Taxes are an essential part of living in a society, enabling everything from public education to roads to healthcare. Income tax is the annual responsibility of every Canadian, even if you have no income. While some tax filings are straightforward, others are a bit more nuanced.
Anything from delayed filing to an input error to a miscalculation can result in issues with Revenue Canada. From missed refunds to audits, the repercussions of tax-filing issues are serious. Thankfully, there’s certainly no shortage of tax-filing apps and software — GenuTax being one of them. This article breaks down everything you need to know about GenuTax, so you can determine if it’s the best way to file your taxes.
Who Is GenuTax?
An entirely free software for Canadians to complete their annual income tax returns, GenuTax makes taxes accessible to anyone with a PC that meets the basic necessary specs. Meeting all the Canadian regulatory standards, it is wholly owned by GenuSource Consulting. An Ontario-based company, it was incorporated in 2002 and focuses on tax technology. Though GenuTax is headquartered out of Kanata, the company offers tax SaaS across the nation.
In order to offer a viable service, GenuTax crafted a software with a range of user-friendly features. The main focus of the technology is intuitiveness; making tax-filing that much easier for consumers. While it is far from the only company offering these services, it aims to stand out through different features such as:
- Netfile Certified: First and foremost, for a software to be a viable way to file your taxes, it must be recognized by Netfile. It is the technology used by Revenue Canada. To legally operate, the company must work together with NETFILE. It is the onus of the company to obtain this certification, just as it is the responsibility of the tax filer to check that it is up to date. The software certification must be obtained for every filing year, and the most recent year for which GenuTax has it is the 2020 tax year.
- Free of Charge: Another welcome feature of the GenuTax software is that it comes at no cost. The software is entirely free to use, though the company does accept donations for the service. Keep in mind that this is a for-profit corporation; and, as such, you will not get a tax receipt for any donation.
- File Multiple Years: In addition to coming at no charge, the software lets you file returns for several years at the same time. You can complete your return for any year between 2003 and 2020 inclusively. Considering that many paid services charge extra for this, the multiyear feature is both convenient and cost-effective.
- Step-By-Step Interview: One of the more intimidating parts of tax filing is the nature of the documents required. It can be overwhelming and confusing. To counter this, the GenuTax software takes you through a simple, concise interview process. It takes your information in a more conversational manner. This allows you to fill in the details, without any confusion.
- Up To 20 Tax Returns: With GenuTax Standard, the free service offered by this company, you can file up to 20 different tax returns. This means that you can prepare the income tax returns for 20 individuals.
- Tax Situations: While you aren’t likely to use GenuTax for a multimillion dollar corporation, it can handle most standard tax scenarios. These include rental property income, small business matters, capital gains, and others. There are, however, several restrictions to the service. Members of certain agricultural incentive programs, those with out of province businesses, and tax returns for years surrounding bankruptcies are not supported by this software.
- Auto-Fill: Revenue Canada already has your income statement forms, as it is the legal obligation of the employer to send them along. The auto-fill component of GenuTax fills in the details of your tax return on your behalf. It saves you from having to check and type. Instead, you simply need to look over the information and make any necessary alterations.
- Express NOA: Though there is still a process before you actually get a return, GenuTax allows you to see the Notice of Assessment right after filing. The service is available for every year from 2017 to 2020 inclusively. This tells you whether you owe, can expect a return, and details other specifics like GST qualification.
- ReFile: In situations where you must make a change to a tax statement you’ve already filed with Revenue Canada, this feature becomes extremely useful. It allows you to make a revision to previous paperwork while retaining access to all the records. Plus, instead of filing revisions via snail mail, you can do it far more efficiently.
There are a few restrictions to the GenuTax Standard plan. It is designed to handle straightforward tax returns; and, as such, cannot accommodate more nuanced returns. For example, farmers taking part in AgriInvest or AgriStability programs cannot partake. Businesses with locations outside of the province cannot file on this system either. Additionally, Nova Scotia Research and Development Credit recapturing is not covered by this plan.
Other situations where you cannot file a return include post- or pre-bankruptcy bank returns. It’s also worth noting that the software does not support Form T1135. This refers to the Foreign Income Verification Statement. So, if you need to file this, it must be done separately, where you download it and mail the completed version to the CRA headquarters in Winnipeg.
The software does not support Quebec returns, only federal, so any Revenu Quebec returns must be filed separately. Any other restrictions noted on the CRA website also preclude you from filing a return, and refiling is subject to a lot of other requirements. Finally, the software is available only for personal use. You cannot sell the service to another individual or use the service to file on their behalf.
GenuTax Pros And Cons
Choosing a tax-filing service is a matter of risk management; weighing the benefits against disadvantages. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to taxes, but analyzing each option lets you make a fully informed choice.
- The software is entirely free of charge. You can offer a donation, but you can file up to 20 returns without paying a dime.
- Certified by Netfile, the software is safe to use and recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency.
- Refiling options allow you to make adjustments to previous years if necessary. This can be a challenging process otherwise, so the service adds ample convenience.
- Autofill is a very convenient perk that comes with GenuTax.
- There is no in-person or telephone support available. You can only access customer support through email, making it difficult to deal with any issues that may arise.
- The software only works with Windows, leaving Mac users, and those relying on smartphones, unable to return.
- GenuTax lacks any advanced tools, something offered by competitors at no extra charge.
- Only suitable to the most basic tax returns, since it lacks a refund-tracker or any kind of optimization tool.
Is GenuTax NETFILE certified?
What is GenuTax Standard?
GenuTax, while a decent software, is one of the most basic of its kind. Though the fact that it is available free of charge is handy, it doesn’t compensate for the lack of features. The sheer number of downsides to this service shrink it in comparison to competitors. It won’t allow you to fill out a Revenu Quebec return, so any resident of that province would have to complete two separate returns.
As it is only compatible with PC devices, GenuTax lacks the finesse of more modern options. While it can get the job done, there are many other programs with more to offer for the same price. That said, what matters most is that you file on time; so, as long as your device can support the software, it is a legal and usable solution.