Doing my 2012 Taxes with Turbo Tax

For the past several years, I have done my taxes using the Turbo Tax software. (Before that, I was a strictly pencil and paper tax form person!  Oh the mistakes I made…)  I like it for it’s simplicity, ease of use and relatively quick turnover.  You can use the software via the online portal and not pay for it until after you have completed your taxes.  Usually it’s a pretty straight-forward process, but this year, I ran into a few hiccups.

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013 via Flickr

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013 via Flickr

Home Buyer’s Plan

First, I had to file my Home Buyer’s Plan RRSP withdrawal.  For those unfamiliar with the plan, Canadians are allowed to take out up to $25,000 from an RRSP to use towards the purchase of a qualifying home.  As long as the RRSP contributions have been in the account for more than 90 days prior to the withdrawal and as long as the loan is paid back within 15 years, no taxes or penalties are incurred.  It’s a good plan, and for my condo, I took advantage of it to put an extra $4000 into my downpayment.

It should not have been complicated.  I had my T4RSP (this is the slip that indicates withdrawals from an RRSP) and I knew that I had plenty of money in my RRSPs at the time – far more than the $4000 that I took out.  But Turbo Tax wanted to know (1) my contributions for the 89 day period prior to my HBP withdrawal and (2) the fair market value of my RRSP after my withdrawal.  (1) was not so hard to figure out because I contribute a set amount each month, but (2) was more difficult.  I had no idea how much my RRSP was worth immediately following my withdrawal.  I mean, the value changes every day.  After consulting with the bank, we decided to estimate it based on my contributions that month and the previous balance, minus the withdrawal.  


Transit Pass Credit

The government of Canada also offers a public transit tax credit for people who buy a monthly (or longer) transit pass.  I buy a transit pass every month, so this is great for me.  However, for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how to claim it using Turbo Tax!  I checked off the checkbox that asked me, “Do you have a monthly transit pass?” but even after going through the process three times, the software did not prompt me to enter in my transit ticket amounts.  Grrrr!

I was getting very frustrated and was almost ready to give up on Turbo Tax.  I decided to try again a few days later and (despite doing exactly the same thing) it magically worked and prompted me to enter in my total transit amounts.  Hooray!

I’m not sure why it didn’t work before.  Perhaps it was because I hadn’t entered in all of my T4s yet?  I’m just glad that it works now.


Should you use Turbo Tax?

Despite a few initial set backs, my taxes are now DONE!  I just need to review my paperwork one last time and then send it off.  This year, the government of Canada is encouraging everyone to file electronically using their new streamlined system.  Apparently, you don’t need anything more than your SIN and your birth date.  I usually send in a paper return, but I may try their electronic option and see if I get my refund more quickly.

If you have a relatively simple tax return, Turbo Tax is a good option.  A standard return costs $17.99 per return.  For students, as long as your total income is less than a certain amount, your return is free to complete.

Have you used Turbo Tax or any other tax software?  Anyone else done their taxes yet?

Posted in: Money

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