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RealTime IT News

The Taxman Cometh

[Edmonton, ALBERTA] Next to having one's wisdom teeth pulled, filing an income tax return has to be one of the worst tasks to perform. The process is getting a little bit easier, however, thanks to Netfile, a new program launched by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

Last year, the CCRA established Netfile as a pilot project, inviting 3.8 million Canadians to file their 1999 tax returns over the Internet. Based on the success of Netfile's first year, the CCRA has extended the invitation to include 22 million Canadian taxpayers for the 2000 tax season. Look for your Web Access Code (WAC) on the address label of the envelope containing your tax forms. The WAC is assigned to enable you to access the government's Netfile transmission Web site. If a WAC is not included on your tax package, contact the CCRC's national help desk at 1.800.714.7257 between February-June 2001, and one will be assigned to you.

In order to take advantage of this electronic filing option, taxpayers must utilize tax preparation software that has been certified by the CCRC. On its Web site, the Agency has yet to officially list the software packages that have been certified (it usually does so in late January), but several software developers are advertising Netfile capabilities.

Among these companies is Intuit Canada, which has announced the release of an updated version of QuickTax. Intuit develops a number of e-finance products, including Quicken, QuickBooks, QuickWealth Planner and ImpotRapide. This latest release of QuickTax, according to Intuit, incorporates all of the new federal tax regulations, including adjustments to capital gains exemptions.

"People who have never used tax software before should know there has never been a better year to try it," said Bruce Johnson, general manager of Intuit Canada Ltd. "[Netfile is] a dramatic step toward a fully electronic tax filing process. Now anyone with access to a computer and the Internet can complete their income tax and benefits return and enjoy faster refunds than ever. We believe that this combination of convenience and the QuickTax quality software solution means that electronic filing is poised to enjoy explosive growth."

Taxwiz and GriffTax are also touting the Netfile capabilities of their software.

By filing one's taxes online, the chances of receiving a tax return quickly are greater. Last year, those who used Netfile (approximately 500,000 people), received their returns in about two weeks. When filing by mail, the average time it takes to receive a tax return is six to eight weeks.