Friday, 20 April 2007

Review: #1 Web Tax Software

To follow up yesterday's summary rating of various web-based tax preparation software packages for Canadian taxes, here is what I liked and disliked about the best of the lot -, which scored 9.5 out of 10.

I've included a screen capture of the program.

What I Liked:
  • before creating an account, it does an automated check of browser compatibility for such things as SSL 128-bit encryption, Javascript, cookies, pop-ups and acrobat to ensure problem-free operation
  • the left-side menu shows everything that has been entered so far and provides easy navigational access back and forth
  • the font choices, sizes, colours, use of white space, box reference numbers are clear and easy to read
  • the ubiqitous ? mini-button beside virtually every conceivable spot where one might have a question is better by far than what any other package has and the help it leads to is complete; often there are direct links to the CRA website so one can read the original source for oneself.
  • the program is so well organized I did not need to refer to the Tutorial at all, though it's there for re-assurance
  • the explanations and guidance are well written - no awkward phrases, no grammar and spelling mistakes as seen in some of the other programs
  • the program response is extremely fast, almost as good as working on a home PC with an installed package; those 10-15 second waits for the server to refresh the screen can add up and make the tax entry exercise slow and frustrating; to me, this is a major element, fast response is table stakes
  • there's even a free-form notes and reminders-to-self section - good for doing the return over a number of days to mark where one got to or to note missing receipts for later follow up; little touches like this are a sign of a mature program where all the basics work fine and they have time for extras
  • if your line 150 Total Income is under $25k, it's free; same goes for students as the Canadian Federation of Students has a deal with UFile.
What I Disliked (not much!)
  • pricing is a bit strange with $15.95 for an individual return or $24.95 for a whole family; I have university students dependants who have income and this means I will have to pay the $24.95 (instead of $14.95 for my return alone), though individually each student would be under the $25k free limit and so would be free.
  • it's the second priciest after QuickTaxWeb
  • maybe they could add a "this is your Payable/Refund" monitor to amuse us as we go along entering data?


Anonymous said...

I think you should consider reviewing AceTax again,
This is one of the best Tax softwares I have ever used.

CanadianInvestor said...

Thanks, I will have a look. It's time to do an update and see what's new in the web packages.

Anonymous said...

I AM REALLY FRUSTRATED WITH UFILE ONLINE VERSION! They have a software bug (I have worked around computers for 30 years so I should be somewhat credible).

I’ve used Ufile Online for many years with no problems but this year they are driving me crazy. My problem is the property tax is transferring twice to the On 479 tax form (but only shows being entered once in interview section). Ufile responded today……….one week since I emailed them (they should be responding faster than this). Someone is lazy and isn’t looking at the actual tax forms! I have told them that the information in the interview section appears to be correct, from what I can see, but it’s the actual tax form On 479 that has the error. But I get a silly response back:

“You[sic] property tax credits reported only once on Schedule On 479. You will find it in Tax return section of (my husband’s name)”.

I’ve now sent them a clipboard copy of the particular page – On 479. I've paid for their service but I fear I will end up using some other software so I can finally Netfile our tax returns. (Good chance the people responding on help line probably earn barely over minimum wage, have very little computer knowledge, and don’t really care?)

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