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H&R Block Tax Software Review 2020

Jan. 24, 2020
Income Taxes, Personal Taxes, Taxes
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H&R Block’s software is a solid contender in the crowded market for tax software, and its network of brick-and-mortar locations offers a warm, fuzzy security blanket. The interface is straightforward and easy to use, and the free version is one of the best on the market.


 

FREE

 

DELUXE

 

PREMIUM

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • Straightforward interface that’s easy to use.
  • Free version is useable to more people than competing free versions are.
  • Access to tax pros on demand but at added cost.
Start your return on H&R Block's website
 

↓ Compare H&R Block with other software

 

FREE

 

DELUXE

 

PREMIUM

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • Straightforward interface that’s easy to use.
  • Free version is useable to more people than competing free versions are.
  • Access to tax pros on demand but at added cost.
Start your return on H&R Block's website
 

↓ Compare H&R Block with other software

 

FREE

 

DELUXE

 

PREMIUM

 

SELF-EMPLOYED

 

Quick facts

  • Straightforward interface that’s easy to use.
  • Free version is useable to more people than competing free versions are.
  • Access to tax pros on demand but at added cost.
Start your return on H&R Block's website
 
 

↓ Compare H&R Block with other software


H&R Block’s prices

One of H&R Block’s biggest pluses is its free version, which is better than most. Like the free tax software from most of its competitors, H&R Block Free lets you file the Form 1040, take the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit and the credit for the elderly or disabled.

But it also lets you file schedules 1, 2 and 3, which is a big bonus because many taxpayers need to file those forms. Schedules 1-3 are forms you would need in the process of reporting things such as business income, alimony, deductible student loan interest, certain retirement contributions, the alternative minimum tax, the credit for dependent care expenses, the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Saver’s Credit.

If you plan to itemize deductions, were a landlord, freelanced or ran a small business or had any other situations going on, you’ll probably need to upgrade to one of H&R Block’s paid packages. These are solid choices as well — maybe not be as flashy as TurboTax, but they’ll get you from Point A to Point B on your tax return without any trouble. And while it isn’t discount software, it’s not the most expensive option either. That makes it a solid choice for value-seekers who still want sturdy support options and modern features.

Available packages and list prices

FREE

• Federal: $0 • State: $0 This option allows you to file a 1040 plus schedules 1, 2 and 3, which makes it usable by a lot more people than most other free software packages.
BASIC ONLINE ASSIST• Federal: $49.99
• 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 (add $99.99 for 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 (for freelancers or small business owners), you’ll need to upgrade.
PREMIUM

• Federal: $69.99 (add $139.99 for Online Assist)
• State: $36.99

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

• Federal: $104.99 (add $169.99 for 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 good-looking, straightforward and easy to use, and it steps up to explain concepts as you go. You can skip around if you want to, and a banner across the top keeps track of where you stand in the process. A Price Preview button up top also tells you the tax-prep package you’re buying and how much it costs.

Handy features

There is a W-2 photo import, which lets you avoid time spent keying in numbers from little boxes. You can import 1099s, and the Premium and Self-Employed packages also import data from some popular expense-tracking apps.

Help is available within the preparation process — terminology in the question-and-answer process is hyperlinked with a “learn more” tag so you can get more information without having to wander around. The help menu updates according to where you are, and you can click to access the Online Assist portal.

H&R Block will import last year’s return from other tax prep companies. The free version doesn’t automatically import last year’s H&R Block return, though.

Where you can use it

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.
  • Tech support: Free 24/7 tech support via chat; free via phone for paid users.
  • One-on-one tax help: Live, on-screen human help via Online Assist or Tax Pro Review (each costs extra).
  • Notable: About 11,000 brick-and-mortar locations.

The Online Assist add-on can be pricey, but it gets you unlimited, on-demand chat, phone or screen-sharing sessions with a CPA, enrolled agent or other tax expert at any point while preparing your return.

There’s another option, too. H&R Block’s Tax Pro Review offers a one-on-one review of your entire return with a human tax pro who will go over your documents and check for accuracy and possible missed deductions or credits within three days; the tax pro will even sign and e-file your return for you. The cost varies from $39.99 to $89.99 this year.

H&R Block’s online software packages also have a unique line of defense: 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.

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 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 users 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.

On top of that, you can buy a product called Tax Identity Shield, which helps you apply for an Identity Protection PIN or Identity Theft Indicator if it turns out criminals have used your personal information to file a fake tax return. That runs $14.99. (If you buy both services together, you’ll pay $24.99, which saves ten bucks.)

If you’re getting a tax refund

No matter how you file, you can choose to receive your refund via direct deposit to a bank account (the fastest option), loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald prepaid debit MasterCard or in the form of a paper check. Other options include applying the refund to next year’s taxes or directing the IRS to buy U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund. H&R will up your refund by 4% if you load the amount to an Amazon e-gift card.

If you buy a paid version of H&R Block, you have the option of paying for it out of your refund. But there’s a $39.95 charge to do so.


How H&R Block compares

TurboTax



Read full review



Read full review



Read full review

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 FAQs


 

Pricing

On the higher end




Ease of use

Clear and helpful interface




Support options

Live video help from a tax pro, online FAQs, 11,000 locations


 

Pricing

Good value pick




Ease of use

Simpler, less focus on design




Support options

Screen sharing, online FAQs, phone and chat


 
Compare more software

The bottom line

H&R Block offers several filing options at reasonable prices, and it’s a solid competitor against TurboTax — especially on the support side with Online Assist and Tax Pro Review. And 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.

Start your return on H&R Block's website

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