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What TurboTax Has That Other Tax Software Doesn’t

What TurboTax has that other tax software doesn’t

This article was sponsored by TurboTax.

Filing your taxes can feel like a no win situation…

Paying an accountant to do it for you can be quite expensive (been there) while doing it by pen and paper is a tedious error-prone chore (done that).

Tax software to the rescue, right?

It’s true, there are quite a few options out there today when it comes to tax software with many of them seemingly racing to the bottom trying to offer the cheapest possible price for multiple returns, or sometimes even free.

Honestly, using software is way better than wrestling with pencil, paper, and a calculator.

But, I’m a pretty financially savvy guy and I have to admit that I still struggle filling in all the fields correctly. I’m often reduced to scratching my head, desperately combing through poorly formatted help documents, searching madly online, and scouring the CRA website to find answers to my questions.

For someone who cares much less about money than I do, I can imagine it must be considerably more frustrating even with the help of software. That’s where TurboTax has picked up the ball and run with it.

TurboTax Holds Your Hands So You Can Stop Wringing Them

When you land on the TurboTax website, you’re immediately asked to “Choose Your TurboTax”. And, the amount of options can seem overwhelming at first.

But then I realized they have one of the best websites I’ve ever seen for helping guide you to a custom-fit solution that is right for you no matter what your financial knowledge is.

TurboTax homepage

I checked out all their Canadian competitors, and most of them offer a choice between an online or downloadable version of their software along with basic help pages, email, or (maybe) phone support depending on the package you choose.

A Wide Array Of Support and Tax Filing Assistance Options

TurboTax bucks that trend, and has focused in on providing you with the best support options so you can always get the help you need quickly and easily.

They offer all of the following (depending on the version you choose):

  • TurboTax AnswerXchange – an online community where you can ask questions and find existing answers from other users to all your tax-related questions.
  • Live Help with SmartLook – you can connect with a tax specialist live via the TurboTax software with 2 way audio and 1 way video so you can see them but they can’t see you.
  • Assist & Review – personalized tax advice and support from a Tax Expert that will help guide you through filing your taxes with TurboTax and do a full review of your tax return before filing to make sure it was done right.
  • Full Service – your taxes fully prepared and filed for you at rate that is significantly less than most full service accountants charge. Simply use the SimpleTax online tool to upload your ID and necessary documents and they will take care of the rest.

Keep in mind most of these easier-than-usual options are only available through the online version of TurboTax. If you’d rather stick with the downloadable software, then you can still get access to AnswerXchange and traditional telephone support.

Click here for a comparison of all the TurboTax Online options.

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More Than Just Forms On A Screen

Another big advantage to TurboTax over other tax software is you have the option of a simple interview style Q&A format for completing your tax return much like you would experience if you met with a tax accountant face to face.

This means you don’t necessarily need to know what forms or the exact type of information you will need to enter before you start the process. The software will do its best to ask you questions that will trigger your memory to think of deductions or details you might otherwise have glossed over or completely forgotten.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money On Your Taxes

All In One Suite of Tax Tools

Successfully filing your taxes is more than just entering pre-existing data into a form. It’s also a decision making process that allows you to optimize your deductions and personal finances for the current and future tax years.

TurboTax comes with an integrated suite of tax tools that help with:

  • Deciding how much to contribute to your RRSP to maximize tax efficiency.
  • Keeping track of your refund amount in real time as you complete your return.
  • Finding extra deductions with interview questions and their Deduction Toolbox.
  • Easy downloading and importing of past data from the CRA or e-slips.
  • Splitting your pension properly to maximize your discount.

See the full list of tools you get with TurboTax here.

Live Help Using SmartLook

This is a great new feature just added to TurboTax in 2018 that I think deserves a lot of credit.

TurboTax On Demand Help

Live chat has become really popular everywhere you go these days, but Smartlook is different in that you can chat by voice with a live agent and there is 1 way video integrated right into the online version of the software.

That way you can see and hear the agent as they provide support to you so you don’t have to type furiously back and forth with them or be frustrated because they can’t see what you’re seeing. They can even guide you by drawing on your screen in real time to show you exactly what to do and where to go.

Not only will this be a great way to help customers, but it will also be a great way for them to see what’s working and what isn’t so they are bound to improve the user experience based on all the live feedback they will be getting.

All you do is click the Help button as you’re using the software and the option for SmartLook will come up. You can get online with a support agent right away, or you can schedule a time for them to call you back.

Related: 5 Ways Families Can Get a Tax Break

Is TurboTax Worth The Extra Money

Like many, TurboTax has a free option for simple tax returns, but I think they are really separating themselves out as the premium tax software option that provides a lot of value for the money.

You’re still going to save money over going with an accountant as well as time and frustration over doing it yourself with limited help – but it will cost you a bit more. Do you think that extra value is worth it?

If you’re not yet sure, the good news is that you can fully complete your tax return in the online version without paying a cent. You can even compare it to other software to see which ones saves you more money. Then, only when you’re ready to file or print your return, you are asked for your payment details.

Why not give TurboTax a try? (Save 20% with this link.)

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.


Randy Keeler
Randy Keeler's picture

Stephen, I use a free program called Studio Tax. Apparently operated by retired CRA people.Easy to use, up to date, and I have used it for a few years now. My taxes are easy..(I work, I pay taxes!)

March 08, 2018 @ 12:36 pm
Rob Duncan
Rob Duncan's picture

Me too!

March 08, 2018 @ 1:15 pm
maskdoll's picture

I use Studio Tax, too. It's free. Form-based tax filling software, better than Question-based Turbo Tax, IMO
Not sure how accurate information is given in the Turbo Tax online community and how useful their tax specialists. All CPAs? or those who work at H&R block? The more you understand the tax system, the more you save. Even with a CPA, you can't expect to save every penny you deserve.

March 08, 2018 @ 12:49 pm
Richard S
Richard S's picture

Wonder how it compares with Simpletax which I've been using though I pay.

March 08, 2018 @ 1:26 pm
Philip Foster
Philip Foster's picture

Stephen, In support of the intent of your site (How to Save Money), I respectfully suggest that you and your readers consider doing what I did 10 years ago--abandoning TurboTax (then QuickTax) in favor of UFile. UFile offers a full set of features from the start, whereas TurboTax dings you with extra costs if you have investments, rental property or a small business. By the way, I don't profit in any way by recommending UFile, I am just a satisfied customer.

While on the topic of taxes and saving money, I would also like to share another resource helpful in tax and financial planning. This is the website I have been using their Tax calculator for the last several years to plan for our quarterly tax payments. It is well worth a look as it contains a lot of useful tools and links for learning about Canadian taxes and personal finance.

March 08, 2018 @ 1:47 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

There are plenty of great options Phil and I may publish a post on that as well. I've used UFile in the past as well. I'm going to be evaluating a few options this year as in recent years I had to give in and start using an accountant but this year I no longer need to do that.

The main point I'm trying to make in this article though is that TurboTax has a lot of premium features that other tax software doesn't which I think some people will find useful.

March 08, 2018 @ 3:47 pm
Stu's picture

First off Stephen, I very much appreciate your disclaimers both at the beginning and end of the article indicating that TurboTax sponsored it. I understand and support your need to monetize your blog and website.

I switched a many years ago from TurboTax (formerly QuickTax) to UFile mainly because of the better pricing and similar levels of products and services. I am very happy with their product, the new features they offer each year and the fact that they are a Canadian company (and no, these comments are not sponsored by Ufile) :)

March 08, 2018 @ 1:58 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks Stu. Before this year I would have thought there wasn't a lot of difference between TurboTax and UFile but now that they've added all the premium support options I think there is a difference worth taking note of. That difference won't matter to some people though who either have really simple returns or who are very comfortable with the tax filing process.

March 08, 2018 @ 3:49 pm
Marie Denton
Marie Denton's picture

Hi Stephen! Many thanks for your recent promotion of the new RBC Infinite Visa card. I clicked on your site because you reported that it would give 25,000 miles whereas the regular RBC website offered only 15,000.

My card arrived two days ago, I called the bank to ensure that I would receive the 25,000 and was initially told it would be 15,000 given after the first statement was paid - very good in that no basic amount needed to be spent within a certain number of months, BUT when I stressed that I had applied on your website, and that it had offered 25,000, another internal enquiry was made and the result was an acceptance that I was correct because it was a ‘Special Promotion’.

So, thanks again Stephen, and a heads up to anyone else who may have been surprised / or should perhaps check to establish the status of their reward .
Happy travels!

March 08, 2018 @ 2:07 pm
Anil Ramji
Anil Ramji's picture

I have been using Turbo Tax since its inception (previously Quick Tax) and I am very happy with the software. It is very user friendly and the customer support is very efficient and knowledgeable. I recommend this product to anyone who wants to simplify the preparation of tax returns.

March 08, 2018 @ 2:23 pm
EV's picture

I have been using UFile for many years as well, I complete returns for my mom, uncle and myself as they are all simple returns. I went to the TurboTax link you provided and nowhere could I find any information on how many returns I can complete so I'm gathering the $15.99 is a single return. I typically purchase the CD from the store as it clearly states 4 returns so for a few extra dollars I can complete the 3 returns.

March 08, 2018 @ 4:25 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, TurboTax has an offline version that allows you to complete multiple returns as well for the same price. However, the two versions (like UFile) are quite different and many of the features mentioned in this blog post are only available in the online version. The $15.99 is for a single return.

March 08, 2018 @ 10:01 pm
Charlene's picture

StudioTax. Used it for years. FREE and Easy. Sanctioned by CRA.

March 09, 2018 @ 12:04 pm
Chris's picture

I've used both Ufile and Turbotax since the diskette versions back in 1995... If you file your taxes in Quebec,Ufile is eons ahead of Turbotax. Returns for all family members are managed and optimized in the same file. With TT, you have to transfer numbers between a couple and their children, for post-secondary education credits. Ever file a return for a deceased spouse with TT? You have to uncouple the two returns and file them separately which renders the pension fractionation optimizer useless. Ufile handles this much more intelligently; no uncoupling is required, so the credits follow through properly. Ufile is a no-brainer if you live in Quebec.

March 18, 2018 @ 7:04 pm
PS's picture

Hello Stephen:

Yes, I did see the disclaimer but must say I was disappointed - can you now really be objective when evaluating the various different tax software?

I relied upon your recommendation and applied for a no-fee on foreign exchange credit card and was hoping to find a similarly thorough assessment of tax prep software - and, now, as I said, I am not so sure of your objectivity?

March 20, 2018 @ 2:01 am
Cheryl's picture

Thank you Stephen.

We have had our tax returns done by an accounting firm that specializes in tax preparation for over 20 years. Until last year, we had always been more than satisfied with using the service and paying the extra money because our returns were more complicated than just a simple return that could be completed with a purchased tax program. Something definitely went sideways last year as calls and requests went unanswered, engagement letters were never issued. It goes on and on. Luckily, our returns were filed on time and appear to be accurate. We made the decision to look for another tax consultant for this year and the question was "where do we start?" Your article with the embedded Turbo Tax ad was a life saver.

We contemplated the options available to us from Turbo Tax and opted for the full support option with someone from their company preparing the returns for us. We had our phone call this morning to review the returns and they are being filed today.
The entire process was smooth, professional and thorough. Someone was always available if we had a question and are still available to us if we have more questions regarding our returns or should we have to face an audit by Revenue Canada. The cost for two returns was less expensive than what we have been paying to a tax consultant previously and the service was better. There is no question, we will use them again next year.

As a disclaimer, we did not receive any encouragement, financial or otherwise from Turbo Tax to write this review.

March 28, 2018 @ 7:32 pm

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