H&R Block has been making a name for itself as a consumer tax services provider since 1955. Based in Kansas City, it has approximately 12,000 company-owned and retail tax offices worldwide. This includes U.S. territories, all 50 states and 100 military bases. The accessibility of H&R Block – with an office located within five miles of most Americans – makes it a convenient, reputable tax planning service.
Not only does H&R block have numerous brick-and-mortar stores, it also offers digital options. Using these do-it-yourself services, H&R Block helped prepare 20 million tax returns in the U.S. for the 2018 tax year and claim over $50 billion in tax refunds, credits and other benefits.
The service also offers extensive support options. The Tax Institute, H&R Block’s center of tax expertise, employs tax attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), former IRS agents and others to give expert advice to H&R Block clients. You have access to over 70,000 tax professionals, making it a good resource for both tax professionals and clients. All tax professionals complete a certification program to earn their tax advisor status.
With a range of plans and dedication to support and guidance, H&R Block helps you navigate through tax season with ease and efficiency.
H&R Block’s Filing Options
H&R Block offers multiple ways to file your taxes. In addition to the option of filing your return at a physical H&R Block location, there are four digital plans: Free, Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed.
All digital options come with multiple guarantees from H&R Block. The company guarantees 100% accuracy. You’re reimbursed for any errors on the service’s end and you get in-person audit support no matter which online option you use. If you’re dissatisfied with the service, you’re eligible for a refund of the purchase price as per the company’s satisfaction guarantee. There’s also a guarantee that H&R Block will find you the maximum refund. If another tax preparation software guarantees you a larger refund, H&R Block will amend your return and refund you the purchase price.
H&R Block’s free option is targeted toward new filers and those with simple tax returns. It costs nothing to file federal tax forms and all state returns are also free. This is notable for people with multiple state returns, since the free option from most services offer one state return for free but then charges for each additional state return.
With the free option, you can file Form 1040 plus a number of common tax forms. This includes Form 1099 (B, DIV, INT and R), 1098 (E and T) and 1095 (A and B). You can also claim use attach Schedule EIC (for claiming the earned income tax credit).
Getting started is also simple. H&R Block allows you to import the previous year’s tax return even if filed with a different company. You can also import previous W-2, 1095, 1098 and 1099 forms. You can add the information on your latest W-2 by simply taking and uploading a picture of the form.
In addition, this free option offers step-by-step guidance to ensure that you’re well informed throughout the process. There are easily accessible answers to commonly asked questions, as well as direction on more than 350 credits and deductions. In addition, you get technical support by chat. H&R Block also offers refund reveal, which lets you know why refunds go up and down throughout the filing process. This full transparency gives you confidence that you’re getting the maximum refund you’re entitled to.
If you can’t file for free, you will probably be able to file with the Deluxe option. It has a cost of $29.99 for your federal return and $36.99 per state return. In addition to everything offered with the free option, Deluxe offers more forms and thus lets you claim more deductions.
This option allows you to file Schedule A and itemize deductions. It also includes DeductionPro®, which helps you track your charitable work and contributions to maximize your deductions. Plus, if you’re a repeat customer of H&R Block, you have free storage and access to six years’ worth of tax returns. This makes your information easily accessible anytime you need it.
According to H&R Block, the Premium option, which costs $49.99 for federal filing and $36.99 per state, is best for freelancers and contractors who have less than $5,000 of income from such work. This option is also good for you if you are a rental property owner or investor.
Beyond the features mentioned in the previous filing options, Premium includes, most notably, Schedule C-EZ, Schedule D, Schedule E and Schedule K-1. Schedule C-EZ is focused on freelancers and independent contractors with simple income and expenses. Schedule D focuses on stocks, bonds and capital gains and losses. Schedule E reports rental property income and tax deductions. Schedule K-1 reports personal partnership or S corporation income, estate or trust income.
With extensive features that are not available with the previous plans, Premium is a fit for those with more complicated finances.
The Self-Employed option is the most expensive and advanced option from H&R Block. Every form and deduction that H&R Block offers is included with this option. It costs $79.99 for federal filing and $36.99 per state return.
One distinguishing feature with this option is that you can file Schedule C. This form focuses on self-employment and small business income, as well as business tax deductions and asset depreciation.
There are also tools to help maximize your tax savings by ensuring you claim all the business deductions possible. If you drive for Uber, the Self-Employment filing option allows you to import your tax information directly from Uber.
Tax Pro Review
With this option, brand new for the 2018 tax year, you can "have a tax pro review,sign & e?file for you." It's a bit unclear why this option is necessary, but it's always nice to know that an expert has looked everything over without finding any issues. You also have access to the tax professional for one year after filing.
This option costs $119.99 to file your federal return and $36.99 per state return. All available tax forms are included.
Refund and Payment Options
When filing with H&R Block, you can have your tax refund loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard®. This card works like a debit card and can be used anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. You can also receive your refund via check or direct deposit.
When it comes to paying H&R Block’s tax preparation fees, you can also pay with your tax refund. The funds are deducted directly from the federal refund when services are complete. It’s also possible to pay by cash, check, debit card or credit card.
In-Office Tax Preparation
Though it offers a range of options for online filing, H&R Block also offers an in-office tax preparation option. With 12,000 offices worldwide, you can work with a trusted expert to help you get the maximum refund.
This is as simple as bringing in your tax documents and having the professionals do the work for you. A free service called Second Look® allows you to bring in past returns to have a trained professional look for money that you may have missed. H&R Block also offers bookkeeping and payroll advice.
Tax Audit Services
If you’re being audited for a return that you filed with H&R Block, you will receive a free consultation to help you understand the specifics of the audit. After the consultation, you may be eligible for further audit assistance.
If you filed your return with H&R Block’s desktop software, you will receive its Free In-person Audit Support. If you filed at a physical H&R Block store, you can purchase audit support for an additional fee if and when you need it.
Extensive Online Help and Tools
H&R Block offers online tools to help you navigate through tax season. This includes a tax calculator to help you calculate your returns, a W-4 calculator and an ACA calculator. In addition, it has communities of experts ready to help with your questions and concerns. Block Talk is its blog that shares tax tips, hacks and facts. The Tax Institute shares knowledge and tax information directly from tax experts. H&R Block is committed to transparency and guidance, whether you’re new or a tax professional.
|Free||Federal: Free State: Free||Best for new filers or simple tax returns; supported forms include 1040 with some child tax credits|
|Deluxe||Federal: $29.99 State: $36.99||Best for maximizing your deductions; includes all free features plus forms for homeowners; allows you to itemize|
|Premium||Federal: $49.99 State: $36.99||Best for investors and rental property owners; all Free and Deluxe features, plus accurate cost basis; Schedule C-EZ, Schedule D, Schedule E, Schedule K-1|
|Self-Employed||Federal: $79.99 State: $36.99||Best for small business owners; all Free, Deluxe and Premium features, plus Schedule C|
|Tax Pro Review||Federal: $119.99 State: $36.99||Includes all previous features plus access to a tax professional who can double-check your review and provide guidance for one year after filing|
H&R Block has a range of plans. The best one for you depends on your finances. All plans have basic features, like technical support, easy import of tax common documents and the maximum refund guarantee. But the more expensive the plan, the more features you get. This corresponds to more complex financial needs.
If you don’t want to file using one of H&R Block’s digital options, you’re also able to work with in-person tax preparers at H&R Block’s physical tax offices.
Who H&R Block Is For
With the different plans and widespread availability, H&R Block is useful for a wide range of filers, whether you’re a first-time filer or have been filing for years. You learn the ins-and-outs of tax filing, and the online filing services are very easy to use.
H&R Block has the added advantage of thousands of physical offices where you can talk with a tax expert and file in person. This is a nice perk if you have more complicated finances and prefer working face-to-face with someone.
What’s the Catch?
If cost is a primary concern for you, know that H&R Block is more expensive than some other filing services. For the most part, that’s because it offers a more user-friendly design as well as clearer explanations of the filing process. However, if you have filed for years already or feel confident looking up the questions you may have throughout the process, other services will help you to save.
How H&R Block Stacks Up
|Tax Planner||Plans Offered||Costs (Federal)||Costs (State)|
|H&R Block||Free, Deluxe, Premium, Self-Employed, Tax Pro Review||Free: $0 Deluxe: $29.99 Premium: $49.99 Self-Employed: $79.99 Tax Pro Review: $119.99||Free: $0 Deluxe: $36.99 Premium: $36.99 Self-Employed: $36.99 Tax Pro Review: $36.99|
|TurboTax||Free, Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed,||Free: $0 Deluxe: $39.99 Premier: $59.99 Self-Employed: $89.99||Free: $0 Deluxe: $39.99 Premier: $39.99 Self-Employed: $39.99|
|TaxAct||Free, Basic+, Deluxe+, Premier+, Self Employed+||Free: $0 Basic+: $9.95 Deluxe+: $29.95 Premier+: $34.95 Self Employed+: $49.95||Free: $0 Basic+: $19.95 Deluxe+: $39.95 Premier+: $39.95 Self Employed+: $39.95|
H&R Block is an established tax planning service that started out in traditional tax offices. But with the rise of digital tax planning, others have come out with similar services at competitive prices.
TurboTax is one of the most popular tax planning services, with prices similar to, but slightly higher than, H&R Block. One big difference between the two is that TurboTax doesn’t have brick-and-mortar locations.
For the most part, TurboTax is quite similar to H&R Block. They both have four digital filing options offering similar forms and tools. So if you have a simple return and you’re focused on saving money, H&R Block will probably work just fine. Where these two services differ most is with their more expensive options. TurboTax does offer a more dedicated plan for self-employed filers and small business owners. This includes a year of QuickBooks Self-Employed with TurboTax’s Self-Employed option. This version of QuickBooks makes it easy to track business expenses throughout the year. It also helps you to calculate and file estimated taxes. The TurboTax prices are higher than what you’d pay for H&R Block, but may be worth it for a service that’s tailored to your needs.
Another tax planning service is TaxAct. Though TaxAct is less flashy than TurboTax and H&R Block, its plans are all priced lower. This makes it a good choice if you have a relatively simple tax situation and don’t want to spend much money on filing your return. TaxAct is best for those with straightforward finances because its guidance and educational features aren’t as extensive. If you have a more complicated tax situation, this means that you’ll need to do some research on your own to make sure that you understand the whole filing process and have an idea which deductions you should look for or avoid.
Bottom Line: Should You Use H&R Block?
H&R Block isn’t the cheapest service out there, but it is straightforward, user-friendly and reputable. You get a better understanding of the filing process, while still getting the most out of tax season. With an emphasis on step-by-step guidance, it gives you all the information needed to file with confidence. Its online options make it easy to import tax documents and to look at tax returns from previous years (if you’re a returning customer). If you can afford it, H&R Block is a solid option for you. It’s also a good choice if you want in-person help from a tax expert. H&R Block offices provide you the freedom to start online and then switch to in-person filing if necessary.
Tips for Getting Through Tax Season
- Not sure what the latest changes to the tax code are? Filing taxes is already confusing to begin with, so help yourself by talking to a financial advisor. An advisor who specializes in taxes can help you to not only simply the filing process, but also to set yourself up throughout the year so that your tax season is as painless as possible.
- When you finish filing a federal return, there’s a good chance you will need to file a state return. Each state handles income taxes a bit differently but they usually make it easy to stay up to date on the status of your state return.
- Do you find that you rely on the money from your tax refund to make ends meet? Look at the tax withholding information on your W-4. By claiming more or fewer allowances, you can change how much your employer removes (withholds) from your paycheck. Less withholding (more allowances) could mean bigger paychecks and thus more money in your bank account throughout the year.