TL;DR: H&R Block Online is a convenient way to file your taxes and has excellent automated features for multiple filing statuses. The free filing option is one of the best in the industry but the paid services have a moderately high price tag.
For many, tax season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Lining up all your financial documents and making sure your calculations are correct is a time-consuming meticulous process.
H&R Block Online is for many the go-to online software for filing taxes. H&R Block is one of the best online tax filing software in the business and has several features for compiling and calculating how much you owe in taxes.
Thinking about using H&R Block for your taxes next year? In this H&R Block review, will take an in-depth look at the software and cover its features, pricing, pros, and cons. We will then give our verdict over whether H&R Block is worth using.
Offers both free and paid tax options
If you find an error you can get your money back and they will cover any penalties and fines.
You can get one-on-one help with a pro, take your returns to a physical location, or browse their knowledge database for answers.
H&R Block Online: Summary
H&R Block Online is the online division of tax preparation company H&R Block. H&R Block was originally founded in 1955 by Henry and Richard Bloch as a brick-and-mortar tax preparation agency. H&R Block was one of the first tax preparation companies to begin to use computers in the 80s and by the early 2000s, they released consumer-facing tax software called H&R Block Signature which eventually turned into the H&R Block Online filing service we know today.
H&R Block Online’s main consumer-draw is how it streamlines the tax preparation and filing process. With H&R Block, you can either manually enter your tax info or upload tax documents, and the software will calculate your federal return or how much you owe. When you are done, the service will e-file your federal and state taxes.
That means you don’t have to go to a tax professional to prepare your documents. H&R Block’s proprietary service will do it for you and help you find the maximum return you are owed. Add in some great convenience features like picture uploads and automatic importation of previous tax information, and you have yourself an extremely easy-to-use service for taxes.
H&R Block Pricing & Features
One of H&R Block’s most useful features is its free filing option. Not only can you file normal W2s, but H&R Block’s free service lets you file the child tax credit, Form 1040, earned income tax credit, and schedules 1,2, and 3. Those last three documents are important if you have to report things like business income, deductible student loan interest, and certain retirement contributions, among others. H&R Block will also keep your tax filing information for three years at no extra charge to you,
If you run a small business or work as a freelancer, then you will most likely need one of H&R’s bigger paid-packages. Paid packages will offer more filing options and allow reporting for more types of income. In general, H&R Block’s paid packages are not cheap, but they are also not the most expensive option out there.
Here is a quick rundown on each package, how much they cost, and what you’ll need them for.
(Note: These prices are current as of this post date, but they may change in the future.)
- Federal – $0
- State – $0
- Basic tax filing (W2, 1040, Schedule 1, 2, 3)
- Federal – $49.99
- State – $44.99
- Itemized deductions and tax credits
- Federal – $69.99
- State – $49.99
- Investors and landlords (Schedule D, E, K-1, 1099-Div, 1099-B, 1099-Int)
- Federal – $104.99
- State: $49.99
- DIY all-in-one software for small business owners, freelancers, and independent contractors.
As you can see, some of the packages do not overlap. For example, if you own a small business and also have outside investments, then you will need the Self-employed and Premium packages.
How Does H&R Block Online Work?
H&R Block has a clean, logical interface that is easy to follow. When you start a filing, you will first be prompted to enter in some information such as your filing status, (single, married, head-of-household, etc.) and basic identifying information (name, address, SSN, etc.).
Once you get to the main filing screen, you can start inputting your basic income information. H&R Block allows you to input information in 3 main ways. You can manually input tax data from documents, upload a compatible document type (PDF), or you can snap a picture and the software will autofill the entries for you.
Once you input your basic income information, you can move on to more specific tax filing requirements. The software will walk you through each step, from filing tax credits to deductions to any other relevant bits of information.
At each step of the process, H&R Block continually updates your refund so you always know exactly how much you owe or are owed. When you are done, the software will do one last check to make sure you are getting the maximum refund. You can then finalize and file your tax returns.
If there is one word that describes how H&R Block works its “streamlined.” The software takes you through each step of the process and double-checks to make sure you h put down all necessary info. If you have one of the paid versions, H&R Block will automatically import your basic information for the previous year’s tax documents. This option is not available in the free version though.
H&R Block Features
Here are some of the useful tax features that H&R Block has. Keep in mind that these features might not be available in all packages.
Tax Refund Options
If you are owed a return then you can set up a direct ACH deposit to a bank account, load the funds onto a prepaid MasterCard debit card or get a paper check. You can also put the refund towards tax preparation services next year or even buy US Savings Bonds. One last option is that H&R Block will up your refund by 4% if you choose to load the funds onto an Amazon card.
One of the more useful tech features is photo import for tax documents. You can take a picture of any document, upload it, and the program will fill out all the boxes for you. This feature saves a lot of time as you don’t have to manually enter the fields and you don’t have to worry about document compatibility issues.
Throughout the process, key phrases and terminology have a “learn more” tag so you can get explanations for concepts without having to Google it. The information is simple enough that you don’t have to be a tax pro to understand but comprehensive enough so you can figure out what to do.
Online Assist is an add-on for any service package. This option costs $49.99 and adds on-demand video access to a human tax pro for assistance and answering questions. This is a great feature if you want to have a human professional on the line for specific questions not in the information bars and FAQs.
H&R Block Online is a cloud-based service so you can access your data from other devices like your phone or tablet. There is also a mobile version but the interface is not as smooth as the web-based application.
If you do misfile your taxes and get audited, H&R Block will offer free audit assistance. You can also buy Worry-Free Audit Support which will put you in one-on-one support for audits. Worry-Free Audit Support costs $19.99 and includes IRS correspondence and in-person audit representation.
H&R Block has a leg up on a lot of tax preparation companies because they have been around so long and have a well-established network of physical branches. You can take your info into a physical branch if you have more specific questions or need more personalized tax assistance. Help at physical locations is not free but it’s good to have a contingency plan.
The company also offers Tax Pro Review, a one-on-one review of your return with a professional. This option can get a bit pricey depending on the time of year. Generally, it gets more expensive as tax time gets closer.
Lastly, you can get free 24/7 live chat support or call by phone. Suffice to say, H&R Block has enough support options that you should be able to get help quickly for any issues you might run into.
H&R Block Guarantee
H&R Block guarantees that its calculations are accurate and that you will get the maximum amount for your refund. If you find an error and you were actually entitled to a larger refund, then H&R Block will return all of your fees for the service. The guarantee does not apply if the discrepancy is due to information provided or your choice to not take a deduction or credit. The return must have been filed in the same year that you are requesting a refund.
Also, if you find an error in your documents and get a fine then H&R Block will cover your penalty fees and interest up to a maximum of $10,000. Lastly, if you are not satisfied with your service and have yet to complete your return, then H&R Block will refund the entire value of your purchase.
Who Should Use H&R Block Online?
H&R Block Online has enough packages and filing options for most investors. The free offering is one of the best for standard filing and has a lot of features other tax software such as TurboTax Free does not include. The paid packages are particularly useful if you are self-employed or have a lot of investments. The only people this tax software is not for those who have complex asset structures and need a more personalized touch.
H&R Block Online Pros & Cons
- Free tax filing for standard documents.
- Streamlined tax preparation services. Following the program is super easy and it will walk you through each portion step-by-step.
- Simplified document entry. You can input info manually, upload a file, or take a photo.
- Multiple filing options. The paid packages have everything a small business owner needs to do their taxes.
- Updates refund calculations in real-time so you always know exactly how much you are getting.
- Maximum refund and accuracy guarantee. If you find an error you can get your money back and they will cover any penalties and fines.
- Excellent support options. You can get one-on-one help with a pro, take your returns to a physical location, or browse their knowledge database for answers.
- Stores the past 6 years of returns.
- Not the cheapest software around.
- Some package features do not overlap.
- Interface is not as smooth as some other software services.
- Lots of upsells
H&R Block offers one of the best free filing services on the market and has a wide range of paid options for more complex filing requirements. The service is streamlined and comes with H&R Block’s signature guarantee. We would highly recommend using H&R Block for your taxes, especially if you only need the free version. The main criticisms that we have are the relatively steep price and add-on requirements to get the most out of the software. However, these cons are clearly outweighed by the pros.