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How to File Your Income Taxes for Free in Canada

How to File Your Income Taxes for Free in Canada

By Simon Hung

Tax season is officially here and the Canada Revenue Agency has started accepting tax returns for the 2021 calendar year, with the deadline for most Canadian personal income tax returns falling on April 30, 2022.

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.

There are several free programs available that can instantly file your return to the CRA, so you won't have to panic-file at the last minute à la Homer Simpson – here's a list of free NETFILE-certified tax programs you can use to file your tax returns this year.

No payment is required to file T1 personal tax returns with these programs, but some accept "pay what you want" donations after filing, including GenuTax and Wealthsimple Tax. Free programs offer a maximum of 20 returns per computer and most are fully-featured, but some offer paid upgrades to unlock additional features.

Historically, TurboTax and Wealthsimple Tax have been the top choices among RedFlagDeals readers, while other popular options from previous years – notably AdxTax and StudioTax – are still available for 2021, but now require a fee to file your taxes with the CRA.

Additional Tax Tips

  • 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 June 15
  • The CRA will never, ever, ever, ever call, text or email you for personal information or demand a payment with prepaid gift cards

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Editor's note: this article was originally published in 2016 and updated on March 1, 2022 to reflect the most up-to-date options

39 Comments

    • I used studiotax till 2020, then switched to simple.

      No sense paying for something you don't need to
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    • I have been using genutax for many years
      not the prettiest interface but it gets the job done
    • Report Post
    • I used studiotax till 2020, then switched to simple.

      No sense paying for something you don't need to
      I pay for Studiotax because I like it and I also like the fact that all my personal info, including my sin number is on my local computer and not online. The less servers that have my info on them the better.
    • Report Post
    • I wonder if the studiotax app hack will still work.
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    • I wonder if the studiotax app hack will still work.
      It's only $15 for 20 returns which is still pretty reasonable, if you're income is under $20k for the year it's still free.

      As @truckmania mentioned, I'd prefer to keep my tax data in as few places as possible, I also have the usual "if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer" concerns with the free online services.
    • Report Post
    • I too paid the $15 + tax last year to get StudioTax even though we don't have many returns. Been using it so many years. It's very reasonable price to pay. And their support is first grade!
    • Report Post
    • I pay for Studiotax because I like it and I also like the fact that all my personal info, including my sin number is on my local computer and not online.
      Your social insurance number number?

      How exactly does that information get transmitted to the CRA? Carrier pigeon?

      People thinking there's any privacy on any electronic device is just one big laugh nowadays. NSA has entered the chat
    • Report Post
    • I also have the usual "if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer" concerns with the free online services.
      Ironic that you don't seem to think there's any concerns since studio tax was also free for the last million years
    • Report Post
    • Your social insurance number number?

      How exactly does that information get transmitted to the CRA? Carrier pigeon?

      People thinking there's any privacy on any electronic device is just one big laugh nowadays. NSA has entered the chat
      He isn't saying his method is full proof, just that by keeping sensitive information only stored on his local computer and the CRA website it decreases the chance of his personal information being compromised.
    • Report Post
    • i wonder if studiotax paid last year still work for 2021?
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    • I too paid $15 to StudioTax considering how much Accountants charge for each return, $15 is nothing.
    • Report Post
    • Switched from Ufile to SimpleTax a few years ago and I love it, easy to use, fits my needs. It's free but I "donate" $15 per return.
    • Report Post
    • Your social insurance number number?

      How exactly does that information get transmitted to the CRA? Carrier pigeon?

      People thinking there's any privacy on any electronic device is just one big laugh nowadays. NSA has entered the chat
      If you want to provide your sin number, address, income and anything else to any website that asks for it then go ahead. I try to protect mine as much as possible and one less website having it is a good thing. I still have to file taxes but don't need my returns stored in a cloud somewhere on the server of a random company. But you do you and if you don't care then I won't judge you.
    • Report Post
    • any recommendations for first time stock investor? I have TFSA and a cash account.
    • Report Post
    • any recommendations for first time stock investor? I have TFSA and a cash account.
      Studiotax will work for stocks (and small businesses as well). It's just a little less user friendly than other software. You don't pay tax on TFSA but margin account will need to be accounted for if you have realized gains.
    • Report Post
    • I used studiotax till 2020, then switched to simple.

      No sense paying for something you don't need to
      Is there an easy way to transfer data over from StudioTax?
    • Report Post
    • Ironic that you don't seem to think there's any concerns since studio tax was also free for the last million years
      It was never free, it was donationware before going to the current paid model. They also do not store any of your personal data.
      Is there an easy way to transfer data over from StudioTax?
      Here's what you'll need, note that some of it can be autofilled from your My CRA account: https://help.simpletax.ca/questions/switch-to-simpletax
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    • Your social insurance number number?

      How exactly does that information get transmitted to the CRA? Carrier pigeon?

      People thinking there's any privacy on any electronic device is just one big laugh nowadays. NSA has entered the chat
      The correct term is letter carrier if one is worried about transmitting data over the internets®. Print out your return, send it by mail (or drop off at the CRA).

      That said, I am not sure what all information is sent via the webz from your computer to the CRA. But unlikely that it could be hacked.

      As for these online services, no guarantee that your information won’t be hacked.
    • Report Post
    • Used genutax after studiotax got greedy last year, think it's the only option that doesn't require uploading all your info to cloud
    • Report Post
    • I've used simpletax for the last few years. Free, easy, works well. Any reason NOT to keep using it?
    • Report Post
    • Isn't TurobTax free too if your tax return is simple?
    • Report Post
    • simpleTax now owned by WealthSimple, you should not dotate any money to them, as they make billionssssss
    • Report Post
    • Been using SimpleTax for the past 6 years, just simply like it :)
    • Report Post
  • bug
    • Isn't TurobTax free too if your tax return is simple?
      Yes they have an online free edition I've been using the last few years.
    • Report Post
    • I've used simpletax for the last few years. Free, easy, works well. Any reason NOT to keep using it?
      A reason is if you fear that Wealthsimple is data-mining you and/or having your tax info being stored on the cloud.
    • Report Post
    • Their free version is equivalent to which edition of local copy e.g platinum
      Yes they have an online free edition I've been using the last few years.
    • Report Post
    • simpleTax now owned by WealthSimple, you should not dotate any money to them, as they make billionssssss
      This is just silly. They are valued at billions but they don't even make revenue of $100M/year. Profits? Probably not even $20M/year. I love how the moment they're owned by a profit-generating company, even if they barely make any profits for their size, it automatically means they're evil.
    • Report Post
    • This is just silly. They are valued at billions but they don't even make revenue of $100M/year. Profits? Probably not even $20M/year. I love how the moment they're owned by a profit-generating company, even if they barely make any profits for their size, it automatically means they're evil.
      Honestly, I'd be surprised if they were profitable at all right now. The promotions they've had over the past year or two has been nuts. They've been literally giving a shit ton of money away trying to get people onto their platforms.
    • Report Post
    • I used studiotax till 2020, then switched to simple.

      No sense paying for something you don't need to
      Did you notice any downside of using SimpleTax? (ie e-mail from them or any other annoying things?)

      I mean I am already with wealthsimple so this might make sense to use this if it allows me to easily import the investment statements.
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    • There is another thread for Ufile tax software for those paying 15 for studio tax.

      ufile-ca-ufile-2021-windows-14-99-after ... r-2505745/
      Used Ufile last year, was using Studiotax the prior years. I personally will not go back to Ufile. It was impossible to review where the figures where been entered into the return until you finalize it and even then, Ufile did stuff without telling you where they where putting the figures. Not something I like in a tax software where I am responsible for any mistakes that Ufile might do.

      Since I only used one license, I got my neighbour to try it too (senior couple). Ufile did some funky stuff on their returns while transferring income from one person to the other without any control on his side. He basically got the same issue that I did with entering figures but no control where the numbers are going or how they are been used. Ufile might be ok for a simple tax return, but it's not for me.

      I'll probably either go Studiotax or Simpletax, depends on how cheap I want to be vs keeping all my data on my pc.
    • Report Post
    • It's only $15 for 20 returns which is still pretty reasonable, if you're income is under $20k for the year it's still free.

      As @truckmania mentioned, I'd prefer to keep my tax data in as few places as possible, I also have the usual "if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer" concerns with the free online services.
      make sense
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    • Which is the easiest to use for a tax newbie?
      Suggestion?
    • Report Post
    • Personal I like SimpleTax a lot
    • Report Post
    • Used 1 of my 20 licenses last year with StudioTax... Will probably do the same again this year.
    • Report Post
    • Used genutax after studiotax got greedy last year, think it's the only option that doesn't require uploading all your info to cloud
      Greedy! Are you serious? $15 for more returns than the average individual needs to file is nothing. You can't even go to the movies for that price! Do you really expect these developers to work for free? Would you work for free? Do you think genutax is going to remain free?

      My only concern with them starting to charge is that they're probably trying to post revenue in a bid to prove their value. I predict studiotax will sell out to one of the bigger players in the next 2-3 years.
    • Report Post
    • Looks like Turbo Tax has a free option this year ( was that always there ? ). Am I the only one who uses turbo tax?
    • Report Post
    • For studiotax, can the 20 licenses be shared with friends and family?
    • Report Post