refund receipt, within 8 days through direct deposit
  • Secure platform protecting personal information

Check out which receipts you should keep for your taxes

UFile

With 20 years of tax experience in Canada, UFile is a NETFILE-certified tax software accessible to all Canadians, including those in Quebec. Though not all features are free to everyone UFile offers free service to:

  • Students
  • Individuals filing simple returns (only one employment or pension income)
  • Newcomers to Canada filing their first return
  • Low-Income Taxpayer (under $20,000 in income)

Upon meeting the above eligibility requirements, UFile offers free filing services with a maximum refund and accuracy guarantee, as well as security of information. 

Learn how to file your taxes as a couple.

Free Tax Clinics

Canada has various free tax clinics with volunteers to help you file if you have a “simple” tax scenario (one employment or pension income), and have a low to modest income. If you bring the necessary documents, including tax slips and personal identification, a volunteer will help you file at any of the listed clinics. This service is also available to residents of Quebec.

Bottom Line

Tax time doesn’t need to be a season for avoidance and stress. Depending on your financial and tax situation, you can find free tax filing services from a variety of providers.


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Chrissy is a Toronto-based communications advisor. With an English degree from the University of Toronto and editing courses under her belt from Ryerson University, she has continued her lifelong passion for writing and editing. In addition to working for Loans Canada on a variety of financial topics, Chrissy has a few years of resume writing and editing under her belt, and takes great pleasure in helping people find work that fits with their experience and passions. When she isn't working, you can find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her dog, reading up on financial and real estate news, or planning her next trip abroad.

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