H&R Block is very unique for a tax preparation service in that it not only provides software with live chat support, but that you can also drop by one of their thousands of United States locations to receive one-on-one interaction if you prefer that method to customer support.
Fittingly, H&R Block arguably has the very best support of any tax prep service. The number of different options is sensational. The convenience is further enhanced because the actual software is really easy to use as well.
H&R Block has not provided an online version of its tax prep for near as long as TurboTax, one of its primary competitors, though still have a very strong presence and reputation. You could say that many recognize it due to its thousands of brick and mortar stores, as well as its distinct branding.
- Straightforward and tremendous easy to use
- Crisp and clear presentation does not make taxes confusing
- Live, on-demand support through the software from tax pros
- Instant upload of W-2s through photos
- Brick and mortar stores can assist you in-person, unlike just about any other type of online tax service
- More expensive than most of the tax services on the internet
- Refund can get applied to costs for H&R services, yet extra fee is charged
- Several great support features but almost all of them cost extra to use
Like any online tax prep service it is only as strong as its software. Thankfully, H&R Block has designed an interface that is very straightforward. The entire process is easy to understand and the presentation looks great.
The W-2 import feature is a really great concept. Similar to TurboTax, the feature provides taxpayers with the ability to spend a lot less time on filing by not having to manually enter W-2 information.
Instead, you simply snap a photo of the document on your smartphone and the software automatically uploads the data for you.
Another important feature with tax software that is online is the ability to access the preparation services from a number of different devices. H&R Block supports traditional PC or laptop access, as well as smartphones and tablets.
The app is very mobile-friendly which is ideal for customers on the go and who only want to work on the taxes every now and then.
You do not need to have much, if any experience with filing taxes in order to use H&R Block. The service helps explain crucial personal income and small business tax terms as many of the words throughout the process are hyperlinked and serve as quick references.
The dashboard helps monitor progress made on your taxes which is oddly rewarding as you realize you’re one more step toward completing another filing and hopefully finding out what type of return you are getting.
Lastly, H&R Block will import last year’s return from other software companies or providers, and 1099 are importable too. However, the service is only available through the paid versions.
H&R Block features two different services for audits.
The first, is a product known as Worry-Free Audit Support. It can get you connected to an enrolled agent who can then guide you through an audit and help answer some questions. Please note this is not actual representation with the IRS, though.
In order to receive actual representation in the unfortunate event of an audit, customers will need to spend $19.99 for direct representation. The service will help with IRS correspondence, audit preparation, and in-person representation.
Another great protection feature H&R Block offers is Tax Identity Shield. The service helps you apply for an Identity Protection PIN, or Identity Theft Indicator. The program can help ensure that other people are not using your personal information to file a false tax return.
People can spend $14.99 for Tax Identity Shield, or save money by getting the service along with Worry-Free Audit Support for $24.99.
Tax Return Options
You went to all of the hard work of preparing your taxes and filing them, so hopefully the reward at the end is a significant refund. H&R Block has several different means to get the refund back to you:
- Direct deposit to a personal bank account
- Loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald prepaid debit card
- Mailing of a paper check
- Applying the refund to next year’s taxes
- Directing the IRS to invest U.S. Savings Bonds with the money
Like TurboTax, H&R Block also has a partnership with Amazon. So, if you decide to transfer the funds to a e-gift card, they’ll match 5 percent of the transfer.
Taxpayers are also offered the opportunity to apply the refund to what it cost to file the taxes through H&R Block. It seems a little unfair, however, that they charge an additional $40 for this option.
H&R Block has its own free option like most of the other top online tax services. The free version is actually fairly diverse.
It allows you to file a new Form 1040 along with child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and disabled or elderly credit. Schedules 1-6 can also get filed through the free version.
However, if you plan to itemize your deductions, freelance, run a small business, or have other capital gains you will end up paying money for H&R Block services.
H&R Block prices are fair compared to spending money on an actual CPA, yet higher than most other online tax products. It’s Deluxe version ($29.99) is considered ideal for homeowners, donations, and HSAs.
Meanwhile, the Premium version includes in-office drop off where you can have a tax professional do most of the preparation, or sit-in with a tax pro. The Premium service costs $59.99.
The Premium service works great for self-employed freelancers as well as SMBs because you get access to the online version while also getting to meet with a tax pro in-person.
H&R Block probably has the best customer support of any online tax software because you can also meet with a tax professional in-person.
TurboTax has comparable online support, perhaps even a little better, but has no in-person office. It’s what truly separates H&R Block from the rest of the pack.
The in-office appointments are not cheap as they start at $59, but it can help relieve stress and anxiety for taxpayers a little uncomfortable with filing completely on their own.
The Tax Pro Review service is outstanding because the enrolled agent can sift through the documents and make sure nothing is inaccurate and that all possible deductions and credits were applied. They can also sign and e-file the return for you within three days of submission.
The Tax Pro Review feature works by communicating through private messaging or via phone. The service is an extra fee and the price is based on what package you are using for your taxes.
For those that feel like they successful manage most of the documentation on their own, but might have an occasional question – the “Ask a Tax Pro” feature can get you unlimited, on-demand chat sessions with an expert.
The service features screen sharing, and is also accessible via the mobile app. The service is not 24/7, however, and is only available Monday through Friday for a good portion of the year. It also costs an extra fee.
H&R Block Tax Software Review – How does it help you file a return?
H&R Block is rock solid. The online software is easy to use and W-2 automatic uploads are really helpful. The ability to meet with a tax professional in-person is an added bonus.