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H&R Block Review: Online Tax Filing Software With Free Option

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Whether you’re a freelance professional or a rental property owner, preparing for your first tax return can be a challenging mission when you start to look through all the forms and regulations.

H&R Block Online tax filing could make sense for many people, and the company has a substantial infrastructure to back up its platform.

No matter what type of business you have, there are factors and rules to understand in your tax situation. If you have a regular job, your investments make your tax life a lot more complex as well. H&R Block has solutions for most people, even if they have a small or medium-sized business.

Having the right tax software on your side will help you manage the process of tax filing and eliminate your stress. H&R Block has a solid feature set, and can probably save you some money over using a live accountant. While you may want to ease into a transition from a traditional tax preparer, it makes sense to explore all your options!

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H&R Block Online Tax Filing

H&R Block is one of the tax preparation companies with a great reputation in the United States.

Together with a strong, user-friendly online tax preparation tool for at-home filers, H&R Block is best known for its tax preparation services which cover taxpayers across America, and also for a great online tax filing system.

Many users think the online program is easy to operate, which is a blessing when tax season rolls around. It comes with a competitive price tag as well (more on that below).

H&R Block Website

H&R Block Features

When it comes to H&R Block’s tax filing features, there’s a lot to look at and it’s impossible for us to include all of them in a review.

As one of the top tax software platforms, H&R Block works to improve and develop its platform with the aim of offering the best experience to customers.

H&R Block primary features include:

  • Access Tax Tools and Calculators
  • W-2 Early Access
  • ACA Calculator
  • W4 Calculator
  • Tax Prep Checklist
  • Tax Information Searching
  • Tax Articles
  • Tax Tips
  • Tax Pro Go

H&R Block key features focus on tax issues that you have to deal with and help lift the burden of hacking your way through complex forms off your shoulders.

Tax Pro Go is certainly worth looking at, and could lifesaver for anyone with a complex tax situation (all figures in $USD).

  • Ask A Tax Pro: This feature gives you free on-demand chat with a tax expert. To discuss specific issues, you can share your computer with the tax pro and use the service on just about any device, such as your computer, tablets, or phone. One thing to note is that on-demand chat operating hours are 8 am to midnight Eastern Time Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern on weekends during tax season.
  • Tax Pro Review: This tool provides a one-on-one review of your entire return with a tax professional in charge of checking for accuracy and possible missed deductions or credits within three days. The tax professional will even sign and e-file your return for you. Connection with your tax pro can be made through protected message or phone call arrangement, and it all depends on your preferred options. Free users will be able to access it for $49.99; Standard users will pay $79.99, and Premium and Self-Employed users will pay $89.99. You can also buy the service for $119.99 as a standalone product plus $36.99 for each state you register in.

Tax Go Pro

In addition to tax services, H&R Block stands out with DeductionPro tool. As we mentioned in Deluxe Plan, this tool will assist you in optimizing your eligible deductions by providing the cost based on the current rates of thrift shops, which is a form of pricing commonly accepted by the IRS.

Plus, you will find the Self-employed package of H&R Block comes with more interesting features such as Business Partner, Business Booster and Business Snapshot. Uber driver tax information can also be automatically imported with this version of H&R Block.

H&R Block Has Even More for You

H&R Block has a deep set of tools to help you get the most from your earnings:

  • Free Customer Support: You have free and unlimited live chat access to technical support agents who can answer basic service questions and help with troubleshooting. The live chat feature operates in Central Time during extended business hours.
  • In-Person Audit Support: No matter which plan you opt for, H&R Block offers free, in-person audit support to all filers. Training is available at your local office, including evaluating and analyzing notices and assisting you in gathering documents to respond to an audit, reviewing audit results, and providing advice on how to respond.
  • Refund Updates with Explanations: When you file your return, you will find that with each new piece of information submitted, the amount of your federal refund, visible on the left sidebar, varies. Such changes take place in real-time and provide detailed explanations as to why they have changed, a useful feature if you want to know more about how taxes work.
  • Pay with Your Refund and Refund Bonus: H&R Block enables you to pay with your federal or state refunds for its tax preparation services, removing the need to pay in advance when you file. You are eligible to receive a 5% discount on your maximum refund balance when you choose to collect your tax refund on an Amazon gift card: $25 on a $500 refund, and so on. There is no bonus for refunds earned by direct deposit, credit for quarterly estimated tax payments, or any other way.
  • Tax Return Preparation with No Need of H&R Block account: You do not need to create an account right away with H&R Block and still get H&R Block’s help to start preparing your tax return. Once you file and pay, you still have to open an account, or if you want to be able to save your refund.

H&R Block Features

How Much does H&R Block Charge?

H&R Block has four versions of it’s tax-filing plans, one hybrid plan with expert assistance throughout the preparation process at predefined checkpoints, and a customizable CPA- or EA-assisted plan that is basically a remote version of in-office preparation.

The company has a detailed accounting policy for all of these plans; if the program makes an error resulting in an IRS penalty, H&R Block offers to pay the penalty and any additional interest, up to $10,000 per tax year. Like many tax preparation technology providers, as tax day approaches, H&R Block increases the rates.

The date of the price increases varies from year to year and is not generally known well in advance. So it pays to begin your return as early as possible in the season, even if you still don’t have all the required paperwork to finish your return.

Free

Deluxe

Premium

Self-employed

Federal Pricing

$0

$29.99

&44.99

$79.99

State Pricing

$29.99

$36.99

$36.99

$36.99

Best For

W-2s with no investment income or rental properties

Itemizers

Investors & Rental Property Owners

Business Owners, Independent Contractors & Freelancers

Free Plan

H&R Block Free Plan allows you to snap a pic of your W-2 and to import easily from certain employers. Your tax return from last year will be automatically imported if you used TurboTax or TaxAct. This is an ideal pricing option for renters or those with tax problems like income credit earned, childcare costs, interest on student loans or social security support.

Free Plan

Another big advantage of the free version is that it will also import your federal filing data into your state taxes automatically, and then you will just need to answer a few questions. There’s plenty of free software for federal taxes, but in general state tax filing is more expensive.

Audit guidance is available for all the pricing plans. If your taxes are basic, including different forms of income but very few deductions or credits, this may be the level at which you want your taxes to be filed. The free plan doesn’t offer automatic access to tax advice based on chat, but you can always upgrade to the Deluxe plan if needed.

Deluxe Plan

Deluxe Plan comes with all the features of the free version but also gives you 6 years’ access to DeductionPro tool, tax return, and technical support through chat or phone. DeductionPro is a powerful tool of H&R Block, which helps optimize all of your eligible deductions.

Deluxe

Premium Plan

Premium Plan consists of everything in Deluxe, as well as more income and expense support for rental property, cost base for property sales, gifts, inheritance assets, and more. It is a better choice for those with more complicated self-employment taxes, such as those who need to report simple business income and deductions using Schedule C-EZ.

Premium

Schedule D for disclosing stock, bond and other equity investment income is also required. And it allows you to determine the cost base of home sales, dividends, gifts, and heritage assets, as well as importing expenses from some popular apps like Stride.

Self-Employed Plan

Self-Employed Plan is the most expensive package from H&R Block and of course, you get your money’s worth. This solution is ideal for self-employed persons whose income and expenses for Schedule C-EZ or rental property owners are too complicated. It comes with all the other options forms, but it includes the complete form of Schedule C.

Self Employed

H&R Block Tax Filing – The Rundown

Consistently rated as one of the best products on the market, H&R Block offers the extra opportunity to get in-person help at any of its regional offices.

  • With H&R Block live chat and audit support, you can save a ton of your time and money.
  • Both its online and tax software services provide 100% accuracy or a full refund guarantee including free audit help if it misses something.
  • The software allows you to easily start importing your previous reports from other tax preparers, such as TurboTax, TaxAct and Credit Karma, for example. H&R Block can help SMEs find common business deductions, pay off start-up costs, and complete the forms like Schedule C.
  • Unlike some of their rivals, H&R Block discloses its rates at the beginning. Small businesses are best served by a Self-Employed plan and will be able to anticipate what tax preparation costs will be.
  • Additionally, you are able to get free expert advice from the H&R Block tax specialist group, which is a really nice perk. Although most H&R Block preparers are not CPAs, many of them are ARE Enrolled Agents, which is the IRS ‘ only recognized designation.
  • An EA can represent you with or without you present in front of the IRS. EAs have an understanding of tax law for all legal entities that are required to file a tax return. H&R Block includes support for any issues that may arise throughout the year.

How easy is it to use?

H&R Block is not the easiest-to-use tax filing software nor even the cheapest, but this makes it the best match for those who want to have the best customer support and guidance options while preparing to file taxes.

Using the software can feel tedious at times, but the reason for it is to ensure you are actually doing everything correctly. For those with no knowledge about tax returns, this is rather a large advantage and isn’t a waste of your time. Standing out with plenty of powerful features, H&R Block’s price, however, is the biggest disadvantage.

Tax Pro Go is very useful for overwhelmed filers who cannot be bothered with making their own returns, and for taxpayers who are frustrated by the difficulty of their circumstances but you’re likely to be disappointed if you plan to save money with Tax Pro Go.

Personal Contact

The interview process for H&R Block is not as comprehensive as some alternatives.

It may introduce some general information to you, depending on your situation, and ask you to make a potentially important decision on your own instead of assessing your situation on the basis of your responses to specific questions and then recommending a course of action.

By adding Tax Pro Review or upgrading to Tax Pro Go, which brings professional tax preparers into the picture, you can get around this issue. Nonetheless, you may want to consider your choice carefully since both options add significantly to your return’s final cost.

For experienced filers, the interview process and navigation system of H&R Block may be too meticulous. You can’t skip parts that don’t relate to your tax situation once you start your return. Alternatively, before moving to the next part, you have to answer every question.

Only after completing a specific part of your return will you move back to it (or forward) without running through all the interview questions again.

Many versions of other systems, including TaxAct, allow you to skip around. This is a big advantage for filers who know what to do and when to focus on, but also a point that H&R Block should improve. If you are willing to pay accordingly, you can get around this problem by upgrading your contract.

The H&R Block Online Tax Filing Interface

Starting your taxes with H&R Block is quite simple. After entering some basic information about yourself (full name, birth date, and social security number), you’re then moved to the main screen.

There are three tabs at the top of the screen: Federal, State, and File overview.

Dashboard

Sections for your income, deductions, credits and more are listed under each of these sections. The software fills out each appropriate form as you provide more information and display real-time updates to your federal and state tax return figures.

If any errors are found in the system by the program, it will mark them for you to correct. When complete, the final forms will be shown so that before filing them you can give them a once-over.

H&R Block uses an interview-style tax preparation process that guides you through your federal and state returns methodically, ensuring that you have accessed all sources of income and reviewed all the correct credits and deductions along the way.

Ask a Tax Pro

One thing that needs to be noted is that such parts need to be finished in order, you can’t choose what to work on at which time and can only skip to sections that have already been completed.

H&R Block is a perfect choice for people who have more complicated tax returns. The software offers you the option of having a tax professional review your return. Plus, you can also transfer your return to a live tax professional throughout an extensive network of tax preparation offices across the country if you think it’s a good idea.

Tax Return

Conclusion

Overall, H&R Block is a solid pick for those with more complicated tax situations. Whether you’re an experienced tax filer or you have no idea how tax filing should be done, H&R Block gets you covered, and also offers some great upgrade options.

There’s certainly a lot to improve with the long-term navigation and limited abilities to import from other programs. H&R Block was a brick-and-mortar tax service for decades, and this may explain why the interface can feel a little ‘clunky’ at times.

However, on the bright side, H&R Block offers moderate prices with good services, as well as in-person (and physical offices), enhanced website interfaces.

It also has robust options for DIY filers requiring some extra support and flexible payment options. All these great features make it worth checking out if you are looking for a new tax filing option.

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H&R Block

8.2

Ease of Use

7.0/10

Fees

8.0/10

Reputation

9.0/10

Customer Support

9.0/10

Design

8.0/10

Pros

  • Affordable Software
  • Excellent Support & Guidance
  • Guaranteed Accuracy
  • In-Person Support Available
  • Access to six years of past tax returns

Cons

  • User Experience Could Be Improved
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Nicholas is an experienced Finance Journalist who has written for a number of prominent online publications. He grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a father that would read him the Wall St. Journal along side of other bed-time fare. He has traveled extensively, and been lucky enough to study a changing global economy in person. Nicholas spent many years in the Southern Cone of South America, sometimes in the middle of the countryside where livestock starts its journey to all points of the globe. Today he is thoroughly bemused with the stance that Central Banks have taken in the wake of the 2008 meltdown. There is no telling what will come out of the global financial system next, but he is glad that he lives somewhere that gold can be bought and sold readily! nick@moneycheck.com


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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