H&R Block, widely seen in the top tier of tax software offerings, can help with the more-complicated returns. The company offers a compelling product and service pairing, whereby they offer to combine their online tax software with their extensive network of tax professionals.
The bundled product and service offering allows you to begin working with the software at home to prepare your return and then opt to visit a local H&R Block tax professional at any point in the process should you need in-person assistance.
- Offers self-directed tax software with in-person or phone-based support
- Over 12,000 branches available nationwide for you to make an appointment with a tax professional
- Offers Refund Advance loan on a prepaid debit card to give you access to your tax refund the same day you file
H&R Block Review
H&R Block offers a good tax software to consider if you feel you can handle preparing your return on your own but also desire having the safety of knowing you can ask a question if you cannot find an answer. The deluxe version of the software falls in the same product tier as TurboTax and offers a competitive advantage TurboTax cannot match: in-person tax preparation assistance or tax return drop off. Depending on your tax professional needs, in-office visits start at $69.
H&R Block Overview
This H&R Block tax software review will go over the most important things you need to know if you’re considering this product.
H&R Block has become a global consumer tax services provider, having prepared more than 720 million tax returns by and through retail locations and digital solutions since 1955. The company boasts approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail locations in the U.S.
In fact, the company claims to have an H&R Block branded retail office location within five miles of 95% of Americans, providing access to more than 70,000 tax professionals.
H&R Block offers a free version which features more robust options than the other free tax software options we reviewed. This tax software one allows you to claim the child and earned income tax credits, student loan interest, and retirement and Social Security income. Additionally, the software allows you to upload PDFs of your tax forms to make the data input part of the tax return quick and simple.
H&R Block Pros –
- Self-guided tax preparation with on-demand support. Offers the chance to do your own return but has in-person professional help available as needed for a fee. If you want to try preparing your own return but prefer a safety net available to catch you.
- Flexibility with how to receive your refund. Offers Refund Advance Loans on debit cards to tax filers who will receive a return but may need money sooner. This is a valuable product offering for filers who claim the earned income tax credit and must otherwise wait until mid-February to receive their refunds.
- Most functionality seen in free version. In the tax software options we reviewed, H&R Block’s inclusion of Schedules 1-6 is the only one we managed to find. This puts free federal tax return preparation in the hands of more tax filers.
H&R Block Cons –
- More expensive than most competitors. Much like TurboTax, the enhanced functionality and service offerings comes with a price. However, the powerful software offers valuable services for tax filers.
- Tax professionals don’t come for free. For basic tax preparation assistance available in-office, services start at $69. Depending on your needs, this can be a step price to pay if you have a simple question to answer.
H&R Block Review 2020, Packages and List Prices
Package Prices & Description
H&R Block's free federal version allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free, in addition to Schedules 1-3. This is the only free version I reviewed which offers these schedules.
This option works for people who don’t have complex filing situations and do not plan to claim any deductions or credits other than the standard deduction, the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit.
Good option for filers who itemize, though lacks included functionality to handle more complex returns, like those for active investors, landlords or filing a Schedule C-EZ (for freelancers with very simple expenses).
The Premium package is the Deluxe version plus added capability for reporting investments (capital gains and losses) and rental income (Schedule D or Schedule E). Independent contractors filing Schedule C-EZ also can use this package.
Provides all functionality of the Premium version plus added deduction help and expense-tracking features for freelancers, independent contractors and side-hustlers. This version also imports Uber driver tax information and integrates with the expense-tracking app Stride Tax.
Consult with a Tax Professional In-Person or Over the Phone
H&R Block offers you the ability to sit down with a tax professional who will help you better understand your taxes. These tax professionals will provide advice on how to maximize your return by finding tax deductions and credits you may have overlooked or not known about. They also take into account how taxes will impact your retirement (e.g., by reviewing Traditional and Roth IRAs).
Refund Advance Loan
Refund Advance loans are no-interest loans which are repaid with your tax refund. The product is available from January 4, 2020 to February 29, 2020, to H&R Block clients by Axos Bank and available in five loan amounts ($250, $500, $750, $1,250, and $3,500).
The Refund Advance product is a loan made against your tax refund, which acts as collateral. Stated here explicitly, the Refund Advance loan product is not your tax refund.
The company advertises that it levies no finance charges nor loan fees for the Refund Advance loan product. However, it does state applicants are subject to prequalification, a process where the company evaluates your creditworthiness based on multiple criteria (credit scores, tax situation from last year, etc.).
The company states in applying for the Refund Advance loan, you will not receive any impact on your credit score. Axos Bank may review your credit report as part of your application but it will not impact your credit.
If approved, you will receive money the same day you apply and have it placed on the H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Debit Card Mastercard.
Flexible Options for Your Refund
H&R Block offers Refund Transfer, an offering provided by Axos Bank. The services are a convenient and secure way to receive your tax refund.
It offers to transfer your refund via direct deposit to your existing checking or savings account (or even into an “FDIC-insured Refund Account”), disbursed by check, or loaded onto an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard.
However, make sure you read the fine print on these offerings. Be sure to read the fine print on these offerings, however, Federal Refund Transfers cost $39.95 and paper checks cost $25 for disbursement.
If you discover an error in the H&R Block tax preparation software which entitles you to a larger refund or smaller liability, H&R Block will refund the software fees you paid to prepare your return and you may use the software to amend your return at no additional charge. As a note, other tax software providers also offer to refund the difference found between the programs.
How H&R Block Compares
|Pricing Options*||Import Return into Tax Software?||Service & Support||Audit Assistance|
(+$39/state for DIY)
TurboTax Live Assisted (Full Service):
Basic: $0 ($169)
Deluxe: $89 ($219)
Premier: $139 ($329)
Self-Employed: $169 ($359)
(+$49/state for Live Assisted / Full Service)
Simple tax returns free
|Yes; may import PDF of return from previous software||24/7 live support||Provides basic audit support for all returns and personalized audit assessment with Premier|
Simple tax returns free
|Allow for a W-2 photo import; can import previous year’s return information from H&R Block on all non-free versions||Phone and live chat; in-person assistance at branch network||Peace of Mind®, In-person audit support|
(+$39.95/state for Free;
$44.95 for Deluxe and Self-Employed)
Simple tax returns free
|Yes, may import last year’s tax information or third-party software information. May import PDF files of IRS forms from TurboTax and H&R Block||Live support via phone call after submitting help request||Audit Defense services|
Simple tax returns free
|May upload PDF of previous year’s return;|
pulls in data automatically if used TaxSlayer previous year
|Email or phone, FAQs, video tutorials, definitions of key terms. Priority support for Premium an Self-Employed plans||Audit protection included in Premium and Ultimate plans|
(+$22.49 for each additional state return)
Simple tax returns free
Cash App Taxes
|Free, no fees||No||Support Library, no live support offered||Provided|
|* Prices subject to change; consult individual sites for most accurate and updated pricing.|
The Bottom Line
H&R Block remains in the top tier of tax preparation software. The paired product and service offering provides good filing options at reasonable prices and most importantly, access to over 70,000 tax professionals at 12,000 office locations around the U.S.
This tax software is best-suited to those who need high-touch tax preparation services or who want to do it themselves but have the security knowing they can talk to someone face-to-face to address their questions or concerns.
About the Site Author and Blog
In 2018, I was winding down a stint in investor relations and found myself newly equipped with a CPA, added insight on how investors behave in markets, and a load of free time. My job routinely required extended work hours, complex assignments, and tight deadlines. Seeking to maintain my momentum, I wanted to chase something ambitious.
I chose to start this financial independence blog as my next step, recognizing both the challenge and opportunity. I launched the site with encouragement from my wife as a means to lay out our financial independence journey and connect with and help others who share the same goal.
I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed in this post at the time of this writing. Any recommendations made by me are my own. Should you choose to act on them, please see the disclaimer on my About WealthUp page.