H&R Block At-Home Tax Preparation Software Review
With its easy-to-use interface, H&R Block's software is ideal for preparing simple tax returns. H&R Block has done a good job of making data entry screens easy to read, and extra help is available through interview-style questions.
H&R Block's audit support is included in the price of the software, which means an H&R Block employee will personally help you defend your return in an IRS audit. Here are some other features and factors to consider when comparing H&R Block software to other tax filing software that's available.
H&R Block Is Best for Wage-Earners
The software's clean interface and short interview questions are all aimed at helping speed things along. You can import W-2 data from participating firms, as well as investment income and capital gains details directly from participating financial institutions.
Self-employed and business-owning taxpayers will appreciate the ability to assess business assets, calculate depreciation, and handle deductions for business equipment.
There are several tiers of software available to customers. H&R Block's basic software lacks some functionality for optimizing more complex tax returns, such as those of self-employed individuals. If you have a complicated tax situation, you'll want to choose one of the higher-tier software options, such as the Premium or Premium & Business options.
The software will not assist in calculating a SEP-IRA or solo 401(k), both of which are popular retirement savings plans for the self-employed. Also, it will not calculate how much estimated tax payments should be for the current year. These are all fairly common issues that self-people face, and those features could make the software much more useful.
H&R Block has a clean, two-tier navigation system along the top of the screen. But navigating to individual data entry screens feels a bit cumbersome. Clicking on "federal," for example, prompts H&R Block to ask whether you want to continue where you left off, go to the first page of the interview, or review what you've entered so far. To drill down to specific sections relating to the federal return, click on the "Take Me To" link, which presents a table of contents for various sections.
Users still need to click through the screens in that particular section to access the particular area they're looking for. There's no quick way to navigate back or forward to a specific data entry screen.
Help Questions on Each Page
H&R Block has aimed to make tax and program help easier to access. On the right-hand side are common questions relevant to the current data entry screen. On the input page for the sale of stocks, for example, the software displays questions covering where to report sales of assets when a Form 1099-B hasn't been received, how much of a stock loss can be deducted, and how to enter data from a consolidated brokerage statement. Unlike TurboTax, which uses a community model to answer questions, the answers here are written by the H&R Block staff.
H&R Block also features a "Guide Me" set of interview questions. On the filing status page, for example, you can either select your filing status directly or you can click on the "Guide Me" button to be led through a series of questions that will help determine the best filing status for you.
For an extra $39.99, you can have unlimited access to on-demand help from an H&R Block tax professional.
H&R Block Product Versions
H&R Block's software is offered in Basic, Deluxe, Premium, and Premium & Business versions. Differences among the product versions largely deal with the types of tax situations that can be handled by the software.
The prices for H&R Block's software are as follows:
- Basic: $29.95 (includes federal software and e-file) + $39.95 per state tax software module + $19.95 state e-file.
- Deluxe: $54.95 (includes federal and one state software) + $19.95 for state e-file. An additional state return costs an extra $39.95 each.
- Premium: $74.95 (includes federal and one state software) + $19.95 for state e-file. An additional state return costs an extra $36.95 each.
- Premium & Business: $89.95 (includes federal and one state software) + $19.95 for state e-file. An additional state return costs an extra $36.95 each.