How to file your taxes on your own

The advantages of filing your own taxes are aplenty, but many of us are reluctant to try it for fear of feeling too inexperienced or making mistakes.

Yet with the right tools, anyone can prepare their own tax return without the need of an accountant or third party professional. Filing your taxes quickly, on time, and in the comfort of your home can be done with simple, affordable and reliable tools. Before getting started, we sat down with tax expert Gerry Vittoratos from Quebec-based tax software UFile to calm our tax return nerves and teach us not only how to file, but how to file smart:

What are the advantages of doing your own taxes?
First is the cost. Having tax preparers do your tax returns is becoming more expensive by the year. It is not uncommon for big tax preparation firms to charge upwards of $100 for a simple tax return! For a minimal cost, taxpayers who have simple tax returns to produce are better served preparing their own returns using consumer tax software. The new intuitive interview system we’ve developed for UFile guides users to properly producing their own tax returns.

Second is thoroughness. No third party can be as attentive to getting your tax return right as yourself! Remember that for tax preparation firms, you are one person among hundreds or thousands of people they produce tax returns for. They don’t have the same kind of time dedicated to maximizing your tax return as you do.

Which type of tax returns can I prepare with UFile?
All types of personal tax returns can be produced using UFile, from a simple return to business and rental statements. There are no “tiered” versions of the software; all versions of UFile are capable of producing the same types of tax returns.

Would I be eligible for the same deductions and allowances if I do my own taxes?
Yes, the fact that you are producing your own tax return using consumer software like UFile does not change or alter your right to claiming deductions and credits attributable to you. Moreover, UFile will seek out these deductions and credits for you automatically.

Can I file taxes from past years?
Yes, you can produce back years using UFile. You can go as far back as 2005 for UFile online

Can I do the return for my partner?
Yes, and it is strongly recommended to produce your tax return with your spouse to maximize all transfers of credits. By producing your tax return with your spouse, UFile will optimize all claims between you automatically to get the best return possible.

Which documents do I need to use UFile?
You need to have your official tax slips (T4, T5 and others) and receipts related to your tax return (medical, donations and RRSP receipts). Once you have all these documents in order, you are ready to start completing your return using UFile.

I know nothing about taxes and I’m afraid of making mistakes. Is it complicated?
There is no need to fear producing your own return. It is not as complicated as some might think. UFile’s intuitive interview system guides you through the proper completion of your tax return. The program figuratively holds you by the hand and asks all the proper questions to make sure you don’t miss anything. You can also use the program’s help functions while you are completing the Interview screen, which will help you along the way as well.

How much time do I need to give myself to produce my tax return?
Depends on the complexity of the tax return. If you are like most Quebeckers and have a simple return to produce, it should not take more than an hour to produce even a family return. If you have a more complex return to produce, for example, you have a rental property or business, it will take a bit longer.

What should I do with my paperwork once I’ve filed?
Archive them safely. As per government guidelines, you have to keep your documents for at least 6 years. It is strongly recommended that you scan your documents in electronic format.

Is my information fully protected?
Yes, they are. The online version of UFile is Norton secured, and has been certified by Trustwave. The electronic transmission of your tax return is also secure. Electronic transmissions of tax returns have been around for many years, with no major security breaches to speak of.

If I have questions along the way, is there a way to ask for help?
When you purchase UFile, it comes included with technical support via email or phone. UFile also includes a help function, which can answer a lot of questions you might have when completing your return. We also have an FAQ page within UFile’s website which answers many common questions.

On Tuesday, February 2, UFile will host a live Q&A session on the UFile Facebook Page from 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. to answer any other tax filing questions you have. You can also follow the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #taxesyourway.

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