Why should you use tax software? As the parent of a disabled child there are a lot of extra credits and deductions available to you. Not all of them are straightforward. Many of the credits interplay with other credits. For example, attendant care expenses and child care may reduce the disability tax credit supplement. The fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit add $500 to the total as long as you spend at least $100 in either category. In addition there is the family tax cut (not a disability related item) which I understand has as many as 85 individual steps to follow. The days of doing your taxes on paper are quickly coming to an end.
I normally use the most popular tax program in Canada which is TurboTax. It has worked well for me and it’s easy to understand. This year however, for the first time some of the leading tax products are offering their software for free.
I gave another free product, SimpleTax a run through and found it interesting. It’s a pay by donation product ($0 if you wish). I don’t recommend this product especially for people filing disability claims for the first time. Many of the entries required a manual input of tax credits which may be slightly beyond the capabilities of first time filers.
For me, TurboTax is still the product to beat. It has a step by step procedure and offers extensive help for every entry point. You can buy it just about anywhere (I picked up my copy at Costco for about $28). The online version is $18, but you will pay extra for a spousal return. The CD version will process up to 8 returns.
The free software presents an ideal opportunity for some parents to test their tax capabilities. If you are nervous about your taxes and insist that an accountant do them for you, this is your chance to find out what you can do. Once the accountant completes your taxes, use some of the free software to do it yourself and compare the result. Maybe this will give you the confidence to take over next year.
The big question is how do you know if your chosen product has correctly processed all the disability related items?
Next week I will post a simple tax preparation checklist for you to follow to ensure you are getting your entitlements.