H&R Block is one of the largest and oldest (founded in 1955) tax preparation companies in the country. Once the new year comes around you’ll start hearing and seeing their ads ramping up for tax season. They have over 12,000 locations across North America, Australia, and India but our H&R Block review will focus on their tax preparation software.
H&R Block Pros & Cons
- Easy to follow: Questions are asked in an interview style, not direct form input
- Free Schedule A support for itemization
- 12,000 stores provide options for in-person support if needed (though this option is not free)
- The cost is pretty middle of the road. Some of the competitors offer more for a lower price.
H&R Block Review
One of the first things we wondered when doing our review is what does H&R Block stand for? We’d never really thought about it. It turns out that the founder was named Henry Bloch and he later hired his brother Richard. Bloch was changed to Block to avoid any confusion on how it was pronounced.
The H&R Block software is designed to make the user experience easy. One of the main reasons people don’t just get the tax forms and fill them out is that they are complex and quite intimidating if you are a tax pro.
Instead of using the forms H&R Block asks you questions and you fill them out, the software takes care of completing the actual forms with the info you provide. They also have a tool to import W-2s so that you don’t have to spend the time filling out the info yourself. The software is hosting online so you can access it from anywhere you can connect to the Internet.
The software also does a good job of keeping the user informed and making it easy to get help. There is a searchable knowledge base that you can access at any time and many of the terms used have a link built in. That way if you’re not sure what they mean you can quickly get the info that you need.
Any version of the H&R Block tax software can import taxes from previous years from other companies like TurboTax as well as your 1099s.
H&R Block, like many of the tax preparation companies, allows you to file your federal tax return for free. State returns are a separate cost. We found H&R block to be a bit expensive on the low end but their premium package for those needed to file business-related tax returns was priced well. They have more features at a lower cost than TurboTax.
Below you’ll find a list of their standard online prep offerings:
H&R Block Packages and Prices
|Free Edition||Federal: $0
This version is good for basic tax filing which covers the 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040. You can't store your taxes with the free version.
If you're a freelancer that needs a Schedule C-EZ to itemize expenses this might be a good fit for you.
This version is good for those who are self employed, have rental property or run a small business. It allows you to file a Schedule E.
As mentioned above the H&R Block software goes a long way towards making it easy to file. But if you’re unable to find what you need in the knowledge base you can get live help. Both the Deluxe and Premium packages come with online chat with a tax pro (sorry free users, you’re on your own here). There is also an add-on called Best of Both for $40. This gets you a review from a tax pro to make sure everything is looking good.
You’re welcome to stop into one of their store locations for help but keep in mind this will cost extra. The packages currently do not include store visits and you’ll have to pay the going rate. Still, it’s nice to know that they are there just in case things go really wrong.
Getting audited, or even the fear of being audited, by the IRS is not something many people want to think about. Many tax prep companies offer some protection but it’s important to know what you’re paying for. Audit support generally means they will guide you through what to expect and help you prepare. Audit defense includes actual legal representation.
Worry-Free Audit Support is a combination of the two, offered by H&R Block for $19.99. It includes IRS correspondence, preparation, and in-person defense. We can’t really tell you whether to take it or not but it may be worth it if you have any reason to believe you may get audited.
Getting Your Refund
You can get your refund direct deposited into your bank account or sent as a paper check in the mail. You can also have it applied to your next year’s taxes or have the IRS purchase U.S. savings bonds with your refund.
H&R Block also has a prepaid MasterCard that you can have loaded with your refund. If you are using a paid version you can pay for it out of your refund but there is a charge for this ($34.95 if it comes out of federal or $13 if it comes out of state). We’d avoid this option unless you have no other way to pay for it.
H&R Block Reviews From Around the Web
|Better Business Bureau||3.71/5 - 93 Reviews|
Business Contact and Profile for H&R Block, Inc.
|Name:||H&R Block, Inc.|
|Address:||1 H And R Block Way
Kansas City, MO 64105-1905
|Type of Business:||Tax Return Preparation|
|Principal:||Jeffrey J. Jones II, CEO|
|BBB Accreditation:||This organization is BBB accredited - A+ rating|