How Can I File My 2012 Canadian Taxes Online in 2013 for Free Using NETFILE if my Income is over $35,000?

Beginning in 2013 for the 2012 income tax year, the Canada Revenue Agency is starting to make it harder to file your taxes using paper forms. Instead of mailing out paper forms to those who used them in 2011, the CRA is telling those people to phone and order the forms, or visit a local post office to pick them up, or print them at home. They are recommending people use NETFILE and file their 2013 Canadian tax returns online. There are quite a few programs that let you NETFILE your tax information for free if you have a low income. But what is available for filing your taxes for free if you have a moderate to high income?

NOTE: local post offices do not carry all of the Canada Revenue Agency forms. If you used to receive some of the specialized forms mailed to your home or business, you will now have to phone to order them or print them off online.

Annoyingly, the CRA did manage to mail a letter to all taxpayers telling them about this change. It stated “free software” is available to file online.

I was suspicious of this statement. One of the reasons why I have been filing paper returns every year is that I had never found any “free” software to NETFILE or e-file. Because I have a business income tax return and a personal income tax return, I also found that most off-the-shelf software was pretty pricey compared to spending an hour and half writing numbers down on a sheet of paper and paying $1.28 to mail it in.

As for those who say “But you’ll have to wait so long for your refund if you paper file.” I say: Why are you getting a refund? Shouldn’t you not overpay your taxes in the first place?

Anyway, I decided to look online to see what these amazing “free” choices had to offer.
The first slap was that the Canada Revenue Agency does not even have a list of approved software for 2013 returns yet. It’s January 23 today. They say the first returns can be filed February 11. So when will they know?!

I then took a look at last year’s approved software. Of the 34 products listed ONE, yes 1!, is free if your income is over $35,000. In fact, almost none are free if your income is over $25,000. So if you have a moderate to high income, there was only one approved free program in 2012 for filing 2011 tax returns using NETFILE.

That one program was called StudioTax by Bhok It Consulting. It was free regardless of income. It does encourage donations, however, to help offset the costs of maintaining and updating the program.

According to the StudioTax website, they continue to offer their product for free for filing 2012 income tax returns in 2013. If it gets approved again by the Canada Revenue Agency, this may be a product I test. Or I may just sharpen my pencil and dig in.

UPDATE: A few weeks later a second program was approved which is free to use by anyone regardless of income. It is called GenuTax.

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Do you resent paying money to file your taxes? Do you really think your software finds deductions that you didn’t already know about? Please share your experiences with a comment.

4 thoughts on “How Can I File My 2012 Canadian Taxes Online in 2013 for Free Using NETFILE if my Income is over $35,000?

  1. I will never pay to file my taxes … my pencil is all I need! Absolutely ridiculous that the government expects you to buy software to file! If I see another tv ad telling me to file online I am going to scream.. How about they spend that AD money on creating a way to file directly on the cra website.

    • I agree that the CRA should provide us a way to type in our answers and submit our returns on their secure website. I already know what I would need to type in from my paper return. It is crazy to have to pay to pay taxes!

  2. I love netfiling for the obvious reasons that you are refunded quickly and no calculations to do. However, I agree that netfiling should be free for all Canadians not just a few who fall into various categories. I have a fairly simple return as I’m retired, but my husband and I file jointly to save on taxes, which makes calculating what amount he can transfer to my return very time-comsuming and prone to error. Come on CRA give all Canadians a break and offer free netfiling to all.

    • Yes, I think they should offer some online method to do our taxes on the CRA website for free.

      In the meantime, if you’re used to doing your taxes yourself by hand, I’d suggest you might want to look at the free program by StudioTax. If you know how to fill out your forms and what you want to see, it lets you do them fairly easily. It’s free to download, use and NETFILE. (I used it last year for my return.)

      If you prefer to have a program that asks you questions to help you fill out your forms, then the free program GenuTax Standard might be better. It’s also free to download, use and NETFILE. (I used it last year for my husband’s return.)

      Both programs should let you re-calculate your taxes fairly easily to get the best benefit from pension income splitting. Unfortunately, we’re still working so I wasn’t able to test this feature myself, though.

      If you do try one of them, please let me know how it works for the pension split. Thanks!

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