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H & R Block Review
H&R Block at a glance
|H&R Block Online||$0 federal, $0 per state||$37.49 federal, $44.99 per state||$52.49 federal, $44.99 per state||$78.74 federal, $44.99 per state|
|H&R Block Online Assist||$49.99 federal, $0 per state||$99.99 federal, $44.99 per state||$139.99 federal, $44.99 per state||$169.99 federal, $36.99 per state|
|Who should use it||Filers with kids, education costs and/or a W-2||Homeowners, filers with donations or HSAs||Filers with investment or rental property income, freelancers and contractors||Self-employment and small business income.|
What we like about it
H&R Block‘s tax software offers a comprehensive free version which is one of the best on the market, if not the best. It has more forms included than many competitors — about 47 total, which is about twice as many as Turbo Tax offers. The company also provides free chat support no matter which package you purchase, as well as the ability to import your W-2 via mobile device camera and import your previous year’s returns from other tax preparers. Further, the price preview feature allows you to see updates as you go so you can understand how your choices impact your costs.
As for H&R Block’s tax professionals, they are well equipped. Before they can prepare their first return, they undergo 60 hours of training. Further, the average client is served by an H&R professional with more than 12 years of tax prep experience and hundreds of hours of training. So if you need help from a representative, you’ll be in good hands.
Things to consider
There are two online filing options to choose between. The less expensive one does not include on-demand help from a CPA or tax professional.
If your business is considered larger than a small business, H&R Block will most likely not be able to help you prepare your returns. Standards for what constitutes a small business are different across industries and fields. To see if you qualify as a small business, use the Size Standards Table for each industry from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Additionally, if you have a less cumbersome tax return, there are cheaper options. Competitors, such as TaxSlayer or TaxAct, may not offer as many functions or support options, but they will likely save you money on your filing fees.
H&R Block features
Both the online and online-assist versions of H&R Block’s tax software come with an on-demand chat feature. All H&R versions also come with the ability to import your W-2 by merely taking a picture of it with your phone. If you opt for the upgraded version, you get all of the previously mentioned features, plus the bonus of being able to screen-share and get unlimited professional help via phone.
As already mentioned, H&R Basic is great if you have a simple 1040 to file as the free version comes with an abundance of forms. In addition, the free version offers no additional charge for multiple state filings. In comparison, TurboTax’s free version allows for one state free; each extra state costs $29.99.
The Deluxe package is the most popular. It was rated No. 1 in online tax prep by P.C. Magazine in 2019. If your tax return involves donations, an HSA or if you are a homeowner, this option will likely work for you. With unlimited tech support, H&R Block’s package costs $106.98. For a comparable package through TurboTax (including $60 for tech support), it will cost $160.
The Premier package is the next step up. H&R Block appears to have the advantage in this category because it offers the ability to use this choice if you are a freelancer or subcontractor with simple earnings. Filing through H&R Block costs roughly $150 instead of having to purchase the self-employed + Live option at $190 with TurboTax.
If you get a refund, you can have it directly deposited into an account of your choice. If you prefer a paper check in the mail, be aware there is a $25 fee. Additionally, H&R Block currently has a promotion with Amazon where if you put some or all of your refund on an Amazon gift card, an additional 4% bonus will be added.
Lastly, if you have any version but the free version, be aware that H&R Block charges a $40 fee to have the filing payment deducted from your federal refund instead of paying with a credit or debit card.
H&R Block help and support
Support is offered in many different capacities. Even if you don’t pay for the unlimited help, you still have access to on-demand chat services, community Q&A forums, video and software support. H&R Block also has a feature directly on its site to check the status of your refund.
And with the premium add-on of unlimited help, users receive live chat and phone support to help finish up their 2019 taxes.
Is H&R Block worth the price?
H&R Block’s online software offers multiple tiers with great features along with competitive pricing. It is cheaper overall for the same, if not a slightly better, product than competitor TurboTax.
However, filers with more simple tax returns or whose income is under a certain threshold can greatly benefit from the IRS’s free file page that lists all the software that you can use to file your federal taxes — and even state taxes, in some cases — for free.