Are you sitting down? Are you ready for a spike in your heart rate? Have you fastened your seatbelt if you are somewhere that has seatbelts? Because we’re about to tell you exciting news concerning... taxes!
OK, even if taxes are not exciting for most people, we’re actually pretty thrilled about this news: SimpleTax is now part of Wealthsimple. It’s the first time we are reaching outside of saving and investing to help clients improve their overall financial health. And it means, as a company, we’re now helping more than a million Canadians do money better.
In order to help explain how it happened and why it happened and what it all means, we’ve conducted an interview with ourselves.
Hey, this is truly exciting. But our first question is: what is SimpleTax?
This is an important question! SimpleTax is an online tool that helps people prepare their own taxes. You just type in your name, address, answer a few super basic questions, then choose whether you’d like to input all the relevant tax figures manually, or just allow the CRA’s records to auto-fill your return like magic. SimpleTax then alerts you to any potentially expensive goofs you might have made. If you’re e-filing, all you have to do is press a button and your return will travel at light speed through the tubes of the internet and arrive instantly at the CRA. SimpleTax also guarantees that you’ll get back the biggest possible refund.
The company was started just seven years ago by Jonathan Suter, his partner Allison Suter, and their friend Justin Reynen. Just like everyone else, these guys dreaded doing their taxes. When they learned that the majority of Canadians — even those with the most uncomplicated returns — paid professional preparers a lot of money to avoid doing their own taxes, they saw an opportunity to hack the experience. They succeeded.
But why make it part of Wealthsimple? It’s not a powerful tool to build wealth like the other stuff you do.
“Powerful tool to build wealth” — that’s a good phrase. We might borrow that one. But actually SimpleTax is a powerful tool to build wealth (look, we already used it!). It means you don’t have to pay extra for services you don’t need, it means you can simplify your financial life. It’s also perfectly aligned with our greater mission to use technology (and nice humans who provide advice) to make those tools available to everyone.
But mostly we thought it’d be revolutionary (not to mention sensible and smart) if you didn’t have to leave the Wealthsimple family to do your taxes. We’re the folks who are already generating a lot of your tax slips, after all, right? We’re the place you’re going to be depositing your tax refund, right? (Please tell us you’re investing your tax refund instead of blowing it on tattoos and hot tubs). Couldn’t we help make taxes simpler?
Which brings us to other similarities: both companies are proudly Canadian, boast intuitive, easy-on-the-eyes (we might even say sexy) websites — and we both like the word Simple.
That sounds cool. Did they charge a lot?
Well, they had a pretty radical idea when it came to their fee. Users could pay what they thought was fair. Use the service, see how it works, and then decide: want to pay a penny? Go ahead and pay a penny! Considering that 99% of users rated the SimpleTax experience four stars or higher, most felt the service was worth more than that.
Why didn’t you just make a digital tax preparation service yourself?
We almost did! But when Wealthsimple’s own employees joined hundreds of thousands of other happy Canadians and started using SimpleTax, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to make something that’s any Wealthsimpler than what the SimpleTax folks already made. We just fell in love with it is the truth.
But what about if you already use and like SimpleTax? Is it going away?
Taxes are stressful enough already without us blowing up the service that’s helping you prepare for them. You’ll find the SimpleTax you love exactly where you always have — we’re not even changing the web address. Or the real address: SimpleTax will remain a 100% Canadian run company, just like Wealthsimple.
But we do have some pretty cool ideas about integrating SimpleTax even more seamlessly into what we do at Wealthsimple. Look for those soon.
But wait, when I first heard of Wealthsimple, you guys were just a company that helped people invest. Suddenly seems like you do way more than that?
We’re glad you noticed. The SimpleTax thing is part of a bigger plan to make your entire financial life easier, smarter, and more lucrative — to be the only financial relationship you need. It started with automated investing five years ago, but since then we’ve launched services that let you trade stocks for free, save money at a higher interest rate, invest in socially responsible companies, even deposit inflation-adjusted payouts under your children’s pillows and with a signed note from the tooth fairy. (The last one isn’t true... yet.)
So consider this the wedding of your favourite financial companies. And before you hit the open bar, remember, you haven’t lost your favourite tax preparer, you’ve gained another Simple.