alison griffiths articles
Alison's Money Rule
Do your own taxes
Posted November 28, 2011
Originally Published March 9, 2010
Looking for a sure fired way to save some money this tax season? Do your own return.
When I filled out my first tax return (too many years ago to state the number in a national column!), most Canadians did their own taxes -- on paper. Today 52 percent of us pay someone else to do the annual chore. And that’s a shame.
Every time you turn over your tax return to someone else you take a big step away from financial control. I know because I once started down that road.
With kids, a career, a marriage -- not to mention an ever growing menagerie -- there didn’t seem to be enough time; also my return had become more complicated. But with an accountant doing the job I found myself understanding less and less about what was going on with my money. On top of that I was paying other people to make mistakes -- and mistakes were made.
More than half of those who pay someone to do their taxes state they don’t have the confidence or knowledge to tackle it themselves. However, today’s tax software programs are simple to use for the average person.
Starting at around $19.99 popular titles include; Quick Tax, UFile, HR Block,TurboTax, Cantax and GenuTax. Most offer multiple returns for the price and often unlimited ones for low income filers. Couples can file together and the programs optimize which one should claim a host of deductions from charitable donations through to medical expenses and the transfer of tuition and disability amounts.
Even small business owners and the self-employed can complete their returns easily. For example, use of home deductions are clearly laid out in these programs. All you need to do is plug in the number of rooms or percentage floor area plus figures for expenses such as hydro and heat.
You may still end up on the phone with Canada Revenue Agency or with the software publisher (if you’ve upgraded to phone support) for clarification -- it’s income tax after all. However, if you take this step you will, as I did, achieve a sense of power over your finances. And I’m a big fan of seizing power when you can.
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- Consumer power of one
- Last minute tax tips
- Superhero 1%
- How to avoid the RRSP deadline
- Should you contribute to an RRSP?
- Count On Yourself
- Family Loan
- Pruning your electrical bill
- Stock Market Bear Protection
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