This year is going to be one of the strangest and (potentially) most complicated years for tax filing. Jobs were lost and hours cut during the pandemic. The federal government responded by introducing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), among a host of other measures to protect workers and the economy. Furthermore, many entrepreneurial-minded Canadians turned to side hustles and the gig economy to earn more income.
CERB payments are taxable, but taxes were not withheld at the source. Eligibility for self-employed individuals was not clear from the onset, and the CRA has sent out letters asking to confirm eligibility or risk having to pay back benefits.
All of this to say that many Canadians are nervous about filing taxes for the 2020 year. Self-employed individuals, in particular, need assurance to help understand all of the tax deductions and credits that are available to them.
Think of the deduction for home office expenses. Many of us found ourselves unexpectedly working from home, setting up shop in our kitchen, living room, or bedroom. Because of this, the CRA announced it had simplified the way employees can claim home office expenses on their tax return for the 2020 tax year.
Navigating your way through all of the eligible tax credits and deductions can be painful on your own. That’s why tax services like TurboTax are essential for tax filers – especially the self-employed – to find every available deduction and maximize your return, giving you a little lift when you need it most.
I’m amazed at how intuitive these programs have become. Not just the service, but TurboTax has an entire team of tax experts with an average of 10 years of experience at the ready to answer your questions in real time and can even fill and file your return for you.
TurboTax is NETFILE certified and can guarantee you’ll get your biggest refund. NETFILE is the CRA’s online filing service and it allows you to electronically submit your tax return directly to the CRA from your computer.
Before I get into the features of the TurboTax Full Service Self-Employed product, I have a confession to make. Ten years ago, I hired an accountant to incorporate our online business and to figure out the most tax efficient way to treat our business income, retained earnings, and how to withdraw money from the corporation when needed.
I figured once the corporation was set up and we were pointed in the right direction, I would go back to filing my own taxes, both personal and small business.
What I (surprisingly) discovered was that I found great value in paying for tax advice and having a professional take care of our tax filings. That’s right, a personal finance expert pays someone else to do his taxes! Here’s why:
Our situation is more complicated than most. When I worked a full-time job, we were able to stream dividends to my stay-at-home wife to help accelerate our savings goals. Since then, we created a meaningful role for my wife which helped grow the business and stay on-side of the new TOSI (tax on split income) rules. I opened a corporate investment account to invest our retained earnings. Finally, after I quit my day job, we needed advice on whether to pay ourselves a salary or continue to pay dividends.
Your situation might not be overly complicated, but you can still benefit from having sound advice from a tax expert to help make this year’s tax season less stressful than it has to be.
This speaks to the need to have a tax expert on your side. Thankfully, TurboTax continues to make tax filing easy for all Canadians, even self-employed individuals, with their Self-Employed suite of products.
I got to test-drive TurboTax Live Full Service Self-Employed earlier this month to see how TurboTax gives a little lift to self-employed tax filers.
TurboTax Self Employed
I empathize with small business owners and self-employed Canadians who have more complicated tax situations than simply submitting a T4 along with an RRSP contribution. It’s not easy to file your own taxes and know (with confidence) that you’re claiming all of the expenses and getting all of the deductions that apply to you.
And I get it. Not everyone can afford to (or will even have the desire to) pay an accountant to file their tax return and get tax advice every year. But you’re not alone.
TurboTax Self-Employed offers three ways for self-employed individuals to file their taxes.
- Self-Employed (do it yourself) – You complete your own return, and TurboTax will guide you through the process.
- Assist & Review Self-Employed – Get tax advice and a final review of your return from an expert.
- Full Service Self-Employed – TurboTax Live Experts can prepare, optimize, and file your taxes for you.
Seasoned self-employed individuals with a good understanding of their expenses and deductions can file confidently on their own with TurboTax Self-Employed.
Newly self-employed individuals, or those with more complicated situations, might want the assurance of TurboTax Assist & Review Self-Employed. You’ll get access to a team of experts who will listen to and understand your unique situation, answer your questions, give you unlimited tax advice, and, of course, give you the little lift of the best possible tax outcome when you file.
For TurboTax Self-Employed and TurboTax Assist & Review Self-Employed, a business interview guides you through filing your self-employed income and expenses and automatically finds relevant deductions.
TurboTax Self-Employed Full Service
Those looking to free up more time might want to hand off their taxes to a TurboTax Live Full Service Self-Employed tax expert. I tested out this product and came away impressed with the seamless, intuitive, and time-saving process.
Get started by signing up and completing your profile and granting TurboTax authorization with the CRA. Your TurboTax tax expert will get your documents directly from the CRA and start working on your return. They’ll make sure you get every deduction and notify you when it’s ready for a joint review.
If you’re busy like me, you’ll appreciate that you can schedule time to connect with a tax expert to go through and review your return over the phone at a time that suits you. I was able to connect with my assigned expert, Claire, immediately, but there is an option to schedule a call at your convenience. The call is done through a one-way video call (you can see them, but they can’t see you) and from there, your tax return is filed online to the CRA by a tax expert, and you get a notification that it’s been submitted.
In the documents section I was able to upload all of my relevant files, download anything that Claire sent me to fill out, and upload it again as requested.
Any communication with your tax expert is done through the ‘Tax Experts’ tab. Enter your questions here and your tax expert will respond. The messaging system will keep track of your communication history and you will be notified by email when your expert replies.
Although you could get it all done in a day, the entire process took a few days for me due to some back-and-forth messaging and uploading of files. Email notifications were an efficient way to keep the process moving along. It was really no different than going back and forth with an accountant – and I did it all from my living room.
What makes TurboTax Self-Employed Full Service different?
Full-service customers can get year-round tax advice, tailored for their unique tax situation. Audit Defence puts a tax expert in your corner, who will represent you, defend you, and handle all correspondence with the CRA on your behalf.
You get this service as a part of your purchase, so you know someone has your back, even after they’ve submitted your tax return.
Finally, at $199.99 per return, you’re paying a fraction of the cost of using an accountant (start for free, only pay when you file). You’ll still get your taxes filed by a real tax expert who will make sure you get back every dollar you deserve. And you’ll save yourself a boatload of time.
With tax season right around the corner, many Canadians are understandably nervous about filing this year. For self-employed individuals, it can be painful trying to navigate your way through all of the various expenses, credits, and deductions available to you – especially if you’re a new self-employed tax filer or if your situation changed last year due to the pandemic.
TurboTax Self-Employed has three options for self-employed tax filers to choose from to ensure they get the biggest tax refund possible by taking advantage of all available deductions and credits. In these uncertain times, these are the little lifts we all need.
Save time, save money, and file your self-employment taxes with confidence by getting started with TurboTax Self Employed.
TurboTax has kindly provided me with four unique (and FREE) product codes to try any of the three TurboTax Self-Employed products. Leave a comment on the original B&E post (link below) to enter to win a free product code and try out the service for yourself this tax season.
In addition to running the Boomer & Echo website, Robb Engen is a fee-only financial planner. This article originally ran on his site on Feb. 9, 2021 and is republished here with his permission.