Pros / You can consult with a tax preparer as you fill out your return.
Cons / It’s not the best platform for finding explanations as you fill out the return.
Verdict / H&R Block offers the most comprehensive professional support. Its tax software is excellent, though not as good at explaining the various terms as others are.
H&R Block is well known for its many locations across the country, but you can file your taxes online through its tax software. This is our choice for the best professional assistance because it has many features to help you connect with experts and get guidance as you fill out your return. If you pay for a return, you can consult with tax experts via chat. There is also an option to pay extra to have a tax pro review your return before you submit. Other programs, such as Credit Karma and Liberty Tax don't offer this service.
Like the majority of the programs we tested, there is a free filing option. H&R Block has a more useful free option than some of the others we tested. You can file 1040EZ and 1040 forms and take advantage of home mortgage interest and Earned Income Credit deductions, things that other companies would move you up a tier to take advantage of.
H&R Block’s deluxe package, which we tested, costs $34.99 and includes tools to maximize deductions and credits as well as live chat with a tax expert. It includes an automatic import of the previous year’s return as well. If you’re a freelancer or have investment income, the premium plan is recommended. This plan costs $54.99. Business owners or self-employed filers are encouraged to use the self-employed plan which costs $74.99 and includes tools for maximizing business deductions.
If you’re able to use the free filing option, your state return will also be free. All other plans charge $36.99 to file your state returns.
This tax software is among the easiest to use. One of its best features is the W-2 import, which lets you take a picture of your W-2 and upload it. This makes adding your income information painless and quick. Some of the other programs we reviewed only let you import your W-2 if your employer partners with that program. In addition to the W-2 importing feature, you can also import a previous year’s return, no matter what service you used to file it.
Navigation is easy. A menu at the top guides you through each section of your federal and state returns. Everything is clearly marked, which makes backtracking to correct any errors simple. It also uses your information to find credits and deductions that could match your financial situation.
Once you’re ready to file, the program runs a final accuracy check that scans for any errors or missed opportunities. In our test it was fairly accurate and took us directly to the section of the return that needed correcting. Other programs don’t have this same functionality.
If you want to access the expert chat feature that comes with all the paid tiers, you’ll need to navigate to the help section, search for something and click the “Get Additional Help” option. This will give you the option to chat with an expert or call one on the phone.
Once you’ve completed your return you’ll have the option to pay for audit support, which costs $19.99. With this support H&R Block will assist you in preparing for an audit, and will also attend the audit with you. Audits are rare and usually only happen on complex returns. This may be something you want to look at if you have a lot of self-reported income from a business you operate yourself.
Refunds are available via check, direct deposit or on a prepaid Emerald Card. Direct deposits will show up in your bank in about 21 days. Checks can take between six and eight weeks to arrive. The Emerald Card can be the quickest option. There are some fees with the card, a $3.00 fee for an ATM withdrawal and $4.95 inactivity fee if you go two months without using the card.
H&R Block offers a refund advance, though you’ll have to get your taxes prepared in person and have a refund amount that meets a certain threshold. If you’re approved you can get up to $3,000 on an Emerald Card.
H&R Block is best known for its many locations. It’s also a good choice for professional help when filing online. You can take advantage of tax experts or pay extra to have a professional look over your return as you file it.