Can I File Quebec Income Taxes With Free Software?
"Each province has its own unique tax considerations," says John Pacheco, senior financial advisor from London, ON. "Revenu Quebec handles a number of tax issues differently, requiring tax software developers to include forms and procedures specific to Quebec." While the Canada Revenue Agency certifies tax preparation software for use with its NETFILE electronic tax filing program, a certified software package may not cover the entire country.
The CRA places a priority on electronic filing, since it represents significant cost savings compared with processing paper tax returns. The agency certifies tax preparation software by using an extensive testing process that runs a proposed software through virtually any tax situation. Even if you do not file electronically, tax preparation software that is certified by the CRA prepares your return in accordance with tax rules and regulations for the current tax year. The CRA does not, however, require tax preparation software to complete returns for all provinces and territories, and in past some software vendors have not included support for Quebec, due to the cost of writing additional code compared to the potential market. CRA maintains a list of approved software packages each tax year, with direct links to the software vendors. Confirm that the free software product or free offer you choose supports Quebec and Revenu Quebec procedures before using it to prepare your taxes.
English and French are the official languages across Canada and the CRA provides all information and services it renders in both official languages. Some external information connected to CRA web pages may not be subject to Official Languages Act provisions, so the agency provides links as a convenience untranslated. Similarly, tax preparation software does not have an official language requirement. Some free software packages and offers are available only in English, while others are available only in French. Several software providers support both languages.
Free Software Versus Free Offers
Free tax preparation software comes in two versions. The first is software that is completely free to use such as TurboTax Free. There may be restrictions on use due to NETFILE limitations imposed by the CRA, or some special aspects of tax law not requiring support for NETFILE certification. For example, several tax packages do not support form T1273, supporting the harmonized AgriStability and AgriInvest programs. The second version of free tax preparation software comes from vendors who sell their software, but provide conditions for free tax preparation. These conditions may be based on income. If your personal income falls below a certain level, some vendors allow you to complete and file a return, waiving any purchase fee. Other vendors provide tax preparation services at no cost to those who only have certain income to declare, such as that which is reported on T4 income information slips. CRA's certified software web page indicates which packages are free for everyone and which have free offers.
Filing Quebec Returns
When your free software package or offer supports the province of Quebec and is certified for NETFILE use, you are assured that your taxes will be processed in compliance with both CRA and Revenu Quebec procedures and rules. Ensure that both federal and provincial tax forms are included and, provided you meet CRA eligibility rules for electronic filing, your tax preparation package supports e-filing. When combined with direct deposit, you may see your refund, if you are entitled to one, in approximately eight business days.
References & Resources
- John Pacheco; Senior Financial Advisor, London, Ontario
- Globe and Mail: Why You Should File Your Taxes Electronically (If You Don't Already)
- Canada Revenue Agency: Certified Software for the 2014 NETFILE Program (2013 Tax Return)
- Canada Revenue Agency: Official Languages Act
- TurboTax: TurboTax Free 2013
- NETFILE: Restrictions