H&R Block's Free File Tax Software
Free File is an IRS program that gives taxpayers free access to tax preparation software or at a discount. Free File is fast, safe, and is a convenient way to complete a simple federal tax return online.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in November 2018 that it had reached an agreement with the Free File Alliance to continue the Free File initiative in 2019 and to improve the service. The Free File Alliance is a nonprofit group of industry-leading tax software companies who partner with the IRS to help taxpayers prepare and e-file their federal tax returns for free. Free File Alliance partners who offer their tax software for free are 1040NOW Corp, Drake Enterprises, ezTaxReturn.com, FileYourTaxes, Free Tax Returns, H&R Block, Intuit, Liberty Tax, OnLine Taxes, TaxACT, TaxHawk, and TaxSlayer.
Who Qualifies for Free File?
Individuals qualify for the software if they earn less than $66,000 and are between the ages of 17-51 (as of 12/31/2018), were active for military duty military, or they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
H&R Block's free tax software, formerly called More Zero, allows users to easily import data and can be integrated with popular business apps (including Uber). It also offers 24/7 tech support via chat. Unfortunately, H&R Block stopped offering free state filing on March 31, 2017.
To use Free File, users must visit the IRS.gov/FreeFile website and select the best partner match for their circumstances. The user then clicks on "Leave IRS website" and will be directed to the partner's website. The user should ensure that they have the documents they need at the ready such as a copy of their last year's tax return (1040) and income and deductions documentation (W2 and receipts).
H&R Block Navigation
H&R Block uses a semi-guided navigation system. The user selects options at the beginning and the software guides the user through the process using a sequence of questions and answers and by asking the user to import forms at appropriate times.
The user can review each section as he or she progresses and can go back to sections that the software might miss. A user might import a W-2, for example, complete self-employment income, enter rental income using the guided session but then realize that they did not import a 1099-INT.
W-2 forms (via picture or pdf), 1099-INT, and 1099-DIV forms from many financial institutions can be imported into the software. For small business filers who already use H&R Block, a new integrated app (the Stride app) can track mileage, expenses, and receipts throughout the year.
The software provides short and longer articles that guide the user in tax preparation and provide additional information. An easy-to-use search function can locate whatever subject the user might need to research. There is also a Tax Reform Center located on the top navigation bar that explains the new tax laws that came into effect for the 2018 tax year. There is also technical support available using a chat function.
Who Should Use H&R Block's Free File Software?
The Free Online Tax Filing option is a good option for people with simple tax returns. H&R Block is one of the few free software services for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Care Tax credit, Mortgage Interest, traditional IRA contributions, student loan interest, and charitable giving.