OUR TOP PICK
There's a lot of competition in the online tax niche and the situation changes from year to year. Tax giant H&R Block continues to be among the top dogs in this segment with its software offerings for taxpayers of all income levels.
Decades ago, H&R Block carved out an exclusive niche in the tax preparation business as one of the only companies that offered fast in-office filing, quick refunds and an offer to help people who faced federal tax audits. Today, they have built an equally impressive online filing enterprise that has few rivals.
The company's online filing software now comes with even easier integration options than before, around-the-clock chat support and reasonable pricing on all plans. Main competitor TurboTax charges more for almost identical plans and services, but there are enough differences to make a direct comparison difficult. For a large number of taxpayers who only have W-2 income, the H&R Block free filing plan is probably the best in the market.
Here's an overview of H&R Block's online tax filing plans, prices, and features. The review also discusses the product's ease of use, navigation, customer service, tax refund options, the vast knowledge base and more.
Refunds and Signup
Refunds: Unlike its competitors, H&R Block offers multiple ways to receive your refund if you have one coming. In addition to the traditional paper check via U.S. mail and direct bank deposit, you can choose to receive a prepaid MasterCard with the funds loaded onto it, a U.S. savings bond or an Amazon gift card. If you opt for the Amazon card, H&R will bump up your refund amount by a full 5 percent.
Keep in mind that prices and features of all the major online tax software products change from year to year. Always check with company websites several months before tax season and see if any prices have risen on the services that interest you.
Signup: At the main H&R website you'll be quizzed for a minute or so in order to see what product is a best fit for your particular tax situation. After that, you can set up an online account, which takes less than five minutes. Note that you can delay account creation until later but during the interim, you won't be able to access the full slate of features. There's also a brief disclosure form that you will need to sign if you want the software to have the ability to personalize your tax filing.
Once you've completed those steps, you're ready to begin your return. Remember that when it comes time to pay, the software will require either bank or credit card information. You don't need to supply it up front, which is a nice touch. If, for whatever reason, you decide that the H&R Block filing software is not to your liking at any point in the return, just check out of the app and don't give any credit or banking data.
The Knowledge Base
H&R Block has implemented a very useful feature with the in-software content that delivers quick, relevant articles about various topics. The items are places at key locations where taxpayers tend to ask questions and need a little help. The articles are the first line of information. If you want more detailed explanations, there are links for longer pieces of content. There's even a special area where you can read about important Tax Reform & Jobs Act changes to the tax code as it applies to your return.
If you choose to use one of the paid plans, there are additional resources, including chat for tech support in case you're having trouble with the software, “Ask a Tax Pro,” as well as telephone support. Phone support and “Ask a Tax Pro” are only available at certain times during the tax season.
Accessibility, Synchronization and Service
For filers who prefer to work on their mobile devices, H&R Block has made things easy. Use the tax prep software to import prior year tax data, use your smartphone camera to snap W-2s and other key documents, and use the same sign-in you use for the desktop app. It's simple to move chunks of data back and forth from a PC to a mobile device so you can work on your taxes anytime, anywhere.
Synchronization is a built-in function of the software. If you have a PDF of last year's return, for example, you can upload it instantly and allow the app to pull information from it for the current year's filing.
Taxpayers enjoy multiple avenues of customer support, including online chat, phone support with a person, and for an added fee you'll have the ability to display questions via screen-share. There's a massive online library of articles and FAQs that cover all the basic tax questions you're likely to have. Finally, as you work on your return you'll notice dozens of information boxes and help topics displayed exactly when you need them most. As a last-resort, you can always leave your computer screen and head to one of H&R Blocks 12,000-plus local offices in the U.S.
Ease of Use and Navigation
H&R continues to upgrade and modify its import functionality. That makes it easier for taxpayers to use last year's returns even if they didn't file via H&R Block. The latest version of the software allows for quick and easy use of apps for expense tracking, seamless importing of W-2s, 1099-DIV/INT forms and more. There's even a special app for small business owners to help with tracking receipts, expenses and vehicle mileage on an ongoing basis. The company is always adding ways to cut down on your data entry chores via apps, camera capability, importing and uploading.
Navigation is semi-guided. The software asks you some basic questions in the beginning and then you can go as quickly or as slowly as you like based on your particular return's complexity. You'll even be prompted throughout the filing when it's time to upload a form or schedule. Of course, there's always a change to review entries at the end of each major section.
Pros and Cons
The pros of H&R Block online tax software are comprehensive. They cover most of the areas where filers encounter trouble and seamlessly assist you on-the-spot. In particular, the pros include:
-There is audit support, as a paid add-on, if you need it. This is one of the company's stand-out features that it pioneered in the early days of the tax-prep industry.
-The navigation is stunningly simple and takes you by the hand as you walk through your return. If you don't need that level of help, then you'll be left alone until you request assistance. It's very helpful to be able to upload and import documents, schedules and old returns.
-If you want to speak or chat directly with tax experts, all you need to do is pick up your phone or click “chat live.” The people on the other end are tax experts who have probably already heard and answered the question you're intending to ask.
-There's no payment data required before you begin your return. Many of H&R Block's competitors demand credit card info before you can do anything. With H&R, you can test-drive the software and see how you like it before making any kind of financial commitment. The pricing schedule is clearly laid out for all to see. If you do decide to use H&R, there won't be any surprises when it comes time to pay.
-If your return is simple, with no itemization or complicated forms, you can possibly qualify for the free version of the software. That means you get all the advantages of H&R Block's experience for the sum total of zero dollars.
-Unless you opt for free or deluxe filing category you could end up paying a rather high price to prepare and file your returns. Essentially, anything more complex than itemized deductions automatically places you into one of the higher-cost realms of H&R Block's pricing levels. But even in those categories, you'll still be paying much less than you would with a private CPA.
-All the really good stuff seems to come as an add-on with an added price tag. The available audit support is wonderful to have, especially if you're unsure about a few items on your return, but you will pay for the luxury. Even the added cost for filing state returns can be considered an add-on because H&R charges quite a bit for state filing. Considering that at least 80 percent of taxpayers file their federal and state returns at the same time, this extra cost can all a lot to your tax preparation expense.
-The tax preparation marketplace now offers several free-filing options from diverse sources, including the IRS, non-profits like Credit Karma and AARP, as well as the federal government's on-the-ground free filing service called VITA, which is staffed by volunteers. If you're looking to minimize your tax preparation costs, there are more and more options every year. Spending upwards of $80 or $100 on online filing services like H&R Block can seem frivolous for families who need to watch their pennies.
Best Plans and Prices for Different Kinds of Filers
H&R Block offers four primary types of pricing plans that range from free to about $80 for federal returns and $40 for state returns. There are a couple premium add-on options noted below in the category breakdown for taxpayers who want extra bells and whistles. Here are the main categories, what they cost, and who they're a best fit for:
Online Free H&R Block is as good as their word because free means free. If you just have W-2s and an otherwise relatively simple return, there's no charge for federal or state filing.
Online Deluxe If you intend to itemize deductions, but have no further complications, the best choice is Online Deluxe, at $22.49 for federal and $36.99 for state returns.
Online Premium If you own property or have investment income through a service like Realty Mogul or others, Premium will handle your filing needs for a federal return fee of $37.49 and a state return fee of $36.99.
Online Self-Employed If you own your own business, are an independent contractor or generally fall into the “self-employed” category, use this plan, which weighs in at $79.99 for federal and $36.99 for state returns.
Extras for special situations include “Tax Pro Review,” at approximately $40 for state returns and $145 for federal. It has every schedule and form IRS has, but the best part is that an actual human being will review, sign and electronically file your return after you are finished with it.
All the plans have no-cost tech support and chat. For paid plans, you get access to either a CPA or EA (enrolled agent). If you want audit support, you'll need to pay extra and request it as an upgrade on one of the paid options. Another upgrade is called “Tax Identity Care,” for an additional charge of $14.99.
General H&R Block Questions
This section will help you understand the basics about the services that H&R Block offers.
How does H&R Block work?
H&R Block uses specialized software that’s programed with the current US tax code. This software helps maximize your tax return and ensures you get the best deal.
Does H&R Block accept walk ins?
Yes, you can walk in to an H&R Block to find out about their services. You can also set an appointment on the phone or online.
Does H&R Block keep records?
They do. You can get copies of past returns by logging on to your account or requesting them from your local office.
H&R Block Tax Return Questions
We’ll answer some of the most common questions people have about H&R Block tax returns in this section.
Does H&R Block give tax loans?
Yes, you can get an interest-free loan as an advance on your tax return up to $3,000 from H&R Block.
Does H&R Block do same day refunds?
You can’t get same-day refunds with H&R Block, but you can get an advance loan on your refund, which will put money in your pocket right away.
Does H&R Block still do rapid refund?
H&R Block has a program to give you an advance on your tax return in the form of a no-interest loan. The loan is paid back directly to H&R Block when your refund comes in.
What to bring to H&R Block for taxes?
That depends on your specific tax situation. You should call ahead of time to ask H&R Block what you’ll need. At the very least you should have any 1099’s or W2’s you have from this year.
Does H&R Block give instant refunds?
H&R Block has a special program that gives you most of your refund instantly. This is an advance loan that has no interest. The loan can be up to $3,000 and will be paid back directly to H&R Block out of your refund.
How long does H&R Block refund take?
That depends on lots of different factors, mostly because the time your refund takes depends on the IRS, not H&R Block. Usually, you can expect your refund in 2 weeks to a month.
Can H&R Block get my W2 for me?
Yes, you can get your W2’s from H&R Block using their free W-2 early access program. You’ll need to talk to them to find out more information.
When does H&R Block start tax advances?
In 2019, H&R Block started tax advances on January 4th. The exact date they start depends on how the January calendar looks relative to weekends.
Is H&R Block responsible for mistakes?
In some cases, but it depends on the specific issue. You’ll need to talk to H&R Block and see what kind of coverage you have in your case.
Does H&R Block e file?
Yes, H&R Block will e-file taxes. In fact, that’s the most common way for the company to submit taxes, and means your return gets processed faster.
Can H&R Block get me more money?
That depends on your situation. Any tax program should produce the same refund if you enter the same data into it.
Does H&R Block give you money right away?
H&R Block has a program that can give you money right away. It’s called a Refund Advance Loan. This will give you up to $3,000 out of your tax refund, and will use your refund to pay back the loan.
H&R Block Services
This section will answer the most popular questions about H&R Block services.
Can I file just state taxes with H&R Block?
Yes, you can file just your state taxes with H&R Block. However, it will be faster to file federal and state, as the information from one can be used to fill out the other.
Is H&R Block peace of mind worth it?
That depends on your particular tax situation. If you’re filing a 1040ez, then it’s probably not worth it. However, if your tax situation is more complex, then the peace of mind program can be a good option.
Is H&R Block doing Christmas loans?
There’s no information yet as to whether or not H&R Block will be doing Christmas loans this year.
Can you file taxes online with H&R Block?
Yes, you can file taxes online with H&R Block. In fact, most of the taxes that people file through H&R Block are done online.
Does H&R Block give free consultations?
Not as a regular feature, but the company does have special days where they do free consultations for people.
What is an H&R Block premium office?
H&R Block premium is a version of the company’s tax software that’s best for people with complex tax situations, like business owners or people that own rental property.
Can H&R Block amend taxes?
Yes, you can amend your taxes with H&R Block. You’ll need to contact their office or check out their website for more information.
Can H&R Block do back taxes?
Yes, you can file back taxes with H&R Block. You can use their software to fill out and file your back taxes.
Does H&R Block do city taxes?
Most H&R tax software that you can use yourself doesn’t provide the option to pay city taxes. However, the company can handle this for you through their other services.
Is H&R Block doing anticipation loans this year?
H&R Block will be offering tax advance loans this year. Last year you could get an advance of up to $3,000 on your taxes.
Does H&R Block support 1040nr?
Yes, H&R Block tax software can handle your 1040nr to ensure that your taxes are filled out completely and accurately.
Does H&R Block have a notary?
Yes, you can find a notary public at H&R Block locations. However, not all locations make their notary available for public services.
Does H&R Block do quarterly taxes?
Yes, you can use H&R Block software to file quarterly estimated taxes, ensuring that you get the best return at the end of the year.
Does H&R Block do international taxes?
In most cases, yes. You can use your client portal at H&R Block to walk you though the process of using H&R Block to file international taxes.
Does H&R Block have CPAs?
Some offices do. You’ll need to ask your specific H&R Block office about CPA services to find out more.
Does H&R Block Deluxe have Schedule C?
Yes, H&R Block deluxe has advanced Schedule C guidance to help you get the most out of your return.
H&R Block Pricing and Payment
We’ll help clarify H&R Block pricing and payment options in this section.
Can I file my taxes free with H&R Block?
In most cases, yes. You’ll need to check to make sure your taxes fit the free-filing requirements outlined by the federal government.
How much does it cost to file taxes with H&R Block?
That depends on several factors – different software options are available to handle different levels of complexity for tax returns. You can use the H&R Block website to determine which software is best for your needs.
How much does it cost to file a 1099 with H&R Block?
The cost to file a 1099 depends on the specific tax software you choose. You should use the tools on their website to determine the best tax software option for your tax situation.
Can H&R Block take payment from your taxes?
Yes, you can pay both federal and state tax prep fees out of your respective refunds with H&R Block.
How to pay H&R Block?
You’ve got several options to pay H&R Block. You can pay upfront when you file your taxes, or you can pay out of your refund when it’s approved.
How much is H&R Block online?
There are different price levels for H&R Block online depending on the specific tax product you use. There are more expensive options that are better for people with more complex tax situations.
How much does H&R Block charge for 1040ez?
Most people filing a 1040ez will be able to file for free at H&R Block or any other tax preparation company according to federal law.
How much is an H&R Block appointment?
The base price for using H&R Block offices is $59. However, you might be able to get an appointment for free. Otherwise, you’ll have to ask about the price at your local office.
Do you have to pay H&R Block upfront?
No, you don’t have to pay H&R Block upfront. You can choose to pay them out of your return when it gets approved by the IRS.
Does H&R Block give free quotes?
H&R Block doesn’t give free quotes. Instead, they have what they call a transparent pricing option that will predict how much the services you need will cost.
Is H&R Block free for students?
It can be, depending on your tax situation. Lots of people qualify for free filing options according to US tax laws.
Is H&R Block second look really free?
Yes, you can get a free second look at your previous years tax returns at H&R Block to see if you could have gotten a bigger return with the company.
Other H&R Block Questions
This section answers H&R Block questions that don’t fit into our other categories.
Is H&R Block better than TurboTax?
That depends on you. All tax software is based on the same tax laws. That means it’s a question of what interface makes the most sense to you so that you get all the deductions you deserve.
What bank does H&R Block use?
As of this writing, H&R Block uses Axos bank. You can get more information about the bank and its various policies by checking out their privacy statement on the H&R Block website. Also if you are searching for the highest yield savings account we cover that in another banking article.
Does H&R Block software work on mac?
Yes, H&R Block tax software comes in versions compatible with either Windows or Mac operating systems.
Which is better H&R Block or Liberty Tax?
H&R Block is usually the more affordable choice when compared to Liberty Tax. Both services should, in theory, produce the exact same return for you.
What is the Emerald Card at H&R Block?
The Emerald card is an option that you can use to store your tax refund. The card can be used at local retail outlets just like a debit or credit card.
What bank is H&R Block Emerald Card?
The H&R Block Emerald Card is issued by Axos Bank.