I do the returns for myself, my wife, and our two children. Takes me about 15-20 minutes per return. I spend $40 every year on CRA-approved commercial tax preparation software (Intuit's Quicktax), and I'd consider it cheap at twice the price. Saves me hours, mostly because it does all the arithmetic correctly the first time, knows all about the necessary schedules and supplementary forms, and I can send the returns in over the Internet, or print and mail them.
Income taxes aren't that hard, really, most people's tax situation is really pretty simple, don't let it intimidate you. If you've got investment or dividend income from multiple sources, foreign income, capital gains or losses, run your own business, have rental property, etc., it can get messy, but if you're into that kind of stuff you probably already have an accountant taking care of things for you. Or you should have.
Most of us though, are plain old wage earners. If you can read and do simple arithmetic, you can probably do your own income tax return in a couple of hours. There are relatively few things you really need to know about.
-you'll have T4 forms from your employers showing what you were paid and what deductions were taken from you,
-you might have a T5 form or two if you have investment income,
-if you're a student you'll need form T2202A from the educational institution, because tuition's deductible and you also get a monthly deduction for every month you were attending school,
-if you have child care expenses you'll need receipts from the caregivers (summer camp fees count too!),
-if you made contributions to a private pension fund you'll have a receipt from whoever manages the fund,
-you'll have receipts for any charitable donations you made,
-alimony and child support payments to a former spouse are also deductible. That income is taxable in the former spouse's hands.
-if you moved to a new city to take a new job some of your moving expenses are deductible (long as you have receipts) .
-medical expenses that exceed 3% of your net income will also give you a deduction.
You should also know that if you're a student and have more than enough deductions to reduce your taxable income to zero, you can transfer the rest of your tuition and education deductions to a spouse, parent, or grandparent, or carry them forward to use in future years yourself.
That'll cover 90% of us I bet. What's the minimum fee an outfit like H&R Block charges for the simplest tax returns, around $100? Is your time worth $50 an hour to you? Or spend $40 on something like Quicktax and ask yourself is your time worth $30 an hour to you? And think about this: commercial tax preparers like H&R Block usually offer a guarantee that if they make a mistake that incurs interest charges or penalties for you, they'll pay them. You know whose side that puts them on when it comes to maximizing your deductions? Not yours.