H&R Block At-Home Tax Preparation Software Review
With its easy-to-use interface, H&R Block's At Home software is ideal for preparing simple tax returns. H&R Block, the makers of At Home, has done a good job of making data entry screens easy to read, and extra help is available through "Guide Me" interview-style questions.
H&R Block's audit support 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.
H&R Block At Home Is Best for Wage-Earners
At Home's clean interface and short interview questions are all aimed at helping speed things along. At Home has the ability to import W-2 data from participating firms. At Home can also import investment income and capital gains details directly from participating financial institutions.
Self-employed taxpayers will appreciate At Home's business assets and depreciation interview, which nicely handles deductions for business equipment.
H&R Block's At Home software lacks some functionality for optimizing self-employed tax returns.
At Home will not assist in calculating a SEP-IRA or solo 401(k), both of which are popular retirement savings plans for the self-employed. At Home also 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 At Home could have made those features much more useful.
H&R Block At Home 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 At Home 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 of At Home are common questions relevant to the current data entry screen. On the input page for the sale of stocks, for example, At Home 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 in At Home are written by the H&R Block staff.
At Home 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.
At Home also provides an "Ask a Tax Advisor" function for contacting an H&R Block tax advisor for an additional fee of $19.95. (One free question is included in the Premium version, and unlimited questions are included with the Best of Both version.)
If you get stuck on your tax return, you can have your data routed to an H&R Block employee who will personally review your data and finish preparing the return. H&R Block calls this product the "Best of Both."
At Home Product Versions
H&R Block's At Home software is offered in Basic, Deluxe, Premium and Premium & Business versions. Differences among the product versions include import tools, extra help and guidance, and access to an H&R Block employee.
H&R Block also offers a Premium & Business edition that includes At Home Premium plus software to prepare business, payroll, partnership and estate tax returns. The At Home Premium & Business is a more comprehensive software bundle than the similarly named TurboTax Home & Business which covers only sole proprietors who file a Schedule C.
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 (Windows and Mac).
- 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 (Windows and Mac).
- 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 (Windows and Mac).
- 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 (Windows only).
More H&R Block At Home Resources
From About Financial Software:
- Tour of H&R Block At Home Software with screenshots.
- At Home Review.
- Compare Different Versions and Features of H&R Block At Home.
- Compare H&R Block's At Home versus Intuit's TurboTax.
Note: The author accessed H&R Block At Home software on the Web using the try-before-you-buy guess access. The author did not test H&R Block's e-filing service.