Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Free Tax Filing Online?

The NDP is the new consumer advocate for Canadians. First it was challenging banks over the charging of ATM fees in Canada. Now the NDP have set their sights on Canadians filing their taxes.

The NDP point out that in order for Canadians to file their taxes over the internet, they must purchase commercial software or have their taxes prepared by a private organization (i.e. H&R Block). The NDP note that there currently is not a no cost way to file personal income taxes.

The Revenue Minister, Carol Skelton, says Canadians already have access to free software via the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website. Try navigating this particular website to find the free software to download or file your tax return via the web browser. If the software is there, it is hard to find even for a person with two university degrees. So how is the average Canadian supposed to navigate the website in order to file their taxes online?

Perhaps the real need is to make the website less about announcing and promoting the new tax incentives for transit and for seniors and more on providing a user friendly free way for the average Canadian to file their taxes. Or perhaps a seperate user friendly website with a seperate easy to remember URL should be created so the average Canadian can file their taxes online. This new website should be advertised on television during tax season.

The website, the NDP contends, would save thousands of Canadian trees as taxpayers would more likely file their taxes online rather than having to read and fill out reams in a paper edition. In fact the Revenue Agency would save money in not having to print so many paper editions.

But of course, being a government agency, the Canada Revenue Agency, like the banks, wouldn’t be able to come up with anything user friendly that would also save people time and money.

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