Opinion » Cybernaut


Taxes no longer taxing



A few years ago I resolved to never do my own taxes again.

It was the eve of Revenue Canada’s tax submission deadline, and I had a whole piled of receipts, T4’s, student loan statements to crunch through those unclear and needlessly complicated tax forms. It took three attempts, going through the process soup to nuts, and I came out with three completely different results – one that saw me getting a lot back, one that saw me paying a lot more, and one in the middle that seemed a little more reasonable but that I knew was probably wrong.

I lost my temper several times during the ordeal, snapping pencil leads, and banged my head against the desk. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find my teeth-marks on the guide.

Before that year my mother had always done my taxes for me, making sure that I got as much back as possible to put towards my education. She also used to have to pay for a math tutor back in high school, so she probably didn’t have a lot of confidence in the left side of my brain.

Rather than go through the whole emotional turmoil a fourth time, I decided to take my taxes to a pro. For a small fee, she took my stack of papers, tapped a few figures into the computer, and produced an accurate computer printout of my situation. A click of the button later and my records were sent to Revenue Canada.

Six hours of hell were condensed into about 20 minutes. I saw the light, and it was pixelated.

Although being an accountant helps, tax software is easy to use and getting easier every year. For myself – down to just one job and one student loan – I could probably get through taxes in less than 10 minutes. That’s still twice as long as an ordinary person would take, but it’s worth it to me.

Revenue Canada – sorry, it’s the Canada Revenue Agency now for some reason – is actively pushing it’s automated services, including it’s online NETFILE service, the EFILE e-mail filing service, and the TELEFILE touch-tone phone filing service.

With all these options, you’d have to masochist to do your taxes the old fashioned way, yet almost 80 per cent of residents in B.C. and the Yukon did just that. Suckers…

To do your taxes online this year, you have a several good options.

Once again the favourite going into the tax season is Intuit Canada’s QuickTax Standard (www.quicktax.ca), which retails for about $40.

This program no longer comes with a $10 rebate, but the makers have included QuickWealth Retirement Planner in the bundle.