It’s the one time of year I most dread; tax season. Luckily though, with the availability of tax software, many vendors are making the filing process easier.
The software I reviewed this year was UFile for Windows from Dr. Tax Software, a Montreal-based company. It sells for $19.99 and gave me the opportunity to file up to eight returns per box; I just needed to do one. There’s also the option to file up to 16 returns for $29.99. These are available at Best Buy and Future Shop, or online.
This was my first time using UFile to do my taxes. Last year I used Intuit’s QuickTax, now named TurboTax, and if I remember last year’s version of QuickTax correctly I think next year I’ll lean towards using Intuit software again.
While UFile does have some annoyances, there are some positive things I noticed.
The installation of the software was via CD-Rom and this took less than five minutes. After inputting my activation code, I was given the option to register which would allow me to receive free support, e-mail news notifications and free program updates. I declined this option and was then asked if I wanted to carry forward a 2009 tax return from UFile or QuickTax, which would automatically import any personal data of mine.
It was an oversight on my part not to do this, so I needed to complete the registration process all over again. The interview asked me questions about my residence and other things and on a separate screen, allowed me to check appropriate boxes for whichever forms I needed to claim, such as T4s.
In all, the interview process probably took about 30 minutes to complete. Once finished, UFile alerted me of a couple of errors I had made and gave me the opportunity to go back and fix them. The nice thing about this was that if I clicked on a button besides the error notification, it would give me more information on where I went wrong.
One of the things that annoyed me about the software was that for some boxes on my T4 that were left blank, I’d enter a “zero” on UFile. Turns out if the box in your T4 is left blank, you’re to leave the box blank on UFile as well. Not so bad, other than the fact that I had to go back and delete my “zeros” in the T4 section of the software.
The other thing I disliked about this product was that I found the screen was often very busy at times. With an extensive QuikClik Navigator to the left of the screen, combined with a menu bar along the top and text in the main part of the screen, my eyes were tired from so much going on.
If memory serves correct, one major difference between QuickTax and UFile is that QuickTax shows you an “amount owing” or what I was “owed” on the screen during the whole interview process. UFile didn’t do this, so after inputting all of my information I had to click on the “Results” tab and wait several long seconds to see whether or not I owed any money.
After this was completed, I was able to submit my return to the government using Netfile, which was accessible through the UFile product. After receiving a confirmation code, I was able to copy and paste it into UFile for record-keeping purposes. In all, using this software was a much less tedious of a task than if I was to complete everything by hand.
UFile is also available online where users can try it for free and pay only when they’re ready to file. The price for individual users for UFile Online is $15.95 and to add a spouse it’s an extra $9. The convenience of this option is that it’s free for dependants and post-secondary students, regardless of their income, and for families or individuals with an income that’s less than $20,000.
The UFile Pro version is designed for users who prepare more than 20 tax returns but less than 100 and starts at a price point of $99.99 and also allows users to e-file tax returns for others. In order to do this though, users will need to have EFile service provider status.
Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.