H&R Block Review

What you need to know before you file

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H&R Block

H&R Block

overall rating
4.0

Our Take

H&R Block’s online tax filing software options provide a decent user experience that slightly lags behind the industry leader, TurboTax. H&R Block’s pricing is lower than TurboTax’s pricing in almost every option, meaning you could save some money using H&R Block, and it offers the ability to access tax professionals for an extra fee.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Recognizable name brand with a long history of tax preparation experience

  • Pricing mostly lower than the top tax preparation software brand

  • Relatively easy-to-use software

  • Eight software options to choose from based on your need for assistance and tax situation

  • Help options include live chat and phone support for every tier but Free Online

  • Can upgrade to Assist products to receive advice from tax professionals

  • Can import previous returns and certain tax forms

  • Guarantees basic audit support, maximum refund, and 100% accuracy

  • Support responds reasonably fast as long as you don’t wait until the last minute

  • Access to six years of past tax returns for every tier but Free Online

  • Progress bar is a good add-on

Cons
  • Pricing can be higher than less-polished competitor options

  • User experience not as seamless

  • Free and low priced packages don’t support complicated tax situations

  • Online Assist packages don’t guarantee you’ll talk to a CPA or EA

  • Setup for mobile app can take a few moments

  • Manual information inputting takes time if you don’t use import features

Key Takeaways
  • H&R Block Online can help most people file their tax return with confidence.
  • If you feel uncomfortable at any point, H&R Block offers in-person tax preparation services.
  • Completing your return is cheaper earlier in tax filing season with prices rising as the deadline nears.
  • H&R Block is straightforward about its transparent pricing models.
  • You can get advice from a tax professional, CPA, or EA by paying for Online Assist products.
Specifications
  • Year founded 1955
  • Cost Free to $194.99+
  • Product options 8
  • Phone 1-800-472-5625
  • Official website https://www.hrblock.com/

Introduction

H&R Block Deluxe Online Tax Filing package is a relatively easy, cost-effective online tax filing option for homeowners with other tax situations, deductions, or credits to take into account, such as charitable donations or Health Savings Accounts (HSA).

Pros of this option include access to the past six years’ of tax returns (for those who can’t quite seem to keep track of all their tax-related paperwork), 100% accuracy and maximum refund guarantees, and review of your taxes by a tax pro before you file for an additional fee – without ever setting foot into a tax office. While the free coffee is nice, filing taxes from the comfort of your own home wins out every time. The progress bar, complete with fun graphics, is also a nice plus.

H&R Block also offers some other tech-forward features, such as Snap-a-Pic W-2 Capture, easy input from other tax preparers, and even a running tally of your refund throughout the tax-filing process. 

The filing experience isn’t perfect, though. The user experience isn’t quite as seamless or intuitive as some of its competitors, and setting up the app can take a bit too long. If you pay for expert advice, you aren’t guaranteed to talk to a certified professional such as an enrolled agent (EA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Read on for a rundown of H&R Block’s online tax-filing options, what is included in each, and their prices, as well as an honest review of the software’s ease of use, its features, and how their support stacks up.

We've reviewed H&R Block Deluxe Online Tax Filing, which costs $49.99 (plus $44.99 per state filed) and is ideal for homeowners who have made charitable donations and have an HSA, but user experience may vary based on which version you choose.

You can check out our other picks for the best tax software programs to use before you file.

Note: H&R Block may offer discounts on their tax software early during tax season. That said, the cost tends to rise as the tax deadline nears. We listed the full price of the software to be conservative, but you should check their website to see if they’re currently offering lower prices.

Pricing/Packages

Here’s a quick summary of the packages and pricing H&R Block offers, followed by a detailed explanation of their options.

Package Level Online Pricing Online Assist Pricing Features
Free Online Free Called Basic Online Assist - $39.99 + $0 per state filing  - Price preview

- Import previous year’s return from other preparers

- W-2 picture input

- Earned income tax credit, student tuition, and student loan interest supported

- Report retirement income

- Support through the help center
Deluxe Online $49.99 + $36.99 per state filing $109.99 + $36.99 per state filing Features from previous tier plus:

- Organize tax documents for six years

- Import last year’s H&R Block return

- Technical support by phone or chat

- Real estate taxes and home mortgage interest deductions supported

- Charitable contributions optimized with DeductionPro

- Organize freelance, gig work, contract work, and other self-employment income
Premium Online $69.99 + $36.99 per state filing $159.99 + $36.99 per state filing Features from previous tier plus:

- Investment income support

- Rental property income and deduction support

- Qualified business income deduction support
Self-Employed Online $109.99 + $36.99 per state filing $194.99 + $36.99 per state filing Features from previous tier plus:

- Import expenses from Stride

- Import Uber driver tax information

- Claim small business expenses

- Report all business deductions, including depreciation

H&R Block offers four tiers of online tax-filing packages across two product lines for online-based software. The first product line, Online, is do-it-yourself. The second product line, Online Assist, offers the same software with on-demand help from a tax expert, EA, or CPA.  

Free Online: As the name suggests, this is H&R Block’s free online filing tool. It includes features such as snapping a pic of your W-2 and easy import, and of course, the cost is a boon ($0 to file and $0 per state filed.) This option is best for renters, and those with tax situations such as the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, tuition, student loan interest, unemployment income, or social security income.

Support for this option is a bit sparse. You can only get self-help via the software’s help center; live technical support via chat or phone isn’t available with this package.

Basic Online Assist: This package is the same as the Free Online software but with help from a tax expert via chat, screen share, or phone. It costs $69.99 but state filings are still free.

Deluxe Online: At $49.99, plus $44.99 per state filed, this is H&R Block’s most cost-effective, perk-heavy option. You’ll receive all the features of the free option, plus six years’ access to tax returns, technical support via chat or phone (plus access to the help center), and the use of H&R Block’s signature DeductionPro tool, which promises to optimize charitable donations. This option is ideal for homeowners, those who have an HSA, or anyone dealing with real estate taxes or mortgage interest. It also allows you to organize contract, freelance, gig work, and other self-employed income.

Deluxe Online Assist: This product’s features mimic the Deluxe Online software. It adds help from a tax expert via chat, screen share, or phone when you need it. It costs $109.99 with a $36.99 charge per state return filed.

Premium Online: Ideal for people with investment income, rental properties, or simple gig or freelance economy worker situations, the premium option includes all the features as the Deluxe. It adds support for investment income, rental properties, the qualified business income deduction (QBID), and the ability to import business expenses from certain apps. This package costs $69.99 plus $44.99 per state filed.

Premium Online Assist: Premium Online Assists offers the same features as the Premium Online software. The extra cost pays for help from a tax expert via chat, screen share, or phone. You’ll pay $159.99 plus $36.99 per state return filed.

Self-Employed Online: The most expensive online tax filing option from H&R Block, this package will set you back $104.99, plus $44.99 per state filed. It’s meant for the self-employed with more complex situations, i.e. those with small business income, small business expenses, and home office or vehicle expenses. While you’ll get all the features of the premium package, you also get the ability to import expenses from Stride, Uber driver tax information, and the ability to claim all small business expenses including asset depreciation. 

Self-Employed Online Assist: This version gives the same software experience as Self-Employed Online. It adds help from a tax expert via chat, screen share, or phone. You’ll pay $194.99 plus $36.99 per state return filed.

Features

All of H&R Block’s online filing options will earn you access to tools such as Snap-a-Pic W-2 Capture, easy import from other tax preparers, and a running tally of your refund. Other notable features include data security and access to help center articles. If you opt for the Online Assist tier of packages, you can get help from a tax pro before you file.

If you’re an avid Amazon online shopper, you might want to take advantage of the option to have H&R Block add all or some of your refund to an Amazon gift card. You’ll then be gifted an additional 3.5% of your return by Amazon as a thank you. 

The Deluxe Online and higher-priced packages also offer some great perks once you begin the filing process. For example, you can access live support by phone or chat and access your tax documents in one spot for up to six years.

Ease of Use/Design

While H&R Block’s user experience may feel clunkier than some of its competitors, it’s still relatively seamless. There are also some bits of personalization sprinkled in, such as the progress bar which shows you which section of your tax return you’re working on. It’s also nice because it helps lessen the stress associated with filing taxes.

Another perk of H&R Block as a tax filing option? If you’re not quite sure of your selection, many options have clickable questions/qualifiers, so you can ensure that you are selecting the most accurate representation of your tax situation.

During testing, we zipped through the information inputting step via desktop, then sailed through the federal and state sections. Before we knew it, we were filing our taxes.

Customer Support Options

H&R Block offers multiple layers of support depending on the package you choose. All levels come with access to expert articles in the help center, which offers a plethora of information and commonly-asked questions about W-2s, for example. 

Paid levels, including Deluxe Online and above, include technical support by chat or phone. This support isn’t necessarily designed to give you tax advice. Instead, it helps you answer questions about how the software works and how to get it to do what you want. 

The live chat has been updated from their outdated version to a slick modern chat window. The response time was only a few minutes, but we admittedly tested this in December 2020 before people usually start filing their taxes and chances are H&R Block didn’t have a full staff yet. Additionally, the chat agent was not a CPA. We weren’t using the Assist version of the software, though, so this was expected. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because the chat representative was able to help answer our general tax question about the filing process. 

If you decide to pay for an Online Assist level of the software, you can ask a tax professional questions about your return and how to optimize it. This level also unlocks screen-share options, making it easier to figure out exactly what went wrong and how to fix it. Even so, the Assist version does not promise a CPA or EA, only a tax professional. 

And if you get audited, H&R Block offers a Peace of Mind extended service plan, which includes audit representation for the life of the tax return. With Peace of Mind, you’ll also get reimbursed up to $6,000 of additional taxes owed if H&R Block makes a mistake when filing your taxes. This costs money, unlike the free audit support guarantee. However, the Peace of Mind service plan provides much more help and hands-on assistance than the free audit support guarantee.

Warning


While the Peace of Mind guarantee offers up to $6,000 in additional taxes owed due to mistakes, it is only mistakes made by H&R Block. If you forget to input something into the return, that isn’t a mistake made by H&R Block and wouldn’t be covered.

Online Version/Mobile App

Once you get past the headache of creating an account (coming up with a username and workable password can take a few minutes) H&R Block’s mobile app is surprisingly good. There are interactive cue cards, a progress bar at the top of the display (similar to the desktop version), and the touch ID for ease of login is also a nice feature. 

Much like the online version, the app guides you through the steps of inputting your information, then completing your federal and state taxes before finally, you file. You can also upload a photo of your W-2 or input your employer’s tax code and have the app pull the information for you. 

The H&R Block Tax Prep app is compatible with iOS and Android.

Competition

You have many options if you want to file your taxes online. Here’s how H&R Block stacks up to its competitors.

H&R Block vs. TurboTax

One major competitor of H&R Block is TurboTax. TurboTax helps all sorts of people file their tax returns, just like H&R Block. Prices are fairly comparable between the companies, at least for the versions reviewed by The Balance, but TurboTax is priced slightly higher on seven of the eight products H&R Block offers.

H&R Block’s Free Online version provides more potential tax credits and deductions than TurboTax’s offering does. TurboTax’s higher price tier for live support provides access to a CPA or EA guaranteed, while H&R Block only says you’ll get help from a tax professional.

If you want to save a few bucks, H&R Block’s software should work just fine for most people. People who qualify for the free version of H&R Block but would have to pay with TurboTax will likely prefer H&R Block’s Free Online offering, too.

H&R Block vs. TaxAct

Another H&R Block competitor is TaxAct. TaxAct is generally a much less expensive option with a price-lock guarantee. Using TaxAct can save the self-employed filers a decent amount. 

TaxAct doesn’t offer a version of its software with live support from tax professionals. People who want this feature should stick with H&R Block or TurboTax. It does offer free account and technical support, though. 

It’s also important to note that TaxAct’s software isn’t as user-friendly as H&R Block, but it gets the job done if you’re price-conscious. 

Who H&R Block Is Good For

H&R Block is a solid choice for people who want to save money while still using great tax preparation software. In particular, people that qualify for the Free Online version with H&R Block who have student loan interest, tuition and fees, or unemployment income would benefit since other providers may charge you to file your return with these tax items. Otherwise, H&R Block’s software prepares your tax return accurately for a little bit less than TurboTax would cost in most cases.


If you don’t care if your tax professional is a CPA or EA, H&R Block’s Online Assist options are cheaper than TurboTax’s Live help packages, too. H&R Block has a long history of providing software to prepare tax returns, so you’re in good hands.

Who Isn’t a Good Fit for H&R Block

If you’re looking to get the cheapest tax preparation software you can find, H&R Block isn’t your best choice. You’ll likely give up a smooth interface and support options with cheaper competitors, but you will save money.

Those looking for advice from a CPA or EA may get lucky with H&R Block’s Online Assist options, but help from a CPA or EA isn’t guaranteed. H&R Block says some of the help may come from tax professionals, which means they don’t have a designation. However, TurboTax’s Live products only use CPAs and EAs so if that’s important to you, you might want to choose that service over H&R Block. 

Final Verdict

Filing taxes with H&R Block was straightforward and manageable, even for beginners. The easy-click buttons, informative live links, and the simplified progress bar streamline the process, and having the ability to ask questions through the live chat or find additional information was useful. The written content on the site was also just clever enough without being too much.

Overall, this is a solid option for homeowners or those with slightly more complicated tax situations who still prefer to do most things online. You get a slightly lower price than the most well-known online tax preparation option while still getting a good user experience.