TurboTax vs. Wealthsimple Tax: Which tax program is the winner?
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Updated: March 22, 2023
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Filing your own taxes is becoming more and more popular among Canadians. And why not? If your taxes are fairly simple and straightforward then you may as well save the money and do it yourself rather than pay an accountant. After all, there are several DIY tax programs that make it easy to do your taxes from the comfort of your own home.
Two of the most popular income tax software programs available to Canadians right now are TurboTax and Wealthsimple Tax (formerly known as SimpleTax). How do the two stack up? Which one is best? Let’s dig in with this TurboTax vs. Wealthsimple Tax head-to-head review.
Contender #1: TurboTax
TurboTax is made by Intuit, which also owns other popular products including Mint (the budgeting app) and QuickBooks (the accounting software). The company has been operating in Canada since the early 1990s, and today, TurboTax is considered a household name when it comes to income tax software.
There are a few ways to use TurboTax. There’s a free online version for those who don’t need as much guidance and are confident filing taxes on their own, a downloadable version, which you need to pay for, and online versions that provide more guidance and are free to use until you choose to submit and file your taxes. For the sake of this review, we are comparing only the online versions.
TurboTax is certified by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as well as Revenue Quebec, and is compatible with NETFILE, which allows Canadians to submit their tax return to the CRA online and get a quicker refund.
Learn more about TurboTax in our TurboTax Canada review.
Contender #2: Wealthsimple Tax
Wealthsimple Tax is similar to TurboTax in that it is also an online tax app that allows you to file your own taxes from the comfort of your own home.
Wealthsimple Tax may be unfamiliar to you; it used to be known as SimpleTax, which has been a popular tax filing option since 2012. SimpleTax was purchased by Wealthsimple in 2019 and was rebranded to become Wealthsimple Tax in 2021.
Wealthsimple Tax uses NETFILE and is approved by the Canadian Revenue Agency as well as Revenue Quebec.
Learn more about Wealthsimple Tax in our Wealthsimple Tax review.
TurboTax vs. Wealthsimple Tax: At a glance
Available tax filing options
No two tax situations are entirely alike. Some taxes are basic and easy while others are more complicated. Those who are self-employed will have different considerations than those who work for a company, while families will have different considerations than students. It begs the question, which of these programs has the most product options available?
TurboTax currently offers six different product tiers:
- Free: Ideal for those who are comfortable filing online on their own
- Deluxe: Ideal for families or students
- Premier: Ideal for those with investments and/or rental properties
- Self-Employed: Ideal for those who work for themselves
- Assist and Review: Ideal for those who are new at filing their own taxes and may need a little more assistance
- Full Service: For those who would rather have TurboTax experts do the work and file for them.
As you can see, TurboTax offers a large variety of options depending on your tax situation. Along with the product tiers mentioned above, TurboTax also handles non-resident returns and incorporated business taxes (via a downloadable program). In addition to that, you can also access your tax return on a mobile device through the TurboTax app and then save your progress and switch to another device whenever you want.
Wealthsimple Tax, on the other hand, doesn’t offer different product tiers. While, at a glance, this makes it seem like this means that Wealthsimple Tax is only meant for simple returns, that is not actually the case. While being ideal for simple returns, Wealthsimple Tax will also work for those with more complicated situations including unincorporated businesses, those with rental income, crypto trading, and investments. It’s also good for those who are self-employed. This can be a little confusing as there are no separate categories like TurboTax offers, but Wealthsimple Tax can be used for all kinds of tax returns, including more complicated ones.
Winner: TurboTax. While both programs can handle simple and more complicated returns, TurboTax comes out on top because it makes it clear from the beginning what it covers by offering different versions, it covers more tax return scenarios, and offers more guidance options. From a user perspective, I’m more confident using a product that tells me right away that it can specifically do what I need it to.
Rates and fees
Assuming your tax situation isn’t complicated, using online tax software is going to be cheaper than using an accountant. Let’s take a look at how the fees between these two programs stack up against each other.
TurboTax fees depend on the product tier you choose. If you want step-by-step guidance or expert help, you’ll have to pay for those services. Depending on the product you choose to help prepare your return, you’ll pay:
TurboTax Online (Do it myself)
- Free: $0
- Deluxe: $20.99
- Premier: $34.99
- Self-Employed: $49.99
Assist and Review (Do it with me)
- Basic: $39.99 ($44.99 as of April 17th)
- Deluxe: $69.99 ($79.99 as of April 17th)
- Premier: $89.99 ($99.99 as of April 17th)
- Self-Employed: $109.99 ($129.99 as of April 17th)
Full Service (Do it for me)
- Basic: $69.99 ($89.99 as of April 17th)
- Deluxe: $99.99 ($129.99 as of April 17th)
- Premier: $149.99 ($179.99 as of April 17th)
- Self-Employed: $249.99 ($279.99 as of April 17th)
Wealthsimple Tax uses a completely different pricing model. In fact, it doesn’t really have a pricing model at all as it operates on a pay-what-you-what scheme. After filing your taxes, you’re asked to pay what you think the service is worth or what you can afford. While donations for the service are suggested, they aren’t mandatory. So no matter how complicated your return, filing with Wealthsimple Tax can be completely free. That being said, if you do decide to donate, most users tend to donate between $10-$20. Even then, that is still cheaper than the majority of the options offered by TurboTax.
Winner: Wealthsimple Tax. You can’t beat free! While TurboTax also offers a pretty good free tax return option, Wealthsimple Tax allows you to file more complicated returns free of charge, or for however much you’re willing to pay.Submit your tax return with Wealthsimple Tax
Next up, let’s take a look at the different features each of these tax programs offer.
To start with the basics, TurboTax offers CRA Auto-fill my return, which means that if you have a CRA My Account, you can choose to ‘auto-fill’ your information that is already on file. This is a handy tool that can save you lots of time. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, TurboTax is NETFILE certified, meaning you can submit your taxes directly to the CRA online with the click of a button. Filing doesn’t get any easier than that!
TurboTax also guarantees 100% accuracy and that you will get the maximum refund possible. If any errors occur while using TurboTax, it will reimburse you the penalty plus interest.
Additional TurboTax features worth noting include:
- Community support page (free) or phone/video support and full-service review (paid)
- Income tax calculators for each province and territory in Canada
- RRSP calculator
- Self-employed expense calculator
It is also worth noting that TurboTax can be used online on both Mac and PC computers through your internet browser or you can download the app, which works on both iOS and Android. Plus, as mentioned in the beginning, you can choose to purchase the TurboTax software rather than use the online version. The purchased software will allow you to do multiple returns for your family and/or friends. There are also products available for businesses and corporations.
Wealthsimple Tax also offers Auto-fill My Return through your CRA account and uses NETFILE, allowing you to file your taxes quickly and easily from home. Like TurboTax, Wealthsimple Tax also offers a maximum refund guarantee and a 100% accuracy guarantee. If you find someone else, like an accountant, or different tax software that offers a better refund, Wealthsimple Tax will refund whatever you paid for its service.
New in 2022, Wealthsimple Tax will also calculate your cryptocurrency capital gains and losses, even if you have your coins spread across multiple wallets. The program will automatically import transactions, find market prices at the time of your trades, and match transfers between wallets. Currently over 300 exchanges and wallets are supported, including NDAX, Coinberry, Shakepay, and Bitbuy.
Additional Wealthsimple Tax features include:
- Email, phone, and chat support
- RRSP calculator
- Tax calculator
Wealthsimple Tax can also be used on your web browser on both Mac and PC computers, and an app is available through both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Winner: It’s a draw. While both programs offer most of the same features, TurboTax goes the extra mile with its hands-on support options, while Wealthsimple Tax stands out for its cryptocurrency integration.
Taxes can be daunting, especially if you are new to doing them yourself. So, how do TurboTax and Wealthsimple Tax measure up in terms of the user experience?
TurboTax maps everything out for you step-by-step. You just have to follow the instructions and the flow on the screen. There’s no need to do it all at once, you can take a break and come back as needed. There are also several prompts throughout the process should you need more information. Overall, TurboTax is easy and straightforward to use. The only downside is the constant effort to upsell you to a higher-priced version. While this is a bit annoying, it doesn’t take much to skip past and ignore it.
Wealthsimple Tax follows also takes a step-by-step instruction approach. Just follow the prompts and make your way through the process. Like TurboTax, there are prompts along the way that you can click on for more information if you don’t understand something. However, since there are no set fees associated with using Wealthsimple Tax, there’s no upsell and you won’t be bombarded by annoying ads. The lack of ads is very noticeable when comparing Wealthsimple Tax to TurboTax and definitely makes the process a lot smoother.
Winner: Wealthsimple Tax. Both programs are simple to use, but TurboTax’s unavoidable ads and attempts to upsell are annoying and distracting. Without these ads, Wealthsimple Tax offers a much better user experience.
You may want some help if you have a more complicated return. You may also want to have someone look over your taxes before you file. How does this work with each of these online tax services?
With TurboTax Free, you can get help from a community support page. If you paid for an upgraded version, you will have more access to professional help via phone and one-way video support. For even more assistance, you can upgrade to ‘Assist and Review’ or ‘Full Service’ in which you will have experts on hand who will look at your returns or, in the case of the Full Service option, a tax expert will do your return for you.
As for Wealthsimple Tax, they offer phone, chat and email support 7 days a week. However, there is no option for a personalized review at the end before you file. While this is fine if you have simple taxes or have been doing your taxes for years and know what you are doing, the lack of assistance could be a turn-off for anyone new to doing their taxes or those with more complicated returns that may be looking for some extra help along the way.
Winner: TurboTax. While you do have to pay extra for professional assistance, at least it’s an option whereas with Wealthsimple Tax there are no professional guidance options available.
TurboTax vs. Wealthsimple Tax: The winner
Based on the categories I compared, TurboTax comes out on top. However, the case can be made that Wealthsimple Tax offers better options for some. Let me explain.
On paper, TurboTax is the winner because it offers more features and more assistance options. It also has years of experience and trust backing them and are consistently lauded as the #1 tax software program in Canada. That trust factor is definitely worth considering.
Now, this does not mean that Wealthsimple Tax is a poor choice. In fact, quite the opposite. If you have a simple return or are more familiar and comfortable with filing your own taxes, then the streamlined Wealthsimple Tax program with its low rates might be the best choice for you. It’s also be your best bet if you’re a heavy crypto trader with multiple wallets.
In the end though, since tax season is notoriously stressful to most Canadians, I would still go ahead and recommend TurboTax. It comes with a better arsenal of tools and support that will allow the average person to feel more confident when filing their own taxes.