Have you heard of the new free tax software available in Canada called CloudTax? No? Well I’ll share more about it below.
First, I want to give you a quick reminder that the tax deadlines in Canada are coming up:
- April 30
- June 30 if you’re self-employed
Moreover, even though you’ve got some more time to file if you’re self-employed, your tax bill (what you owe the government in income tax) is still due April 30. If you wait to pay your tax bill until after April 30, you’ll have to pay interest on the amount you owe. In other words, no matter if you’re an employee or self-employed, my suggestion would be to just file and pay your tax bill by April 30. Why pay extra money to the government when you don’t need to?
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk about how to actually file your taxes.
Your Options for Filing Taxes
How do you file your taxes every year? Do you even know your options? Well, there are four:
- File manually for free
- File using a free tax software
- File using a paid tax software
- Pay a tax accountant to file for you
As you can plainly see, there are two options that are free and two that are paid. There’s nothing wrong with paying to file your taxes (I do!), especially if you need extra tax help. That being said, if you’ve got fairly simple taxes to file, why not save some money and file for free?
Who Started CloudTax?
So, what kind of free tax software is available in Canada? Well, I want to share one that is very new that I want you to know about called CloudTax.
How I found out about CloudTax is pretty interesting actually. When I attended the Canadian Personal Finance Conference this year, a young man named Nimalan Balachandran came up to me and introduced himself. He shared that he was building a new free tax software for Canadians and hoped we could chat more about it in the New Year. If you know me, then you know I’m one of those weird people who loves to talk taxes, so of course I said “Let’s do it!”
A few months later, we met up for coffee and he shared his amazing story with me. Nimalan is originally from Sri Lanka, and he immigrated to Canada in 2006 after the tsunami in 2004. He always had a passion for technology, but instead of becoming a software developer, he decided to study accounting and finance at Seneca College. He then went on to work as a Taxpayer Service Agent with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), then as a financial advisor at Sun Life Financial. He left his job as a financial advisor in 2015 to finally work full-time on his passion project — CloudTax.
When you think “passion project”, you probably picture someone quitting their job to make their feature film. But honestly I’ve never met anyone besides Nimalan who is so passionate about making taxes simple and easy for others. And a lot of that passion comes from his experience working at the CRA. His role was on the front lines, talking to taxpayers all day and hearing first-hand the issues they were dealing with. That, coupled with his background in finance, made him realize that there was a gap in the market and he was the person to fix it.
What Is CloudTax?
CloudTax is a NETFILE certified tax software that makes it easy for non-business tax filers to file their taxes for free, either on their desktop or mobile phone. It’s a cloud-based software, so you can do your taxes anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection.
Not only that, unlike other free tax software, if you get stuck and need some assistance, you can chat with a CloudTax tax expert online at no additional cost.
If you wanted some additional features such as audit-protection and unlimited phone support throughout the year, you can upgrade for an additional $2.99/month and can cancel anytime. Also, if you want someone to double-check your work, you can pay $19 for a certified e-filer to review your return before you submit it.
How Does CloudTax Compare to Other Free Software?
This was literally the first question I asked when I met up with Nimalan. Why build another tax software when there are so many options already out there? How does CloudTax compare to SimpleTax and other softwares on the market? Then, he showed me this chart.
|Features||CloudTax||TurboTax Free||SimpleTax||H&R Block Online|
|Simple tax situations||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Digital tax return storage||✓||✓|
|View PDF prior to filing||✓||✓|
|Auto-fill my return & Express NOA||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Unlimited online chat support||✓|
|Android mobile app||✓|
|iOS Mobile & iPad app||✓||iPad only|
|Audit protection||Optional||Optional||Not Available||Optional|
CloudTax vs. SimpleTax
Talking strictly about SimpleTax, which is probably what you think of when you think “free” and “tax software,” CloudTax seeks to offer what SimpleTax currently doesn’t. I mean, it kind of has to doesn’t it? So many people I know use SimpleTax every year, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but when comparing CloudTax vs. SimpleTax, there are a few features that to me are pretty important that it lacks.
For instance, a big thing when filing is getting help when you need it. SimpleTax offers limited support. First, it wasn’t immediately clear that they offered any email support. They do, but you won’t find an easy “Contact Us” button anywhere on the homepage or footer. It took me some searching to find their email to use as a user. They also do offer support via Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, but the thing they don’t offer is real-time chat support you can use in the platform as your filing your taxes. When you’re using CloudTax, there’s a chat box you can type into to chat with a support team member to help you.
SimpleTax also doesn’t have an option for phone support, but CloudTax does if you need it for an additional $2.99/month (which you can cancel anytime).
Another thing SimpleTax doesn’t offer is an mobile app for Android or iOs. Sometimes you want to be able to do your taxes on the go using your mobile phone, right? CloudTax has an app for that! You can download the CloudTax app in the Google Play store and will soon be available in the Apple Store.
Lastly, SimpleTax doesn’t offer any audit protection. CloudTax does for an additional $2.99/month. Since this may be a big concern for you and you want to make sure you’re prepared if you get audited, you’ve got the option to add that on to the free plan and have some peace of mind.
For Additional Help & Complex Taxes, There’s CloudTax Pro
If you’d rather pay someone to prepare and file your taxes for you, CloudTax can help too and will cost you way less than hiring a tax accountant. For only $39 a CloudTax Specialist will prepare your taxes, guarantee you maximum tax credits and deductions, and file it on your behalf.
And, if your taxes are a bit more complex because you earn business income, foreign income or rental income, you can pay $69 for a CloudTax Specialist to prepare your taxes for you as well.
These two options fall under CloudTax Pro, which obviously aren’t free but offer way more in features, including someone doing your taxes for you, audit protection, and can even file your GST/HST if you’re a business.
Got Some Questions? Talk to Them, They’re Very Nice!
Although CloudTax is a small company recently started by Nimalan Balachandran, they are on-it when it comes to customer service. They know that the only way to gain new customers (and retain them) is to offer hands-on support. One way they do this is by inviting you to call them to chat and see if CloudTax is right for you. There’s a button right on their top menu you can click to book a call, so why not talk to them and see if supporting this new Canadian small business is how you want to file your taxes this year.