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- The Good
- Refund and accuracy guarantees
- Best for self-employed
- Second Look review
- Advance on tax refund
- The Bad
- Higher prices
- No free audit protection
H&R Block has been stepping up its game in recent years, rolling out great features like its Second Look review, its multiple guarantees and, most recently, its IBM Watson-powered tax preparation. This, combined with its physical offices nationwide that allow you to talk in person with a tax specialist, make H&R Block one of the top picks for tax preparation.
- Easy Filing
- Deluxe package
- Premium package
- State package
- $29.99 to $39.99
H&R Block has a more streamlined pricing system than its main competitor, TurboTax. First, you can file your federal taxes for free, even if you have a lot of deductions, including dependents. If you own a home or are a freelancer/contractor, you can use H&R Block’s Deluxe package at $54.99. If you have investments, own rental properties or run your own business you can use the Premier package at $79.99, which is cheaper than TurboTax’s Self-Employed Package, which is $114.99. For state taxes, TurboTax charges $29.99 per state to file with a free federal return, or $39.99 to file with any of its paid packages.
- Tax Prep Features
- Import previous return and W-2
- Online, software and office options
- In-house tax preparers
- Interview-style preparation
- In-line explanation of taxes and refunds
- Second Look Review
- IBM’s Watson powered tax prep
- Direct deposit or prepaid card for refunds
- Advance on tax refund
H&R Block has kept up with the changing technologies when it comes to online tax preparation, and its new online tools show it. It has a similar interview-style preparation tool to TurboTax that asks you questions that help prepare your taxes, as opposed to make you fill in boring forms. Its Second Look review gives you the opportunity to check previous years tax filings to see if you received the maximum refund. If not, H&R Block will help you file for a full refund. The most recent feature addition is the IBM’s Watson-powered tax preparation that combines a super computer full of tax regulations with a live person to give you the most accurate tax return possible.
Refunds: It’s important to point out that H&R Block will allow you to take up to a $1,250 advance on your refund, which is a great feature and H&R Block is one of the only tax services to offer it.
- Audit Protection
- Yes, for a price
H&R Block’s audit protection works similarly to other large online tax preparation services, except you have to pay $30 for it. The Peace of Mind service will go over audit letters with you, give you advice, and review your taxes with you along with an explanation of the math and how the taxes were done. If you want (or need) representation in front of the IRS, H&R Block offers that as well with the Peace of Mind plan. Keep in mind that representatives cannot defend any inaccurate information you may have provided.
- Phone support
- In-person preparation
- Community forum
- Video tutorials
Unlike TurboTax, H&R Block’s phone support comes with all plans, including the Free Federal plan. The other plus for H&R Block is that it has actual offices where you can go talk to a tax expert if you need help. In addition, the website has a great collections of FAQs, forums and tutorials to help.
H&R Block: User Reviews
H&R Block is pretty much a no-brainer for anyone looking for superior tax prep service without having the hire an actually account. With its slew of features, tools and extras, it makes doing your taxes really easy and efficient, and will make sure you get the most from your refund or find ways to cut down on your tax bill.
How Does H&R Block Work
H&R block works exactly how you would expect it to. You start the tax process for free, where you can import your W2 with the click of your phone’s camera. H&R Block can also import all your tax information from the previous year’s return. Once that is all set, you will be asked a series of questions about your life, your finances and your family to make sure you are taking the proper deductions and credits.
H&R Block will keep a running tally of how much your refund will be and how you much you will owe based on the answers to the questions. Once you finish, it will calculate how much you’ll get or owe, and let you know which package you will have to buy, based on your return. It will also give you the option to transfer the same information to you state filings. Once that is all completed, you can pay for the services and H&R Block will file your taxes.
If you have any questions during the tax prep period, you can reach out to H&R Block through phone support, or go to one of its local offices and set up a time with a tax professional to go over your taxes in person.
What Makes H&R Block Stand Out
One thing that makes H&R Block stand out the most is its slew of guarantees. First, it offers a Maximum Refund Guarantee, which will refund the fees you paid to H&R Block if you find a different preparation method that would give you a larger guarantee. H&R Block will also let you change your tax filing for free to get the larger refund. The only stipulation is it has to include the exact same information you gave to H&R Block.
The second guarantee the 100% Accuracy Guarantee, which will pay for any penalties you receive from the IRS for miscalculations made by H&R Block, up to $10,000. The last guarantee is an Audit Support Guarantee, which provides you with a walk-through on how to deal with an audit. If you aren’t satisfied with the walk-through, H&R Block will refund what you paid for its services.
Recently, H&R Block also offered tax preparation by IBM’s Watson, the super-computer that went to head to head with a Jeopardy champion. It is only available for in-office tax preparation, but it combines the power of a super-computer with the knowledge of a tax representative to make sure you are getting the maximum refund, or the owe the least amount.
In addition, H&R Block also has the Second Look Review, which will do a deep dig into your previous year’s tax return to see if you could have received a higher refund. If so, H&R Block will file the paperwork to get you the money you are owed.
The best feature that H&R Block offers is the advance on your refund. If you have done your taxes and H&R Block knows you are getting a refund, you can get up to $1,250 in an advance on your refund, which is great for anyone who is waiting on a refund to pay some bills.
Common H&R Block Reviews
With its slew of features and tools, H&R Block usually gets stellar reviews from professional consumer product review sites, generally landing 4/5 out of 5 stars. Reviewers are especially impressed with the Second Look review and the guarantees that H&R Block offers.
Customer reviews are actually mixed, mostly because most online user review forums don’t separate the online product from the in-person product. The in-person product tends to get negative reviews because human interaction and human error play more of a role. Since the online service is automated, it tends to get higher reviews from users.
Is H&R Block Right For You?
This is a pretty simple question, since H&R Block offers so many great features and options for you to choose from. The question really is whether you are willing to pay for H&R Block’s services. If you don’t mind spending a little extra (although the prices are inline with what TurboTax charges), H&R Block’s features, tools and support are a great fit for anyone who is looking to get the most out of their taxes.