No one looks forward to tax season. Sure, at the end of it, you may wind up with a nice refund, but the headache that is the filing process can leave you questioning your sanity. We know, we’ve been there. Regardless, filing taxes is a must (unless you want the IRS to come knocking), but it doesn’t have to be the excruciating, expensive process you’ve come to know it as. There are tax preparation services — that allow you to file from start to finish online — that can help you make it quick, painless and easy on your wallet and H&R Block is one of them. But is it the best one for you?
Well, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know, from the features of its service to its various pricing plans to its customer support, and everything else that should be considered before you make that decision.
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What Is H&R Block?
When it comes to filing taxes, H&R Block is a leader in the tax preparation industry. The company provides professional and online self-service tax filing options to people in all 50 states, including U.S. territories Puerto Rico and Guam, and abroad in many countries as well. Since its inception in 1955, its team of experts has helped prepare over 800 million tax returns and the company has more than 10,000 retail locations.
Whether you are self-employed, working as a freelancer or contractor, married and filing jointly, single and filing individually, or are a small business owner, H&R Block has a filing option for you. With price plans for every budget — including a free version — 24/7 customer service support, and easy to use online tools, it’s no surprise that it’s been chosen by so many.
A Breakdown Of H&R Block Filing Options
H&R Block has four general filing options, all designed with convenience and ease in mind, with most allowing you to skip the in-office sit-down.
- Online – Prepare and file your taxes on your own from the comfort of your home using one of H&R Block’s four software packages. With Online Assist, you can get expert guidance as you work your way through filing your taxes. You can even share your screen with them if you get stuck during any part of the process.
- Tax Pro Go – Starting at $49, you can get matched virtually with a licensed tax professional with at least 10 years of experience, or a “Tax Pro” as the company calls them. Upload your necessary documents online and your Tax Pro will take it from there. When they are done, they will send you your tax returns to review and sign, and after you have, just send them back and they will file them for you. You can schedule a call or chat if you have any questions along the way.
- In-Office Appointment – Starting at $69, you can sit down with a Tax Pro at an H&R Block office near you to get started filing your taxes (drop-off and walk-ins are also available, but appointments are recommended).
- Drop-Off – Starting at $69, you can leave your tax documents with an H&R Block office near you (with or without an appointment), with a filled out Drop-Off Form, and it will be assigned to a Tax Pro to take care of. You’ll be able to review and approve your tax returns online or can make an appointment to do so in person at your drop-off office to review with a Tax Pro before approving it for them to file.
Everything You Need To Know About Filing Online With H&R Block
What’s great about H&R Block is its robust e-services, which given the current health crisis the country is facing, makes it particularly enticing. You can file your taxes safely from home and still get the same high-quality service you’d expect to get from an in-person consultation with an expert.
A few things that are unique about H&R Block’s Online option:
- With the H&R Block W-2 photo capture, customers can skip the manual entry of their W-2 information. Instead, take a picture of your form and upload it online. You can also easily import tax documents from your previous year filings with other tax prep services (like TurboTax, Tax Act, and Credit Karma) and H&R Block Online supports a variety of tax situations for free, such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), child care expenses, student loan interest and more.
- As you make your way through the filing process for both federal and state, you’ll get real-time refund results that provide insights into drops or increases in your refund. Access answers for hundreds of commonly asked questions — including direction on more than 350 credits and deductions — that may come up along the way through H&R Block’s Help Center.
- Data protection that includes a security protection team that monitors and protects your data 24/7, regular security system audits by external security experts to assess potential risks, web browsing encryption, multi-layer authentication to protect your account, and secure data centers, networks, and servers.
- H&R Block’s online filing can be accessed on smartphones, tablets, and computers, so you can pick up where you left off on different devices.
Online Filing Packages & Pricing
If you choose to file online, you can do so by yourself with the Free, Deluxe, Premium, and Self Employed packages, and right now, H&R Block is having a 25% off sale for all of its online filing packages.
Here is a break down of these online packages:
H&R Block’s free file package applies to both federal and any state filings. It’s targeted more towards individuals who are new to filing taxes, those with simple tax returns (meaning they only have W-2s) families with children that are dependents, students and graduates with educational costs and those who are unemployed.
H&R Block Online supports more forms, as well as more credits and deductions, with its free file option than similar services, reducing the chances of needing to upgrade to a priced plan to complete a simple tax return.
With H&R Block Free Online, customers can import the following forms to claim tax credits: Form 1095-A for those enrolled in qualifying health plans through health insurance marketplaces, Form 1098 (including E and T) for mortgage interest, student loan interest and student tuition, and Form 1099 (including B, G, DIV, INT, R, and C) for qualifying income from investments, interest, debt forgiveness, government payments, and retirement plans.
Free customers will also receive technical support via chat.
The Deluxe package, which costs $37.99 for federal filing and an additional $44.99 per state filed, is great for homeowners and those who donate to charities regularly.
Deluxe has Schedule A, which homeowners can use to maximize their mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions. It also includes DeductionPro, a tool that will work to optimize tax savings for any charitable donations you’ve made during the filing year.
For those using Deluxe, all tax documents entered in H&R Block’s system will be stored there for up to six years. When you next file with H&R Block, you’ll get an automatic import of your return from the previous year.
H&R Block’s Premium package, which costs $52.49 for federal filing and $69.99 per state filed, is geared towards people with more complicated finances and multiple income sources — freelancers, contractors, investors, landlords, and other owners of rental property.
Investors will get guidance reporting stock, bond and mutual fund sales, capital gains, and losses on form Schedule D. Investment income recorded with participating financial institutions will be automatically imported. With this package, business expense information recorded through select expense tracker apps can also be imported.
Though this is the most expensive option, costing $78.74 for federal filing and $44.99 per state filed, the Self-Employed package is the best one for small business owners and others who are fully self-employed because it includes the Schedule C form.
Small business owners and others who are self-employed that are classified as sole proprietorships use this form to report their earnings and losses, business tax deductions, and asset depreciation.
With the interview-style process that Self-Employed provides, customers can expect to be guided carefully through common industry-specific expenses to optimize their deductions and maximize their refunds.
One cool feature of note: If you are an Uber driver, with this package, tax documents from the rideshare company can be imported to H&R Block’s system.
For an additional cost, H&R Block also has another set of online filing packages that correspond with the four discussed above, except they come with Online Assist, which provides customers with access to extra expert help throughout the filing process, including final review.
- Basic Online Assist – $49.99 for federal filing and $39.99 per state filed
- Deluxe Online Assist – $99.99 for federal filing and $49.99 per state filed
- Premium Online Assist – $139.99 for federal filing and $49.99 per state filed
- Self-Employed Online Assist – $169.99 for federal filing and $49.99 per state filed
Each of these packages come with on-demand help from a tax expert, enrolled agent, or CPA, guidance on tax questions and unlimited help via chat, screen share and phone.
Why choose any of these options? Well, if you want to be in control of your tax filing, but would still like the help of an expert during the more complex aspects of the process, Online Assist is a great option. You can put your mind at ease knowing that right at the tip of your fingers you have access to someone with the experience and knowledge needed to see you through your filing, no matter what roadblocks you may come across.
Refund And Payment Methods
With H&R Block, there are a couple of options to choose from when it comes to how you pay your tax preparation fees and receive your refund.
For fees, you can choose to have them deducted directly from your refund after it’s issued by the IRS, or you can pay your fees upon filing by cash, credit, debit, or check. As for refunds, you can choose to receive them via an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard (and use the card anywhere MasterCard is accepted), direct deposit, mailed check, or get your refund reimbursed to you through U.S. Series I Savings Bonds.
H&R Block Service Guarantees
H&R Block takes a comprehensive approach to its customer service, offering a variety of service guarantees for its online and in-office Tax Pro options to ensure quick and easy resolve if problems do arise.
- Maximum Refund Guarantee – H&R Block promises to get you the maximum refund you’re entitled to, and if you discover an error on you return that entitles you to a larger refund or smaller tax liability, you’ll be refunded in full for your filing fees and an amended return will be filed for you at no additional charge.
- 100% Accuracy Guarantee – Though the company stands firmly behind its calculations, it recognizes no one is beyond fault. That being said, if its calculations do prove to be inaccurate for any customer, the company promises reimbursement for any IRS penalties incurred as a result up to a maximum of $10,000.
- No Surprise Guarantee – This guarantee provides four benefits. H&R Block promises an upfront and transparent pricing and filing process; A mid-year tax check-in reminding customers to review their W-4s, with the provision of a W-4 calculator tool and a free consultation to ensure you’re on the right track for next year so you can avoid unwelcome surprises on next year’s tax return withholdings; and audit assistance. Failure to follow through on any of them will result in a 20% discount on its tax prep services for the following year.
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee – For in-office Tax Pro support, you only pay for services rendered if you are satisfied with the results and decide to accept your tax return (those who authorize the use of H&R Block’s e-file services automatically agree to accept their returns upon completion and are required to pay all fees when requested).
- Audit Support Guarantee – For those using H&R Blocks e-file services, if you receive an IRS tax notice or other notice regarding a tax return you filed online with H&R Block, you’ll get free assistance to help you understand the notice and will be provided with steps to take to respond to it.
What We Like About It
H&R Block’s packages cater to a wide range of filers, with each filing option providing meticulous service to customers. Its focus on step-by-step guidance allows customers to gain knowledge of tax filing practices and the industry that will make filing easier and easier each year.
H&R Block’s online software is extremely easy to use. You’ll only be prompted to answer a few questions at a time per page so you can carefully respond to them without getting overwhelmed.
Whatever burning tax questions you may have as you work your way through the filing process will have clear and concise answers (which, is not a strong suit of the IRS’ website), delivered to you via clickable questions with pop up answers or through the FAQs page and Help Center, and tax terminology is hyperlinked, making definitions a click away.
If you have to stop what you’re doing for any reason (or accidentally exit out of a page you’re on), you can pick up wherever you left off later.
H&R Block has more than 10,000 locations globally and is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure in-office appointments are as safe as possible for both customers and associates. That means you’ll get a lot of options to get your taxes done in the way that you ultimately decide is best.
Bottom Line: Is H&R Block The Right Tax Prep Option For You?
H&R Block is an established and reputable tax preparation company that delivers a quick turnaround and accuracy for its customers. It has strong in-person expert assistance for those who prefer a human touch, and for anyone who would rather take a DIY approach to their taxes, its online filing process and software is user-friendly, thorough and transparent.
The tax filing deadline is approaching quickly. So if you want a tax prep company that will get you from point A to point B fast without leaving you pulling your hair out from frustration, H&R Block is a safe bet.