TurboTax vs. H&R Block 2022

TurboTax is popular, but it isn't the clear choice for all. Our opinion: Take a hard look at H&R Block before deciding.

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Competition is fierce among the biggest tax-prep software providers. TurboTax is considered by many to be king, but it may not be the clear choice for everyone.

Here’s our point-by-point comparison to help sort out which is better for you: H&R Block or TurboTax.


Price

FREE TIERS

$0 + $0 per state filed.

For simple tax returns only; it allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free, but you can’t itemize or file schedules 1, 2 or 3 of the 1040.

$0 + $0 per state filed.

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.

PAID PACKAGES

Live Basic $0 (state included).

Free version plus access to a tax pro, advice and a final review until March 31.

Deluxe $59 + $49 per state (Live: $119, $54).

Itemize and claim several tax deductions and credits. Works well for business income but no expenses.

Premier $89 + $49 per state (Live: $169, $54).

Deluxe version plus investment reporting and rental income (Schedules D and E, and K-1s).

Self-Employed $119 + $49 per state (Live: $199, $54).

Premier version plus business income, expenses on a Schedule C, home office deductions and features for freelancers.

Basic Online Assist  $69.99 + $0 per state.

Free version plus access to a tax pro for help and advice. No final review.

Deluxe $49.99 (Online Assist: $109.99) + $44.99 per state.

Itemize and claim several tax deductions and credits. Works well for business income but no expenses.

Premium $69.99 (Online Assist: $159.99) + $44.99 per state.

For investors or rental property owners (Schedules D and E, and K-1s).

Self-Employed $109.99 (Online Assist: $194.99) + $44.99 per state.

For small-business owners, freelancers and independent contractors.


One note about prices: Providers frequently change them. You can verify the latest price by clicking through to the providers' websites.


Features and ease of use

Only one entity determines how the math works on a tax return, and that’s the IRS. So unless there’s a programming error, you should get the same numerical “answer” no matter which tax software you use. But you still have to feed the software all of your information, and there are a million ways to do that. This is why we look at features and ease of use — we want to know which offerings are least likely to make you want to pull your hair out.

H&R Block

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 are in the filing process.

Embedded "learn more" links provide more information without having to wander around, the help menu is visible from all pages, and you can click to access the chat support portal throughout.

TurboTax

TurboTax’s interface is like a chat with a tax preparer, and you can skip around if you need to. A banner running along the side keeps track of where you stand in the process and flags areas you still need to complete.

Embedded links throughout the process offer tips, explainers and other resources. And help buttons can connect you to the searchable knowledge base, on-screen help and more.

Both H&R Block and TurboTax allow you to switch from a different software provider and import tax documents. And both have tools to help you calculate the deduction value of donated items, as well as a mobile app.

Support

H&R Block and TurboTax each offer inline help and searchable knowledge bases, and tech support is available as well.

H&R Block

The Online Assist version of H&R Block’s packages gets you unlimited, on-demand chat 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. The cost runs from $49.99 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 10,000 or so offices around the world. Full-service help at brick-and-mortar stores isn’t free, of course (in-office and virtual appointments start at $80), but it helps to know you can go there if you get confused or stuck.

TurboTax

TurboTax Live offers a one-on-one review with a tax pro before you file, as well as unlimited live tax advice throughout the year. You can talk on the fly to a tax pro via one-way video (you see them, but they don’t see you; they just see your screen).

TurboTax also offers Live Full Service, which does away with tax software altogether. Instead, you upload your tax documents and a human puts together your tax return. You’ll be matched with a tax preparer, meet on a video call before he or she begins working, and then you’ll meet again when your return is ready for review. The preparer files the return for you. Prices range from $199 to $389 for federal returns depending on complexity, plus $49 per state return.

Refunds, audits and other considerations

H&R Block and TurboTax each let you receive a federal refund via direct deposit to a bank account. Other options include getting an old-fashioned paper check, applying the refund to next year’s taxes or directing the IRS to buy U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund.

Both providers offer an option to have your refund loaded onto a prepaid card. And both let you use your refund to pay for your tax-prep fees (but there is a separate fee for that).

If you're audited, 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 for $19.99, which provides personal assistance if it turns out criminals used your personal information to file a fake tax return.

TurboTax gives everyone free audit support from a tax pro to help you understand what’s going on if you get that dreaded letter about your 2021, 2020 or 2019 tax return; if TurboTax can’t connect you with a pro, you’ll get a refund. If you want someone to represent you in front of the IRS, you’ll need TurboTax’s audit defense product, called MAX. It runs an extra $49 and includes features such as identity theft monitoring, loss insurance and restoration help.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Which one is right for you?

Despite its dominant market share in DIY tax prep, TurboTax may not be the clear choice for everyone. Filers with simple returns might be able to get the job done for less with H&R Block, thanks to the expanded capabilities of its free version.

While both providers have robust human support options, the level of help you get varies by price point and package. Filers looking for unlimited, on-demand tax support, including a final review, may lean toward TurboTax Live, which offers all of these features in one neat package despite a higher price point. H&R Block, on the other hand, offers similar support in the form of two separate add-ons — Online Assist and Tax Pro Review — allowing confident filers to pick and pay for what level of support they need.

How do TurboTax and H&R Block compare with other providers?

  • Federal: $46.95 to $94.95. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $39.95 to $54.95.

  • All filers get access to Xpert Assist for free until April 7.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 25% off federal and state filing costs.

  • Federal: $49.99 to $109.99. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $44.99 per state.

  • Online Assist add-on gets you on-demand tax help.

  • Federal: $59 to $119. Free version available for simple returns only.

  • State: $0 to $49 per state.

  • TurboTax Live packages offer review with a tax expert.

Promotion: NerdWallet users can save up to $15 on TurboTax.

  • Federal: $29.95 to $59.95. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $39.95 per state.

  • On-demand tax help at Premium and Self-Employed tiers.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 35% off federal filing.

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