I had a little trouble getting up and running with UFile, but that turned-out to likely be more of a Windows problem (my test machine is running Vista) than a UFile program.
The initial instillation went quickly, taking less than five minutes to install and activate over the Internet. The problem came when trying to update the software, a necessity before beginning to prepare my tax return. I could download the update, but every time I tried to install it, it would fail, with a blank error box offering no clues as to the cause. I encountered the same problem with H&R Block’s tax software, which I’m also testing. I thought there might be a conflict with QuickTax, which I’d previously reviewed, but uninstalling that program didn’t help.
Finally, it occurred to me this might be a Vista security issue. Sure enough, when I logged back into Vista in administrator mode, the update proceeded easily and I was ready to rock. Very annoying though, and something that may turn of those casual users not tuned-into the intricacies of Vista.
Up and running, it was on to preparing my tax return. UFile offered the ability to import a previous year’s return, saving a lot of data entry, and it had no problem importing by 2007 return created with competitor QuickTax. I did have to go looking for the file on my PC though as it didn’t find it automatically.
I prepared my return using the QuickClik interview method, which begins by asking you to tick a series of boxes to indicate categories of income and deductions. This reduces the amount of clutter you’ll see later on.
The field narrowed, it’s a fairly easily process of entering the information to complete your return. I did find the form for entering T4 data a little less than intuitive. It asks for the data in numerical order, rather than mimicking the layout of the form itself. Another shortcoming is that you can’t see your balance owing/refund until the end. Some may like the suspense but I like seeing how each deduction, or income change, impacts my bottomline.
For those new to UFile, a 12-step tutorial is available to introduce you to the process, and “?” symbols next to nearly every item during the data entry process provide more details and assistance.
Among the tools in UFile is an RRSP calculator that calculates how much you’d save on your taxes by topping-up your RRSP contribution before the March deadline. A loan calculator also helps you determine if taking-out a loan to fund an RRSP contribution makes sense or not.
And for pensioners, UFile’s MaxBack Refund Analyzer leverages recent changes that allow pensioners to allocate up to half their income from retirement funds to their spouse by determining the optimal income split for maximum tax savings automatically, a powerful feature for those with retirement income.
UFile 2008 comes in a four SKUs. The online edition, UFile.ca, allows you to file your taxes online for $15.95 per person. There are also three desktop editions. For $19.99, UFile Standard includes eight returns. At $29.99, UFile Plus includes 16 returns and adds telephone support and a retirement calculator. Finally, UFile Pro is designed for semi-professional tax preparers.