• Supports all the major forms and schedules
• Great online and in-person customer service
• Audit support
• Very easy to use
• Online help and support articles are sometimes confusing
H&R Block gets a lot of things right with its tax preparation service, from free in-person help included in the cost of the online filing, to a simple interface for completing your return, and plenty of insight into the tax process to help you get the best returns.
H&R Block is one of most well-known out of all the tax prep companies in the States. This long-established firm is best known and appreciated for its franchise offices located across the country, yet it also delivers a robust and easy to use online tax return solution for e-filing.
There are four different tax products to choose from in the H&R Block set. The first Free version is for simple tax returns and includes free federal filing – state filings cost extra. Basic costs $24.99 for federal filing, and includes free technical support, free import of last year's tax data, and free storage of tax return data. If you are a homeowner, or have retirement or investment income, you’ll benefit from the Deluxe version at $34.99. For self-employment there is the Premium version at $49.99.
H&R Block has a couple of apps linked to the online products - MyBlock is an organizational tool designed to help you sort out all the information you need for your tax return, and Tax Preparation is the mobile version of the main product. It allows you to scan and import data from your W-2.
H&R Block provides the usual robust web browsing encryption technology as well as a set of authentication tasks you need to complete when you log in, to prevent unauthorized access. Bank-level encryption technology is in place to keep sensitive information out of the public eye.
H&R Block focuses mainly on the extra in-person support you can get when you use the product, and there is little in the way of extra features.
Audit – However, H&R Block does go one step further and provides free in-person audit support if you are investigated.
Health care focus – A calculator and information about the Affordable Care Act help you work out how health insurance affects your taxes.
Import – Import previous years’ tax data for free with H&R Block (through the paid versions of the software, and not the free version). You can also store your tax return for up to six years so you can look at the data any time you want.
Ease of Use
The software is pretty easy to use when you sign up with H&R Block. It also seems to produce fairly fast returns with not a lot of excessive detail to wade through. Jargon is cut to a minimum and the interface is clear and uncluttered. The guided interface works you through, with simple navigation, all the issues you need to consider that affect your tax situation. It’s in a logical order so you don’t feel lost at any point, and all the directions are clearly marked.
If any errors come up the software alerts you right away and you can fix them there and then, without any confusion caused by having to backtrack once you reach the conclusion of the forms. This process is not ideal for people who like to skip around and complete sections in different orders, but it works for complete beginners and those that don’t want to miss anything out.
Help & Support
If you require your help and support to come in real-life, human form H&R Block is the only tax software to offer free in-person assistance at any of its over 11,000 office branches country-wide. So long as you have purchased a version of the software or online package, you can meet a tax expert to resolve any problems you may be having. Or you can call the hotline to get answers and support.
Help guides inside the software itself provide a wealth of resources but you have to search carefully sometimes through a lot of different options before you find the information you need. There is a useful list of popular questions on the website. There’s no forum, which may be a drawback for some, and there’s no live chat – this would also be a good addition to the collection of support resources.
While lacking the friendly tone of TurboTax, H&R Block is still conversational enough to provide a non-intimidating way to complete your tax return. H&R Block also has the added benefit of real-life support from tax experts at its branch offices, should you need to sort out tax problems face-to-face.
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