H&R Block is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in finance, serving millions of customers around the country from any of its 12,000 storefronts. And when it comes to online tax software, H&R Block is just as competitive, offering an intuitive interface, strong mobile presence, and in-person consultation — all at an affordable price.
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Although I ultimately found that TurboTax was the single best tax software for 2016, H&R block was not far behind.
Let’s dive deeper into the versions, highlights, and drawbacks of H&R Block’s tax software.
H&R Block Review
H&R Block is considered one of the best resources for anyone filing their taxes. With over 12,000 brick-and-mortar locations, H&R Block has cornered the market on thorough and effective customer service. One of the biggest advantages to using H&R Block’s tax software is the ability to walk into any one of those 12,000 offices and consult with an agent face to face, including free audit support.
In this regard, H&R Block is unmatched, which helped it tussle with TurboTax for the best overall tax software. But despite the fact that TurboTax is slightly more expensive at its highest tier, it’s sleek design and ease of use ultimately gave it the edge over H&R Block.
However, for anyone looking to bridge the gap between accountant and DIY, or simply those looking for the personal touch of a real agent, H&R Block is a solid option that’s right up your alley. Let’s take a glance at what each of H&R Block’s plans have to offer.
H&R Block Federal Free
Like most free tax options, H&R Block Federal Free is designed for those who are filing simple tax returns, such as the 1040A or 1040-EZ forms. However, unlike TurboTax’s free plan, this one includes itemized deductions and support for Schedule B tax returns. All in all, the H&R Block Federal Free edition is an excellent way to test the waters, discover the ins and outs of the software, and possibly file your entire tax return.
Here’s what H&R Block Federal Free Edition has to offer:
- Itemized deductions.
- Schedule B support: This is necessary for anyone with over $1,500 in dividend and interest income.
- Unlimited W-2 importing, helpful for anyone working multiple jobs.
- Affordable Care Act support.
- 5% refund bonus if you accept your federal return in the form of a gift card from one of the supported retailers.
H&R Block Federal Free Cost:
- Federal: Free
- State: $27.99
H&R Block Basic
Not much changes from free to basic, but H&R Block does include some improved importing tools, access to EIC scheduling, and access to previous years’ tax returns.
H&R Block Basic includes everything in the Federal Free edition, plus:
- Schedule EIC support: This is necessary for anyone eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit to file a return.
- Import your previous year’s tax return from H&R Block, TurboTax, or TaxACT.
- Access to past tax returns filed with H&R Block over the previous six years.
- Impressive mobile app access.
H&R Block Basic Cost:
- Federal: $24.99
- State: $36.99
H&R Block Deluxe
H&R Block Deluxe tier is suited for any tax filer with capital gains or losses from investments, as well as people who made over $500 in charitable donations.
H&R Block Deluxe includes everything in the previous plans, plus:
- Charitable donations support.
- Schedule D support: This is necessary for any tax filer with capital gains or losses from investments in assets, real properties, or securities.
- 10% bonus on refunds put on gift cards (versus 5%).
H&R Block Deluxe Cost:
- Federal: $34.99
- State: $36.99
H&R Block Premium
The highest rung on the ladder is H&R Block Premium, which is nearly $30 cheaper than TurboTax’s Home & Business plan. This tier is well suited for the most complicated tax returns, including those of self-employed filers, business owners, landlords, and just about anyone else.
H&R Block Premium includes everything in the previous plans, plus:
- Schedule C support for self-employment tax returns. H&R Block does a top-notch job at streamlining the process of filing a Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ tax return. This is a must-have for freelancers, contractors, small business owners, and other sole proprietors.
- Schedule E support: You’ll need this if you’re reporting income from rentals or similar properties.
H&R Block Premium Cost:
- Federal: $49.99
- State: $36.99
What does H&R Block do right?
- In-person support, including free audit help.
- Well designed software with a good flow.
- One of the best mobile apps in the industry.
- Helpful bookmarking system.
- Comparable tax return access.
- Handy “find a form” tool.
- More affordable than much of the competition.
- Free live chat and phone support.
- Real-time refund tracker.
- Excellent refund bonus.
What does H&R Block do wrong?
- Not as intuitive as TurboTax.
- Some drawbacks in the design of the software.
- Low-priced plans can’t handle complex tax situations.
- Won’t guide you as much as TurboTax will.
Amid the mind-bending jargon of tax season and its labyrinth of loopholes, H&R Block is a solid option to help get you through. While its software may not measure up to TurboTax’s in every way, H&R Block shines by offering in-person access to a real-life tax pro should you need one. For this and many other reasons, H&R Block is the perfect tax software for anyone attempting to prepare their own taxes after having used an accountant in the past — or, for that matter, anyone simply looking for a pro to have their back.
For a strong, intuitive software design at a relatively affordable price, H&R Block is one of the best choices on the market.
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