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From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.

Readers respond: Why the Canada Revenue Agency should do our taxes for us

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I’ve been saying this for years (and I’m a retired CPA). It’s unconscionable that the government should not provide an online solution to allow us to comply with the legislation.

There are so many other online government services. Why not tax-filing? No excuse. –MarkTilley

I so agree as the CRA already has all the information for most people! It reminds me a few years back when I forgot to send a T5 from a bank. I had to pay a penalty for not sending it in, meanwhile they already knew about it as the bank had already provided that information directly to them. Redundant much? Canada is so backward in so many ways. –Bullet

With help from my father I filed my first tax return when I was 16 years old. A few weeks later it was pure joy to receive my small tax refund cheque in the mail. It was the first cheque made out to me that I had ever received.

I have done my own (paper) returns for each of the subsequent 56 years. I will continue on this path as long as I am able. I have never read the complete income tax act but I do read the guide each year that accompanies my tax package. I find this keeps me current with the most recent changes affecting my return.

My return is not particularly complicated but I am aggressive in deduction claims against my agricultural land rental income. When I was working I was equally aggressive claiming expenses incurred to earn my income. Sometimes the CRA allowed them and sometimes not. You never ask, you never receive.

In all this time doing my own taxes I can remember just one single instance of CRA catching an arithmetic error that I made.

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My expenses are the postage required to mail my return. In 57 years of filing taxes I might have paid cumulative postage of $25.00. My first tax return required a nickel stamp. Dad insisted that I pay. –retired juggie

‘Why not propose a sales tax?’ Readers propose alternatives for Alberta’s economy, plus other letters to the editor

‘Alberta could learn a lesson or two about how to behave in the face of adversity.’ Readers debate Alberta’s fortunes as oil prices plummet, plus other letters to the editor

‘Alberta seems locked in the past, with neither care nor vision for the future.’ Readers react to Alberta’s oil-friendly budget, plus other letters to the editor

Melissa King/Getty Images/iStockphoto

At 70 years old, I have no problem doing my income tax every year. Yes, taxes gets a little more complicated every year, but that’s the beauty of it. It keeps my mind sharp to have to figure out everything associated with the tax forms. As a self-employed person, I have a return that is a lot harder to do than it is for people working in corporations. I still do a paper return with the help of Studio Tax, which is a great help in recalculating the whole tax form if I happen to make an error with an entry. And I don’t complain when I have to pay $107,116.75 in one year as I had to in 2015. I celebrate and congratulate myself for being creative and prosperous enough to generate the pretax income that allows me to pay this income tax. –Ernie Zelinski

Just sent mine in. The Ontario forms are the worst I’ve ever seen them. Who decided to number the lines in the 30,000s? Bizarre. –Bob.McK

Filing a paper return requires Grade 6 math and literacy skills, no more. And the reason the paper return is longer this year is that they have done away with Schedule 1, which was more work than the new form.

Yes, autofilling for those in simple tax situations would make a certain amount of sense. But my taxes are slightly complex, and I finished the job in about 30 minutes, new forms and all.

As an aside, I still file with paper and will continue to do so until the CRA smartens up and offers a web-based filing option that does not involve third-party software – particularly software I am expected to pay for. It’s my own little act of civil disobedience against a bloated and incompetent organization. –WhistlingInTheDark

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People fill in paper returns? They don’t do it online or with software?

Maybe they still use quill pens as well. –The Internet

blackred/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

I’ve been doing personal and corporate income tax and GST returns since 1982. The filing process has never been easier. For anyone who is willing and is also able to do basic arithmetic and use a computer keyboard, I can show them how to do their own return.

Notwithstanding, there is no excuse in 2020: Our income returns should be prepopulated with data, by the feds, and e-mailed to us to review, fine-tune if necessary and submit. –BAGCMC

If they were serious about making taxes easier, they should really just implement a simple flat-tax system. No special categories for anything, no tax write-offs. Everyone making over $30,000 pays 20-per-cent income taxes total and that is it. No escaping it with dividends or trusts, no tax credits for having kids or making donations. Simplify it, it would be a lot fairer and cost a ton less to enforce! Think of the savings in bookkeeping costs and accounting fees! –Angus S Miskers

wichayada suwanachun/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

The number of pages in our tax forms is a scathing indictment of the complexity of our tax system. Not mentioned in this article is that most Canadians have someone else complete their tax return, again an indication of the complexity. A simple return will cost you about $100 at major tax preparation chains. I volunteer at a free tax clinic for modest income folks and I am constantly surprised at what some big name firms charge for doing a simple basic return. –ROLLERBLADER1A

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As long as the CRA provided optimized returns between me and my spouse (optimized for us, not Ottawa), I’m all for it. –ark262

Given the government’s track record in building computer systems (the Phoenix pay system, the gun registry) it would be far cheaper for them to just buy a copy of TurboTax for every Canadian taxpayer. –DonnaF2

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