What Is H&R Block?
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 23 million tax returns worldwide in 2017 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, 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 14-level certification program, with 15 hours of continuing education annually, to earn their master 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 store, there are four digital plans: a free option called More Zero, Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed. With the maximum refund guarantee and option of having your return checked by a tax professional, H&R Block works to ensure that you’re getting the most out of tax season.
All digital options come with the H&R Block guarantees of maximum refunds, 100% accuracy, audit support and satisfaction. You’re reimbursed for any errors on the service’s end. If you’re dissatisfied with the service, you’re eligible for a refund of the purchase price. You can also opt to add in-person audit support for $19.99. Plus, if another tax preparation software guarantees you a larger refund, you can use H&R Block to amend the return and it’ll refund you the purchase price. It’s dedicated to giving you a stress-free, satisfactory experience.
Free Option: H&R Block More Zero
The H&R Block More Zero option is targeted toward new filers or those with simple tax returns. It costs nothing to file federal tax forms and one state return is also free. To begin, you give some personal information – marriage status, number of dependents, annual income – and the service helps you get every deduction available.
H&R Block values convenience, guidance and transparency. With this option, you can file a 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040 with Schedule A. The plan comes with easy import and a free Earned Income Tax Credit. You can import previous returns from any other tax prep service, including your W-2, 1099 (B, DIV, INT and R), 1098 (except 1098-C) and 1095-A. You can also snap a picture of your W-2 and upload it to make things quicker. But the free option does not store your tax return with H&R Block, so make sure you keep a copy of all your documents.
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.
The Deluxe option is the next tier. This plan is the digital option that helps you get the most deductions. Federal forms cost $34.99 and state forms are $36.99 per state. With this option, you get all the features of the free option plus a few more.
For one, you get unlimited tax and technical support via chat and phone. The Deluxe option also comes with DeductionPro. This 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 with the service. Your tax returns are stored for up to six years, making the information easily accessible anytime you need it.
The Premium option is aimed toward investors and rental property owners. It costs $54.99 for federal forms and $36.99 per state. With this option you get all the features that are offered by the free and Deluxe options, as well as additional features.
Most notably, you get assistance with more forms, including Schedule C-EZ, Schedule D, Schedule E and Schedule K-1. Schedule C-EZ is focused on freelance 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 other plans, this is a fit for those with complicated finances. The forms hone in on the specifics of your financial situation. Plus, you still get the guarantees of maximum returns and unlimited expert tax advice.
The Self-Employed option is the most expensive and advanced option from H&R Block. It costs $74.99 for federal forms and $36.99 per state return. It includes all the features of the Premium option plus help filing Schedule C. Schedule C focuses on self-employment and small business income, as well as business tax deductions and asset depreciation.
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. But you can also receive the refund via check or direct deposit.
When it comes to paying tax preparation fees to the service, you can also pay with your tax refund. The funds are deducted directly from the federal refund when services are complete.
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 others may have missed. H&R Block also offers bookkeeping and payroll advice. Its goal is to give you peace of mind, while still giving you all the help you need.
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 online through one of the digital options, you will only receive additional support if you paid for it ($19.99) at the time that you filed. 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.
|H&R Block More Zero Option||Federal: Free State: Free||Best for new filers or simple tax returns, including filers who itemize; basic and convenient features like easy import, refund reveal, step-by-step guidance; supported forms include 1040 with Schedule A, 1040EZ, 1040A|
|H&R Block Deluxe Option||Federal: $34.99 State: $36.99||Best for maximizing your deductions; all More Zero features, plus storage and DeductionPro|
|H&R Block Premium Option||Federal: $54.99 State: $36.99||Best for investors and rental property owners; all More Zero and Deluxe features, plus accurate cost basis; Schedule C-EZ, Schedule D, Schedule E, Schedule K-1|
|H&R Block Self-Employed Option||Federal: $74.99 State: $36.99||Best for small business owners; all More Zero, Deluxe and Premium features, plus Schedule C|
H&R Block has a range of plans. The one best for you depends on your finances. All plans have basic features, like technical support, easy import and the maximum refund guarantee. But the more expensive the plan, the more features you have. 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.
For the 2017 tax season, H&R Block is offering discounted deals for its plans. The price of federal returns for each plan is reduced by $20 and state returns are discounted by $3. You can also receive a 5% bonus on your refund if you choose to receive some or all of your refund as an Amazon e-gift card.
Who H&R Block Is For
With the different plans and widespread availability, H&R Block is useful for many people whether they’re first-time filers or veteran filers. You learn the ins-and-outs of tax filing, giving you full transparency and guidance. The free option also offers extensive features, more than the free options of many of its competitors. Plus, you’re guaranteed to get the maximum refund available. If your finances are more complicated, H&R Block also has suitable plans for you.
If you want to work with an established and reputable company, H&R Block has been around for over 60 years. It values transparency and support. If you’re not comfortable filing online, its 12,000 locations give you the option of in-person filing, as well.
What’s the Catch?
Though H&R Block has a great free option, the price of its paid plans run higher than many other tax planning services. With federal and state fees that range from free to $74.99, it’s more expensive than some of its competitors. Plus, some features only come with the paid plans. The more complex your finances, the more expensive plan you’ll likely need.
How H&R Block Stacks Up
|Tax Planner||Plans Offered||Costs (Federal)||Costs (State)|
|H&R Block||More Zero, Deluxe, Premium, Self-Employed||More Zero: $0 Deluxe: $34.99 Premium: $54.99 Self-Employed: $74.99||Free: $0 Deluxe: $36.99 Premium: $36.99 Self-Employed: $36.99|
|TurboTax||Absolute Zero, Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, TurboTax Live||Absolute Zero: $0 Deluxe: $39.99 Premier: $59.99 Self-Employed: $89.99 TurboTax Live: $149.99||Absolute Zero: $0 Deluxe: $36.99 Premier: $36.99 Self-Employed: $36.99 TurboTax Live: $36.99|
|TaxAct||Free, Plus, Freelancer, Premium||Free: $0 Plus: $25 Freelancer: $39 Premium: $51||Free: $0 Plus: $37 Freelancer: $37 Premium: $37|
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 H&R Block. But, unlike H&R Block, it doesn’t have brick-and-mortar locations. And if you’re hoping to file a 1040 with the free option, you’re out of luck. TurboTax’s free option only allows you to file 1040EZ and 1040A forms – anything else requires an upgrade to one of the paid plans. But all options offer features like easy import and a user-friendly interface. In addition, it has an ItsDeductible option similar to H&R Block’s DeductionPro, which helps determine the deduction for charitable donations.
For the 2017 tax season, TurboTax offers reduced prices for both federal and state filing. The Deluxe option is reduced from $59.99 to $39.99, the Premier option is reduced from $79.99 to $59.99 and the Self-Employed option is reduced from $119.99 to $89.99. The Self-Employed plan from TurboTax is slightly more expensive than H&R Block’s offering, but it includes the benefit for year-round expense monitoring. All state filing is reduced to $36.99.
Another tax planning service is TaxAct. Though TaxAct is less flashy than TurboTax and H&R Block, its four plans are all priced lower, with its Free plan actually being free. TaxAct is fit for those with straightforward finances. Its guidance isn’t as extensive, so those with more complicated tax situations may not get the needed help. But it’s an affordable service and it offers tools to help you get a better understanding of your taxes.
For the 2017 tax season, TaxAct offers free filing for simple 1040EZ and 1040A forms as well as a free state return (as part of their Free plan). State returns for other plans have been reduced to $37.
Bottom Line: Should You Use H&R Block?
H&R Block has been around for over 60 years and with good reason. Its service offers tools and help for those at all stages of tax filing. Whether you’re a first-time or veteran filer, the company has a plan fit for you. With an emphasis on guidance and transparency, it gives you all the information needed to help you file with confidence. Its online options also offer easy import, step-by-step guidance and a maximum refund guarantee, making the process less overwhelming. If online filing isn’t your thing, you also have the option to file in person at one of the many locations.
It isn’t the cheapest service out there, however 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.