H&R Block Tax Software Review 2021

Tina OremJanuary 19, 2021

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H&R Block’s software is a solid contender in the crowded market for tax software. Though it’s not the most expensive of the tax software providers we reviewed, H&R Block online tax software isn’t the cheapest either.

Still, its free version is one of the best on the market, the interface is straightforward and easy to use and on-screen help from a human is available for an extra cost.

FREE

PREMIUM

DELUXE

SELF-EMPLOYED

Quick facts

  • Straightforward interface that’s easy to use.

  • Free version is an option for more people than competing free versions.

  • Access to tax pros on demand at an added cost.


H&R Block's prices

One of H&R Block’s biggest pluses is its free version, which is better than most.

What you get from H&R Block's free version

Like the free tax software from most of its competitors, H&R Block Free lets you file the Form 1040, take the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. And this year, it can also handle unemployment income.

H&R Block’s free version also lets you file schedules 1 and 3 of Form 1040, which is a big bonus because many taxpayers need to file those forms in order to report things such as deductible student loan interest, business income, certain retirement contributions, alimony, the credit for dependent care expenses, the Lifetime Learning Credit and the Saver’s Credit.

While H&R Block's free version has expanded capabilities, if you plan to itemize deductions, were a landlord, freelanced or ran a small business, you’ll probably need to upgrade to one of its paid packages.

Available packages and list prices

FREE

• Federal: $0 • State: $0

Allows you to file a 1040 plus schedules 1 and 3, which makes it usable by a lot more people than most other free software packages.

BASIC ONLINE ASSIST

• Federal: $69.99 • State: $0

This is essentially the free version but with on-demand video access to a tax pro for help, advice and a final review.

DELUXE

• Federal: $49.99 ($109.99 with Online Assist) • State: $36.99

This version lets you itemize and claim several tax deductions and tax credits, but if you’re an investor, landlord or filing a Schedule C with business expenses (for freelancers or small business owners), you’ll need to upgrade.

PREMIUM

• Federal: $69.99 ($159.99 with Online Assist) • State: $36.99

If you’re an investor or have rental property (that is, you need to file a Schedule D or E or have K-1s), this is for you.

SELF-EMPLOYED

• Federal: $109.99 ($194.99 with Online Assist) • State: $36.99

This package does it all for small-business owners, freelancers and independent contractors. It also imports Uber driver tax information.

One note about prices: Providers frequently change them. We’ll keep updating this review, but you can verify the latest price by clicking through to H&R Block’s site. H&R Block also offers desktop software, where your return doesn't reside in the cloud, but it’s not part of our review.


H&R Block's ease of use

What it looks like

H&R Block’s interface is visually simple, straightforward and easy to use, and it steps up to explain concepts as you go. Skipping around to specific spots can be a little tricky, but a banner across the top keeps track of where you stand in the filing process.

Embedded "learn more" links provide more information without having to wander around, the help menu updates according to where you are and you can click to access the chat support portal throughout.

A Price Preview button up top tells you which package you’re buying, whether you’ve also selected add-ons and how much your total software bill is so far.

Handy features

You can switch from another provider: H&R Block can import last year’s return from a TurboTax data file or from a PDF of your tax return from any provider.

Auto-import certain tax documents: You can import your W-2 from your employer or upload a photo of it, which lets you avoid time spent keying in numbers from little boxes. You can import many kinds of 1099s, and the Self-Employed version also lets you import your 1099-K or 1099-MISC directly from Uber if you have a driver’s account.

Donation calculator: The Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed packages also integrate DeductionPro, which helps calculate the deduction value of donated clothes, household items and other objects.

Platform mobility: Because the software is online, you can log in from other devices if you choose to work on your return here and there. There is also a mobile app available.


H&R Block's support options

Here's a look at the various ways you can find answers and get guidance when filing your return with H&R Block.

Ways to get help

  • General guidance: Searchable knowledge base, video tutorials.

  • Tech support: Free chat or phone tech support for paid users.

  • One-on-one human tax help: Live, on-screen help from a tax pro is available if you buy the Online Assist versions. You can also buy access at the end if you buy Tax Pro Review.

The Online Assist version of H&R Block’s packages gets you unlimited, on-demand chat, phone or screen-sharing sessions with a certified public accountant, enrolled agent or other tax expert at any point while preparing your return. (You can see them; they see only your screen.) The tax pro will not review, sign or e-file your return for you, though.

H&R Block’s Tax Pro Review offers a one-on-one review of your completed return with a human tax pro who will go over your documents and check for accuracy and possible missed deductions or credits; if you want, the tax pro will also sign and e-file your return for you. (If you used this service last year, a new perk is that you can request the same tax pro.) The cost runs $39.99 to $89.99, and the review usually happens within three days.

H&R Block also has another option: an enormous band of human tax preparers at the company’s 11,000 or so offices around the world. Help at brick-and-mortar stores isn’t free, of course (in-office appointments start at $69), but it helps to know you can go there if you get hopelessly wrapped around the axle. (Call ahead to see if there are any COVID-19 protocols you need to know.)

Not all of H&R Block’s tax pros are CPAs or enrolled agents, but the company says they undergo over 60 hours of training and complete an additional 30-plus hours of annual training to get ready for tax season.

If you're audited

Getting audited is scary, so it’s important to know what kind of support you’re getting from your tax software. First, be sure you know the difference between "support" and "defense." With most providers, audit support (or "assistance") typically means guidance about what to expect and how to prepare — that’s it. Audit defense, on the other hand, gets you full representation before the IRS from a tax professional.

H&R Block offers free audit support, but you also can buy a product called Worry-Free Audit Support. This gets you contact with an enrolled agent to guide you through an audit. It includes IRS correspondence management, audit preparation and in-person audit representation, and it costs $19.99.

You could also add Tax Identity Shield, which provides personal assistance if it turns out criminals used your personal information to file a fake tax return. It comes free with Tax Pro Review, but you can also get it a la carte for $14.99.

If you're getting a tax refund

No matter how you file, you can choose to receive your refund in several ways:

A direct deposit to a bank account is the fastest option. You can also have it loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald prepaid debit Mastercard (if you’re getting a refund on your state taxes, see if your state offers a prepaid card option as well) or sent as a paper check.

H&R Block touts that it'll add a 3.5% bonus if you put your refund on an Amazon gift card. You can also apply the refund to next year’s taxes, or direct the IRS to buy U.S. savings bonds with your refund.

You have the option of paying for the software out of your refund. But there’s a $39 charge to do that.


How H&R Block compares

Pricing On the higher end.

Ease of use Q&A user flow is one of the best.

Support options Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQ.

Pricing On the higher end.

Ease of use Clear and helpful interface.

Support options Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQ, 11,000 locations.

Pricing Good value pick.

Ease of use Simpler, less focus on design.

Support options Screen sharing, online FAQ, phone and chat.


The bottom line

H&R Block offers several filing options and it’s a solid competitor against TurboTax — especially if you want remote access to a human tax pro. If you want to file your taxes online but would feel better knowing you can run to a human at a desk in a brick-and-mortar office if you get stuck, H&R Block stands alone.