How to Use Free StudioTax Software to Complete your 2012 Canadian Income Taxes and File Online

Once you have downloaded and installed StudioTax 2012 on your computer, you can use it to calculate your 2012 taxes before the April 30 2013 filing deadline: for free! You can the use Netfile to submit your taxes online, also for free. This review is for employees filling out a tax return. I hope to do another review of using it for Business Income in the future.


UPDATE: I hope to test StudioTax 2013 soon. For now, this is the result of my use of the 2012 version.

To Calculate your 2012 Taxes Using StudioTax

If necessary, to start the program, click on the StudioTax 2012 icon on your desktop.

Click on the Create a New Return button.

The Quick Start Wizard will open. It is a tool to help enter the most common tax information. Data will be saved as it is entered. You can exit the Wizard at any time by clicking on Cancel.

Let’s try using it for a return for

  • An employee with a T4
  • A wife with no income
  • 2 children
  • The children took both arts and sports activities
  • Charitable contributions

Start time 12:57

If you select Married, it asks if you want to link your return with your spouse’s return. I selected No. (You can change this later.)

You can use an approximate net income for your spouse and correct it later.

The Wizard gives a list of T and RL forms you may have received. You check the boxes beside them so it will prompt you with relevant questions. For example, I selected T3, T4, and T5. You have to click TWICE to select a checkbox. I did not check any RL forms.

By default, it will attempt to maximize the RRSP claim unless you de-select the check box. If you de-select the box you can reduce the amount of RRSP deduction you claim, if you want to carry forward an unclaimed balance to claim in the future.

For the Child Care Expenses form, first click on the Add button. You will be prompted to type in your child’s name. Then you can fill in all the fields about that child.

The Charitable Donations or Gifts screen is a bit confusing. It lists the amount from T slips. Then you can enter the amounts from other donation receipts. But it then lists the amount available to claim for 2012 return without including the amount from the T slips. Later on I was able to confirm that it claims the full amount including the T4 amount, it just doesn’t look like it on this screen.

Time when finished the Wizard part: 1:34 p.m.

Started again at 3:50 p.m.

WARNING: Although you have now completed your tax return, you have not yet sent it in to the Canada Revenue Agency! You must either print it and mail it in, or NETFILE it.

Even more importantly, if you owe money you MUST pay it before April 30, 2013, or the government will start charging interest on May 1 and may also charge a penalty. If you need a remittance form to fill in and take to the bank to pay your taxes you can print one from the CRA website at http://www.netfile.gc.ca/fq_rfnd-eng.html#balance_owing.

Click this link for instructions on how to submit your return to the CRA by NETFILE for free using StudioTax 2012.

The CRA website has information about how to pay at
http://www.netfile.gc.ca/fq_rfnd-eng.html#balance_owing
with links to various payment tools.

If You Have Additional Interest Income that Does Not Have a T5

You may have other interest income for which you did not receive a T5. For example, if you make less than $50 interest on a bank account or on savings bonds, you will not receive a T5. You still have to legally declare this income.

Normally, it is declared on Schedule 4.

The list of forms on the left hand side of My Studio Tax Return does not show a form for Schedule 4.

When I double clicked on line 121 Interest and Other Investment Income of the T1 Page 2, it opened a Schedule 4 and displayed it on the list of forms. This works if you know enough about your tax forms to know where to click, but isn’t so great if you don’t know.

It did not prompt me for Carrying Charges and Interest Expenses. I knew that our Safe Deposit Box charges go on Schedule 4. So I added them on the form. Again, you may have to be familiar with how to fill in your tax forms before using this program. (This won’t matter as much in 2013 as the safe deposit box deduction is being eliminated.)

Finished 4:10.

How Long Does It Take to do Your Taxes Using StudioTax?

It took 57 minutes to fill in the taxes for an employee with a T4, 3 T3s, 3 T5s, some additional interest income, a wife with no income, 2 children who both took arts and sports activities, and who made lots of charitable contributions. (No child support; no business income; no medical expenses)

That includes some time to check a few things before typing them in and to read over the final tax report.


Who is StudioTax Best For?

StudioTax looks like it would work best for someone who has done their own taxes before and knows roughly what to expect. It might miss some small deductions or income sources if you don’t know to prompt it to open the correct forms to add the information.
StudioTax is great at getting rid of all the math and copying numbers from one page to another.

What’s the Best Way to Use StudioTax?

It’s best if you have a copy of last year’s return nearby to check against when you’re done. You may spot a line that you entered numbers in last year that is empty this year. Then you can check whether you should be adding more information to your return.

How accurate is StudioTax?

Well, this is really a subjective answer because I’m neither a tax accountant or employed by the Canada Revenue Agency. I did my taxes by hand using a pencil and a calculator. Then I did them again using StudioTax. StudioTax came up with the identical answer. So it seems good to me!

Please consider making a donation to Bhok It Software if you like the product so that they can keep offering this product.

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Do you use StudioTax? Have you been happy with this software? Please share your experiences with a comment.

17 thoughts on “How to Use Free StudioTax Software to Complete your 2012 Canadian Income Taxes and File Online

  1. How can I change an entry in page 2 of the return.
    All present entries are locked in. Please help

    • When I open page 2 of the T1, if I double click where I want to change a value, it opens the corresponding schedule/form that provides the value to that line, or it just lets me type, if there is no form/schedule for that field (the yellow ones).
      Which line is locked on your T1?
      (I assume you haven’t filed your taxes yet, and that you downloaded the program in the last 2-3 weeks so there haven’t been any software updates since you downloaded.)

    • Hello,
      I do not work for StudioTax or GenuTax, nor can I phone anyone. I am just a taxpayer writing about what I did when I experimented with these free programs. I am also not a tax expert nor have I personally ever had to claim rental income.

      With any of these tax software programs, you have to make sure you enter all of your information, and make sure it appears in the correct place before you file your return.

      If you don’t know where to enter the information, you need to read the guides prepared by the Canada Revenue Agency.
      The General Income Tax Guide is available online at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/5000-g/

      A quick search also found some information about rental income at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/t4036/

      You may find GenuTax Standard 2012 easier to use if you want a program that asks you a series of questions. StudioTax is better for someone who already knows where to type the numbers but needs a program to type them into.

  2. I can only see part of the T3 form on the screen, so couldn’t fill in all the boxes as needed. Any solution? I used a laptop with extra screen, so have tried to changed the display from 150% back to 100%, and only use the laptop screen, but neither of it worked. What should I do?

    • Two things to note
      -I don’t work for StudioTax
      -I’m not a particularly good computer user

      I’ll start with some simple suggestions:
      Did you set your settings to use only the laptop screen, power down, re-start, re-open StudioTax and see if it displays properly then?

      When you say you can’t see all of the form, what part is missing? The form normally displays vertically on the screen from line 21 to 51. It gives you several vertical columns so that you can enter all of the info from one T3 vertically, then select the next column to the right if you have second T3 to report etc. There should be a scroll bar to move vertically down the fields, and a horizontal scroll bar above the headings T3(1) and T3(2) to let you scroll horizontally.

      If you are only reporting Canadian interest income from a T3, you could also report it by opening Schedule 4 and typing in the values.

      To see Schedule 4 from the top of any StudioTax screen, click on Forms.
      From the Federal Forms list, click once to highlight Schedule 4. Then click the large Down pointing arrow to add it to the Added Forms list box below. Then click the OK button.
      When you look now at your list of forms on the left side of the screen, you should see Schedule 4. Click on it to open it.

      If you had dividends on the T3, you could also enter them manually on Schedule 4, but you’d have to manually enter them in the correct places to get the dividend tax credit, too. I can’t remember exactly where those are, but if you read the CRA General Tax Guide 2012, it should tell you which lines numbers to look for. (One is for the federal credit, one for the provincial) http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/formspubs/t1gnrl/

      If you had capital gains on the T3, you will need to report them I believe on Schedule 3, but I’m not a tax expert so I’m not sure exactly how that works.

      You could also try contacting StudioTax for support. Their website is: http://www.studiotax.com/en/?page=5

      I’m surprised that you’re having trouble with the display. I only use a desktop computer but it works beautifully on it, and the size of their “windows” seems small enough to work even on a large tablet.

      Good luck and sorry it’s causing you stress.

  3. Thank you for detailed reply BetCrooks. Yes, I have changed the display settings (to highest resolution and smaller display), tried to use only the laptop screen, re-started the laptop, re-opened and even re-installed the StudioTax. But the display for T3 was still missing from line 49 on on my laptop. So, I installed the software on my desktop which worked totally fine, then opened the same file (transferred from the desktop) on the laptop, still no full display, same as before. Frustrated. But anyway, I have filed tax from the desktop. Don’t know if it’s the computer issue or software issue.
    Much appreciate your reply.

    • Very interesting! It’s good to hear you did finally get your taxes filed. I’m sorry it proved such a nuisance for you. If you have a chance in the next few weeks, you may want to report the error to StudioTax so they can try to improve their product.

  4. Thank you very much. My problem is I’m not sure if it’s just my computer skill problems or the software problem. I’ve used this software for at least 4 years now, never had a problem on the desktop, but this year, so, hesitate :) Thank you so much.

  5. I have a problem Net-filing because the Studio Tax software is telling me something that does’;t make sense (Foreign non business tax paid without foreign income/Foreign business tax paid without foreign income) All I have is boxes 49, 50, 51 and 21 filled in my slip ..I have called CRA and their Netfile help desk and both say there should not be any error.

    • StudioTax’s contact information is on their website at:
      http://www.studiotax.com/en/?page=5

      They also have a Support page at:
      http://www.studiotax.com/en/?page=3

      I did try to see if I could think of any solutions for your problem, though:

      When you have StudioTax open, and you look at your T3 information, does it report a number in box 24 or in box 25? Or in box 33 or in box 34?

      From what you are saying it should not, but I’m wondering if somehow information got put in there anyway by mistake.

      (You can open the T3 screen by clicking on the T3 link on the left hand side list of Forms.)

      Other than that, you will want to look at your T1 and make sure all of the numbers it reports there are ones you want.

      Beyond that, I can’t offer any advice.

      Hopefully either you’ll find “false” data when you look at the StudioTax version of your T3 or that StudioTax can help you if you contact their customer support.

      If you’re really stuck, you could try using GenuTax instead. It’s free, too.

      Sorry it’s being such a nuisance for you!

    • I’m sorry but I’m not really sure what you’re asking.
      Do you live in Ontario?
      Are you a low-income earner and you are asking how to apply for the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit?
      http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/credit/oeptc/
      If that’s what you mean, according to the Ontario website “You apply for the credit by completing the ON-BEN Application for the Ontario Trillium Benefit and the Ontario Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant, which is part of your personal income tax and benefit return (return).”
      If that’s what you need, if you have your StudioTax form open, if you look for a box on the left side of the screen called Forms, you should see a heading called Provincial Forms and under that should be a link to the ON-BEN form.

      I’ve never used that form so I can’t tell you in detail how to fill it out, but I can see you must fill in Part B and possibly other parts.

      If you need more information about completing the form, you may want to call the CRA.

      I hope this helps a bit.

  6. Hello,

    I completed the studio tax software Income tax forms for 2013 and saved it on my desktop as a filename myname.13t. how can I convert it to a .tax file before I can use netfile to file in my IT return.yr help will be highly appreciated.

    regards

    arnab

    • Hi,
      I don’t have time to write up detailed instructions this weekend but I can direct you to the information provided by StudioTax. (I don’t work for StudioTax, nor do I receive anything from them; I’m just a taxpayer.)

      First, be sure to read through all of your tax return forms and schedules to be sure that all of your income and deductions are reported properly. There’s no point in filing a return with errors.
      Next you can review how to create and send a .TAX file.

      Open your StudioTax program.
      Before you select Open an Existing Return, etc, you can see a column on the left hand side called Resources.
      Click on the Tutorials button.
      Click on the link for number 3: Create a .TAX file.
      Read and follow the instructions.
      If necessary:
      Click on the link for number 4: Send the .Tax file to CRA.
      Read and follow the instructions.

      I hope this helps!

  7. Line 115 – Other pension and superannuation.

    I get a foreign pension from another country directly deposited in my Canadian bank account. I am a Canadian citizen living and residing in Canada.

    I don’t get any T slip or tax form for this foreign pension. So how do I enter this amount on Line 115 ? The wizard doesn’t give me any option to do so.

    Can I click on this Line 115 directly and enter this amount ..foreign pension amount in Canadian Dollars ?

    Does studio tax allow you to enter the value directly in any of the form , without the wizard ?

    • Yes, you can enter values directly in the forms without using the wizard.

      Look on the left side of the screen for the list of forms and schedules.
      Click to open page 2 of your return.

      Double click on the field for Line 115.

      A window “T1 Line 115 Other pensions or superannuation will open.
      One of the fields is “Other foreign pensions income” If you click on the box for that field, you can type in your foreign pension amount in Canadian dollars.
      Then click on the OK button to update your return.

      Check page 2 again to make sure the income is now being reported properly.

      I hope this helps a bit. If you need more detailed help, please be aware that I do not work for StudioTax, nor do I receive anything from them. You can contact their support team directly from their website.

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