Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I could weep with the sheer joy of it - tax help is finally here!

I could never reconcile spending $30 for tax software when I made little enough that I never had to pay out or get a rebate on my taxes, for many years now. But then, there was the math.

Math and I have never been friends. Ever since way back in elementary school, with the multiplication tables, I have not been a fan. Geometry, that's cool. And a kind of unconscious understanding of some aspects of geometry have helped me greatly in my artistic life.

But taxes don't require knowledge of geometry. They require lots of adding, subtracting, and multiplying. Ugh. Especially when you do a whole page of math and in the end, as you knew it would be, there's that final bit that says, if the number is less than ___, enter 0. And so all that math was for NOTHING. Always. Oh, how I hated it. But, if I want to get a GST rebate (a small amount sent out quarterly as a rebate for a particular tax), I have to do it. So every year, I get out the calculator and do all that useless number crunching.

But then, in March, Jack Layton (the leader of the NDP here in Canada) said that free tax software should be available to every Canadian, to save all the paper wasted every year, etc. And in the article about his comments on the CBC, they mentioned that one program (Studio Tax) already was free, but it had certain restrictions (like, you can't use it if you lived in Quebec, or if you have certain special circumstances). They only ask you to pay what you can for it. I was intrigued, I had never heard of it before - so I looked it up, and it looked good! It was government certified and everything!

After updating my version of Microsoft .NET (a requirement of the program) I was able to do my taxes in under 5 minutes! I just filled in a couple of fields and it did the rest! All that math! It did it all! I was ecstatic! (And I know it did the math correctly, because I also used it to file Dave's mom's taxes, for which I had already done the math - and it was all good!)

I sat on it for about a week, then went back, double checked everything, and generated my .TAX file to upload to the government of Canada's NETFILE website. All done! No paper wasted or anything! Well, except for the forms they had already sent me, of course - but I recycled them, so that's not too bad.

Anyway, it's a fantastic little program, it even has wizards for the main tax forms, and your T4 forms from work, AND it has all those weird extraneous Schedule Forms that aren't included in the main packages that you have to make a special trip to the post office for. It has it all!

If you do use Studio Tax, please make a donation, however small. :)

The Canadian tax deadline is April 30, 2007.