H&R Block is a leading brand in tax return preparation that offers extra help via 80,000 tax experts and 12,000 physical offices, making it one of the best tax software solutions right now.
H&R Block as a company has been around in one form or another since the mid 1950s. It has grown from a small bookkeeping business in Kansas to one of the country’s best known and most popular tax preparation companies, and, unusually for this type of company, (compared to say, TurboTax or TaxAct), it has some 12,000 physical offices across the United States. In 2019, the company reported having prepared some 23 million tax returns in the United States.
H&R Block has a couple of major selling points. Firstly, the long company history and size of its network means that they can draw on a vast pool of expertise, having some 80,000 tax experts available to help clients. Also, their products come with help options that can include one of these experts overseeing and checking the user’s tax return.
The range of products offered by H&R Block stands up well in what can be a crowded marketplace for tax return software. Its free version (for very basic tax returns) is one of the best on the market and all the editions benefit from a robust functionality. As the user’s tax return becomes more complicated, via rental property and investments for instance, the editions become slightly more expensive but are still worth paying for as they streamline the process and have lots of handy automatic functions to make preparing the return both efficient and as advantageous to the user as possible.
H&R Block review: Cost
Handles all state and federal tax returns
Live, on-screen human help
12,000 physical locations to back up the online service
Handles all state and federal tax returns
Suitable for use in all 50 states
- Fairly competitively priced in comparison
- Optional access to a tax expert
- Suitable for the self employed and small businesses
H&R Block products range from free (for very simple tax returns) through to $105 for the most advanced version for self-employed users.
The prices for H&R Block software (excluding the free version) are fairly competitive and have optional add-ons such as a sliding supplemental charge for access to one of the company’s tax experts, called Tax Pro. The free version allows users to file a 1040 and Schedules 1-6 and does not incur a cost for Federal taxes. State taxes are $29.99 extra and the Tax Pro service is an additional $49.99. The Deluxe edition can handle slightly more demanding returns and runs at $49.99 for Federal taxes, $39.99 for State and $79.99 for the Tax Pro service. The Premium edition is suitable for people operating rental properties or who have investments and runs at $69.99 for Federal, $39.99 for State and $89.99 for Tax Pro. Finally, the Self Employed version (also suitable for small businesses) starts at $104.99 for Federal, $39.99 for State and $89.99 for the Tax Pro review.
H&R Block review: Products
- Free editions - for simple returns
- Deluxe edition - for home owners
- Premium edition - for investment accounts and rental properties
- Self Employed edition - can handle payrolls and small business needs
H&R Block’s free edition works perfectly well for simple tax returns, and includes some features that are becoming industry standard, such as the ability to just take a photo of your W-2 with your phone and then upload it to the software instead of filling in dozens of small boxes.
The Deluxe Edition is the most popular seller. It brings users many more features, and is set up to handle more complex situations, specifically those which come with home ownership. Real Estate taxes and Capital Gains taxes are all built in, and its functionality will be a boon for most tax payers.
The Premium edition, as already stated, is suited to those users who might be operating rental properties, or who have a range of other investments. This edition can also probably handle the demands of people who are self employed as sole traders - once a user becomes a small business with employees, then the next edition is up probably a better fit.
Finally, the Self Employed version is perfect for LLC returns and anyone who operates a payroll. There are two features across the paid versions of the software that have been recently included in order for H&R Block to be more competitive against its main rivals. The first service is called ‘Ask A Tax Pro’, which is an add-on that lets users have unlimited, on-demand online chats with one of the company’s tax experts. Hours of operation for on-demand chat are 8am - midnight Eastern time Monday through Friday and 9am to 8pm Eastern on weekends during tax season.
H&R Block: Usability / User reviews
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
- Tools for importing forms and paperwork
- A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
The interface that is used across all of the H&R Block products is unfussy, intuitive and relatively easy to use. The software is stored online, so users can use any number of devices to access their tax return. The entire process is clear and users can see where they are within the process thanks to the clear banner delineating sections such as income, deductions, credits, etc. There are very handy tools such as importing for some of the basic forms including W-2 paperwork. If a user didn’t pay for the online help with H&R Block tax experts, some help is included and some of the less common terms are hyperlinks, allowing users to click through for more information. This function isn’t quite as robust as that of, say, TurboTax, but it’s better than nothing. Navigation is straightforward and the various sections are clearly marked. The program runs a final accuracy check before the return is filed, highlighting sections that may have been missed out unintentionally. H&R Block has been accredited to the Better Business Bureau since 2010 and they have a top level, A+ rating with the organization.
Should you choose H&R Block?
H&R Block has a long history in the tax industry and the quality of their products means that they are deservedly one of the most popular choices for tax return preparation. As well as intuitive, easy-to-use software, the company retains its competitive edge by offering live help via one of their 80,000 experts and also at any one of their 12,000 physical locations. The pricing for their software is slightly cheaper than some of their main rivals, though the help modules do cost extra and the built-in online help is limited. However, the interface works well and the amount of back up, should a user need it, is hard to argue with.