Penny Stradeski does some taxes returns on Feb. 22, 2013.
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Dealing with printed forms is yesterday’s news to many local taxpayers who prefer filing online.
And the practice is being encouraged. Officials with the Canada Revenue Agency last month urged more Canadians to file their taxes online. The practice benefits the federal government as more online tax submissions means more savings.
Local resident Roy Lucas hasn’t filed his 2012 taxes yet, but expects to have it completed sometime in the middle of March. Tax time isn’t stressful or difficult for Lucas, who says paying online makes the entire process simple.
“It’s fantastic actually,” he said.
“It’s so much easier and so much quicker. I don’t do it but my wife does. She finds it very easy. We have the information and we feed it into Revenue Canada. You also get your money back faster too.”
He suspects paper tax forms will one day be extinct, and believes a feeling of security is the main reason why some people continue to resist online filing .
“It’s not difficult to go electronically. It’s like paying bills. People still don’t like paying bills electronically but it is still the easiest method to transfer your money. I think older people are getting more confident the more they practice.”
Another local taxpayer, who didn’t feel comfortable providing a name, said she’s already filed her taxes and was able to because it was all online.
“I do everything online now,” she said.
“I hate keeping files so I do everything on the computer. It took me half an hour. The last time I tried doing it on paper, it took me a couple of hours. I highly recommend it. If you’re not too concerned about security and you take the proper precautions, I think it is much better to do it online.”
But not everyone was ready to do away with their printed forms.
Murray Carlson said he tried filing them online but preferred sticking with the paper version.
“It wasn’t very good on the computer,” he said. “It took too much time. It’s easier to take it to (H&R Block).”
Marianne Murphy agrees with Carlson, although she still suspects printed tax forms will not be an option sometime in the future.
“I wouldn’t necessarily trust the stuff online being able to get there,” she said.
Penny Stradeski, a senior tax professional with H&R Block, has helped residents file their taxes for the past 34 years. The volume of people coming into for help usually depends on when the tax slips come out.
H&R Block has offered online tax returns for clients for some time. The program being offered is useful for those filing a basic return.
Stradeski said filing online is probably going to do away with the paper document some time down in the future.
“It makes sense for Revenue Canada to move toward the electronic filing,” she said. “It’s certainly a cost cutting measure for them. It can be an ease for taxpayers as well and it quickens the refund. They’re coming in eight to 10 days on average. It used to take months to come sometimes. I can see down the line that it is (online) or nothing.”
Stradeski pointed out there are downfalls as well.
Filing online is only beneficial for those who own and have access to a computer. Stradeski said there’s also a number of people who like to see a physical document, which has become more difficult as slips aren’t mailed out anymore.
She said taxpayers have to go to a post office to pick up the forms and they only offer the basic form.
Anything else has to be requested and sent from Revenue Canada.
Even though taxes are being done online, Stradeski said they offer assistance over the phone and anyone came down and visit the H&R Block office for help free of charge.
She said people come in waves until mid-March where it becomes a steady flow of clients.
Throughout her years, she said there’s no common problem as each individual has their own unique difficulties and challenges.
“Lots of people don’t understand why they owe, if they owe and they don’t understand why their refund last year’s was X amount of dollars and then this year it isn’t the same even though nothing has changed. You tried to explain as much as you can in English and try not to overwhelm them with the technical difficulties.”
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