The advantage of these Web-based programs is that the return is available through any computer connected to the web. Presumably the data is better protected than it would be on the average home computer - i.e. it is backed up and sits behind some sort of firewall in a secure data center. However, none of the companies explain exactly how well they do this job, whether they meet ISO specs or have been IT-security audited. At the end of the preparation process, all the companies allow the download to one's own computer of a pdf containing the paper form image as well as the .tax file to upload to the CRA.
A convenient list of these and the regular on-PC packages is on Wikipedia under Canadian Tax Preparation Software for Personal Use. For all the packages I tested using real data though the intent was not to test tax situations but ease of use, understandability, help features, navigation and speed to figure out value for money - Wikipedia gives all the prices.
Here are my ratings out of 10 on the packages:
- uFile.ca - 9.0 Slick, polished, fast, the winner but by less than last year; good value, free for students or under $20k family income
- CuteTax - 8.5 Clean and clear interface, fast, solid product; free for under $25k income
- AceTax - 8.0 Works fine; good value for money, tied with WebTax4U - 8.0 Some quality control issues and slightly clunky but works fine and with H&R Block - 8.0 Slick and quick but pricey and the user agreement allows them to market their other products and services to you.
- QuickTaxWeb - 7.5 Polished but very slow response, overpriced and doesn't support Firefox version 1.5 (used on Ubuntu Linux)
- EachTax - 7.0 Looks like paper forms, sacrifices some ease of use
- MBOTax - 7.0 Serviceable but not very user friendly
- eTaxCanada - 5.0 Program didn't seem to work properly in 2007 - barely better in 2008; still awkward, frustrating and slow
- FileTaxOnline - 5.0 Good for a laugh: home page has button for "Techincal Support" Why bother with it for $9.89 if there are better cheaper alternatives?