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How to File Your 2018 Tax Returns for Free in Canada

How to File Your 2018 Tax Returns for Free in Canada

By Simon Hung

The 2019 tax season is officially here and the Canada Revenue Agency has started accepting 2018 tax returns, with the deadline for most Canadian personal income tax returns falling on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

The once-time-consuming chore has become a (mostly) painless experience in recent years thanks to NETFILE and easy-to-use software, with online filings accounting for 90% of all Canadian tax returns last year.

Luckily, there are several NETFILE-certified programs available that can instantly file your return to the CRA, so you won't have to pull a Homer at the last minute. Here's a list of free software certified for the 2018 tax year.

Free Programs
Program
Platforms
Features
Web
• Auto-fill available
• Express notice of assessment
• ReFILE available for 2017 and 2018
• All software features are free
Windows
• Auto-fill available
• Express notice of assessment
• ReFILE available for 2018
• All software features are free, Pay What You Want donations accepted
Web, Windows
• Auto-fill available (Windows only)
• Express notice of assessment
• ReFILE available for 2018
• Some extra features require paid upgrades
Web
• Auto-fill available
• Express notice of assessment
• ReFILE available for 2016, 2017 and 2018
• Mobile app available for iOS
• All software features are free, Pay What You Want donations accepted
Mac, Windows
• Auto-fill available
• Express notice of assessment
• ReFILE available for 2017 and 2018
• All software features are free, Pay What You Want donations accepted
Mac, Web, Windows
• Auto-fill available
• Express notice of assessment
• ReFILE available for 2017 (excluding app version) and 2018
• Mobile app available for iOS
• Some extra features require paid upgrades

For reference, TurboTax, SimpleTax and StudioTax were the top three choices among RedFlagDeals readers in an informal poll taken last year, but you can vote in our poll below to find out which options are most popular this year.

Things to Remember

  • All free programs offer a maximum of 20 returns per computer
  • Traditionalists can find paper T1 tax forms at Canada Post and Service Canada outlets
  • Low or fixed income Canadians have the option to file via telephone for free
  • The deadline for self-employed individuals to file their taxes is midnight on June 17, 2019
  • Read our quick tip to see how to check which federal and provincial credits you may be eligible to receive
  • The CRA will never, ever, ever, ever call, text or email you for personal information or demand a payment with prepaid gift cards

Finally, be wary of "free to start" programs, which are prevalent during tax season and can prepare your taxes for free, but require a payment to file with the CRA -- all programs we've listed will prepare and file your tax return for free. Calc-you-later!



Corrections: this article was updated March 4 to include GenuTax, as the software was not officially certified for the 2018 tax year until after publication.

9 Comments

    • Genutax is good. H&R i did online and they didnt even submit after it said submitted and to top it off they deleted all the information. They didnt respond at all they did was refund my $10(after I lodged a couple of complaints)
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    • I gave up on TurboTax years ago and made the switch to SimpleTax. It's been great. Easy to use and great support. I don't mind giving them a donation at all. Free isn't really what I am looking for.
    • Report Post
    • Traditionalists...my camp for the meantime. Mailed my return on Feb. 1 and on Mar.7, the notice of assessment was posted in My Account on the CRA site.
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    • "The NETFILE service will be open until Friday, January 24, 2020. "
      What happens after January 24 2020?...
    • Report Post
    • Have always used Intuit in the past (Quicktax then Turbotax) but might try free Studio Tax this year.
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    • Been using Studiotax for 5 years. Great program. Up to 20 returns . Simple to use with good help files. Validate return, hints built in.
    • Report Post
    • I have been using StudioTax for several years and am happy with its straight forward interface. It might not be as pretty as some other tax software I've bought and used in the past but I find it easier to use because of that. Great tax software - never had any issues.
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    • I have been using StudioTax for several years and am happy with its straight forward interface. It might not be as pretty as some other tax software I've bought and used in the past but I find it easier to use because of that. Great tax software - never had any issues.
    • Report Post