It’s no wonder H&R Block is a leader in tax software
Taxes can be overwhelming and confusing, even for the well-versed. H&R Block simplifies the process without dumbing it down.
Each step provides clear instructions and comprehensive explanations of tax concepts and forms. The interface is easy to navigate and you can save your progress at any point and return to the same page later. I’m a financial planner, and I’ve used H&R Block for multiple years. I’ve never been disappointed.
Who Should Use H&R Block?
If you’re doing your own taxes this year and, like me, willing to pay for convenience, you’ll find an option that suits your needs at H&R Block. Anyone who hasn’t filed taxes solo before or recently experienced significant life changes would benefit from the guidance H&R Block provides.
For instance, my situation last year was pretty simple — I have W-2 income, a health savings account, and interest income from a high-yield savings account. I don’t own a home, have any dependents, or invest outside of my retirement accounts. I use the Deluxe Online package to prepare and file both my federal and state returns (more on the specs of this option below).
The tax form import and upload capabilities are a big time saver, but if you’re OK with entering the numbers on your own and want to save some money, there are cheaper (or free) options out there.
You might like filing with H&R Block if you:
- Are a student looking for a free filing option
- Want step-by-step guidance and clear explanations of tax concepts
- Want the ability to upgrade for access to a tax professional in-person or online
- Appreciate a clean and modern digital interface
You might not like filing with H&R Block if you:
- Are looking for the lowest-cost option
- Already track business expenses in QuickBooks, a TurboTax partner
How Much Does H&R Block Cost?
The cost of filing with H&R Block is less than TurboTax, but more than TaxSlayer, TaxAct, or Credit Karma.
H&R Block offers four main ways to prepare and file taxes: do-it-yourself online packages, the option to add Online Assist (i.e. extra help from an expert), full service from a tax preparer, and downloadable computer software.
Each of these categories offers different price points, which are determined by which tax forms you need. With all versions except the computer software, you can prepare your return for free — you only pay when it’s time to file.
Cost of DIY options and what they cover …
- Free Online: $0. Supports W-2 income, unemployment income, interest and dividend income, retirement distributions, the student loan interest deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit (EITC). You can’t itemize deductions, but that’s typical of a free version. Notably, H&R Block’s free version includes student deductions, while TurboTax’s does not.
- Deluxe Online: $49.99. Everything the free version includes, plus the mortgage interest deduction and health savings accounts, and you can itemize.
- Premium Online: $69.99. Supports everything in the Deluxe version, plus rental property income and freelance/contractor income below $5,000. You can also import mileage and other expenses from common tracking apps.
- Self-Employed Online: $109.99. The highest-tier online package offered by H&R Block. It’s ideal for self-employed people, including small business owners, partners, and contractors who earned more than $5,000.
Extra fees will apply if …
- You need state filing. If you live in one of the majority of states that require you to do state income taxes as well, you’ll have to pay an additional $36.99 per state. If you lived or worked in more than one state, you may have to pay for multiple state returns.
- You upgrade to Online Assist. Nearly identical to the online filing options mentioned above, but you can chat instantly and share your screen with a tax expert. The all-in cost is between $69.99 and $194.99 for a federal return.
- You upgrade to full-service preparation: Hand off your tax documents to a professional, either in a physical office or virtually, who will prepare and file your return. These services start at $69.99 for a federal return.
- You pay H&R Block from your refund. If you’re expecting a tax refund, H&R Block will ask if you want to use part of it to pay for its tax prep services. It sounds more convenient than pulling out a debit or credit card on the spot, but beware: a $39 processing fee applies.
DIY tax options for expats
Last tax season, H&R Block debuted a package designed specifically for US citizens living abroad.
A federal return covering simple employment income costs $99, and a federal return covering investment and self-employment income runs $149. State returns are an additional $99 each. Reporting of non-US bank and financial accounts is an extra $49.
There’s also an option to file with a tax advisor, starting at $199 per federal return.
How Does H&R Block Work?
H&R Block may be most recognized for its offices scattered throughout the US, but the company offers online filing and downloadable computer software, too. If you choose an online package, you can work on your taxes with the mobile app for Android and iOS devices.
H&R Block caters to the vast majority of tax filers with a modern and easy-to-navigate interface. Like other tax-preparation services, the platform walks users through a series of questions about their household, income, and opportunities for deductions and credits.
In addition to answering these questions, you’ll need to add information from your employer, other income sources, and 1099, 1098, W-2, and other tax forms that may show up in your mailbox or inbox.
If you’re concerned about making mistakes, missing deductions, or getting lost amidst the tax forms, H&R Block can connect you with a professional in its network for an additional fee.
What Do You Get With H&R Block?
- Easy tax form import and upload. This is one of H&R Block’s best time-saving features. In a matter of seconds, you can upload a PDF version of your tax form or import it from your employer, bank, or investment company.
- Mobile version. Work on your taxes on the mobile or web versions, or switch back and forth.
- Step-by-step guidance. This is something H&R Block excels at. Any time you’re required to answer a question or provide a number, one click will populate a side-bar with a helpful explainer that breaks down, in layman’s terms, what it means.
- Option to upgrade for live support. Pay extra and you can consult a tax expert, or hand off your documents to a professional to prep everything for you.
- Multiple refund options. You can get your federal refund deposited into your bank account, sent as a check, or loaded onto a prepaid debit card. You can also use your refund to buy an Amazon gift card in increments of $100 and H&R Block will add on a 3.5% bonus. This is probably only worth doing if you have a large refund, otherwise the bonus is negligible.
- Tax return storage. H&R Block will store your finished tax returns in your account for up to six years.
- Accuracy guarantee. H&R Block will pay IRS penalties and fees related to calculation errors up to $10,000. If it’s determined that you entered information improperly, the guarantee does not apply.
Is H&R Block safe and reliable?
H&R Block keeps your information secure with data encryption. It also requires multi-factor authentication every time you log in to verify your identity.
If you follow the directions provided and enter the numbers on your income forms correctly, you should end up with accurate taxes just as if you went to a more expensive professional tax preparer.
It’s worth noting, however, that H&R Block (along with TurboTax) used deliberately misleading tactics in the past to get unsuspecting taxpayers to pay for upgrades when they didn’t need to, according to a 2019 ProPublica investigation. H&R Block’s free file options are clearly advertised as of this writing, but it’s a good reminder to stay vigilant.
Are There Any Downsides To Using H&R Block?
The interface and customer support features work seamlessly in my experience, but if you’re looking for a low-cost way to file taxes, H&R Block isn’t it.
Unless you qualify for the free package, you’ll pay at least $49.99 (not including any discounts) plus an additional $36.99 per state return.