A noteworthy competitor is being marketed by Wealthsimple, the Canadian online investment company whose Wealthsimple Trade online brokerage platform we have reviewed. They recently introduced Wealthsimple Tax, the rebranding of software launched originally in 2012 as Simple Tax, then purchased by Wealthsimple in 2019. It’s an all-in-one tax preparation and filing platform that costs whatever you think is a fair price—even if that price is nothing.
A free service from a company with a $5-billion (with a “b”) market cap—can it really be as good as they claim? We wondered as well, so we set out to learn how Wealthsimple Tax compares with popular long-standing tax-prep software.
How does Wealthsimple Tax work?
Getting started is simple, and you don’t have to be an existing Wealthsimple client to qualify for the free access. First, verify your email address. Then, you enter your personal information (name, address, social insurance number, date of birth), just as you would on any tax-filing form. You also have the option of entering the NETFILE access code from your tax return of the previous year. While this isn’t mandatory, if you don’t include the code you won’t be able to use any information from your previous year’s return to confirm your identity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you used SimpleTax in the past, you can import information from a previous year’s return to simplify your 2020 tax prep.
You’re then asked some general questions about your residence, your marital status and/or dependants, and a few other basic things. If you have a CRA My Account, you have the option of signing up to receive email correspondence about the status of your return directly from the CRA.
Once the setup is completed, the platform guides you through each step of building your return. If you need human help at any point, Wealthsimple has its own support staff available.
Upon completion of your return, your refund (or amount owing) is displayed instantly. You have the option of reviewing your return for errors, or to try to optimize your result. You can also save or print your return as a PDF.
Is Wealthsimple Tax only for basic personal returns?
No. Wealthsimple Tax is capable of processing even complex returns, so long as they aren’t subject to any NETFILE restrictions.
What does “Your maximum refund, guaranteed” mean?
Paying to use Wealthsimple Tax is entirely voluntary. But if you do choose to pay, and another tax preparer (whether that’s a different online platform or a real-life accountant) calculates a better return, Wealthsimple will refund what you paid. While that’s a reassuring testament to the platform’s belief in its own efficacy, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll file your tax return with more than one preparer. In short, this isn’t a high-stakes guarantee.