Hello Canada; It’s Tax Time Again!

Accountant in a Cafe

UX for Tax Software.

If tax departments in governments fully embraced the need for excellent Citizen Experience Design, then people would not complain so much about having to do them. Most of the tax commercials emphasize the pain people go through at tax time to promote their services. Has the tax filing experience improved now that citizens are embracing digital solutions?

In some countries citizens don’t “do” taxes. The governments take the money off their¬†pay checks and that’s the end of it. No further accounting required. Many citizens would like to have this model adopted, except that many also receive money back when they do their taxes, and are afraid they would lose this extra cash bump in the spring. In my case, any money I get back in Federal taxes then immediately gets eaten up by my Municipal Property taxes.

In Canada there are many free options for filing your taxes online that are certified to work with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

This year I tried “Simple Tax (AT)” as it was free, online and had the T1135, Auto-fill and Express NOA options, and as we all know, more is better ūüôā

Of course from a UX point of view, few citizens will know what “Express NOA”, or “T1135” are, but that’s another story (explanation at the bottom of this post). When I asked my daughter what she thought “Express NOA” was she thought hard, then said; “Noah built an Ark, so my guess is that it’s an Express Ferry boat of some sort.” Not an unreasonable guess out of context, but when I told her it had something to do with taxes, she had no clue.

“Autofill” does sound vaguely promising if it would work reliably. I’ve heard anecdotally from a few who tried it, that they couldn’t get it to work.

After filling out some basic registration screens for Simple Tax, the main part of the task was transferring the amounts and numbers (12 entries) off my “T4 Statement of Renumeration Paid” into the appropriately numbered boxes in the Simple Tax interface. After double checking that I entered the numbers properly, I hit “Submit” and I was done. All said and done, it was relatively easy process and my refund will be direct deposited into my bank account within 2 weeks. (Unless of course I’m not signed up for direct deposit; I’ll have to check that once I get the password to the¬†CRA “MyAccount” mailed to me.)

“Auto-fill” is a new option from the CRA¬†which theoretically would have automatically populated the 12 entries into the Simple Tax software. Unfortunately I could not access “MyAccount” in CRA as I signed up for it too late, and they still are sending the confirmation passwords via snail mail.

Below is a list of all of the free options available:

Product name

Certified 2016 tax year Category Certified prior  years Services
SimpleTax (AT) Yes Online 2015, 2014, 2013 T1135, Auto-fill & Express NOA
StudioTax for Windows Yes Desktop 2015, 2014, 2013 T1135, Auto-fill & Express NOA
TurboTax Free – iPad/iPhone Yes Mobile 2015 Auto-fill
AdvTax (MR) Yes Online 2015, 2014, 2013 T1135, Auto-fill & Express NOA
H&R Block Online Tax Software (MR) Yes Online 2015 T1135
TurboTax Free РAndroid Yes Mobile 2015 Auto-fill
TurboTax Free for Windows Yes Desktop 2015 T1135 & Auto-fill
SimpleTax РiPad Yes Mobile 2015, 2014, 2013 T1135, Auto-fill & Express NOA
TurboTax Free Online (MR) Yes Online 2015 Auto-fill
StudioTax for Mac Yes Desktop 2015, 2014, 2013 T1135, Auto-fill & Express NOA
GenuTax Standard for Windows Yes Desktop 2015, 2014, 2013  No Data

Service Descriptions:

T1135: If you have Foreign Income 

If you have fully registered for MyAccount at CRA then Auto-Fill is a viable option

Express Notice of Assessment (NOA) is only available to you if:


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