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H&R Block review: A competitive option with special features

If you are filing for an individual, family, or small business, H&R Block may be perfect for you.
Written by Jessica Walrack, Contributor

H&R Block is one of the most popular tax preparation companies in the United States, and it completes nearly one in every seven US tax returns each year. Since 1955, the company's tax software has been used to prepare over 800 million returns in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, as well as other US territories.

You can prepare returns by logging in online or downloading the software to your computer. If you prefer to have your tax return completed for you by a tax professional, H&R Block offers three options: meeting with a tax pro at one of the company's 11,000 locations; dropping off your return at one of the offices; and filing virtually with a tax pro (available beginning January 2022). 

H&R Block at a glance

The company offers four online filing options: Free Online, Deluxe, Premium, and Self-Employed. You can compare each of the filing options here

H&R Block also offers four filing options that require a software download: Basic, Deluxe + State, Premium, and Premium & Business. You can compare the software options here.

What we like about it

H&R Block's tax software offers a comprehensive Basic version, which is one of the best on the market. It has more forms included than many competitors -- about 47 total -- which is about twice as many as TurboTax offers. The company also provides a price preview feature that allows you to see updates as you go, so you can understand how your choices impact your costs.

As for H&R Block's tax professionals, they are well-equipped. Before they can prepare their first return, they undergo 60 hours of training. Furthermore, the average client is served by an H&R professional with more than 12 years of tax prep experience and hundreds of hours of training. So if you need help from a representative, you'll be in good hands.

Things to consider

If your business is considered larger than a small business, H&R Block will most likely not be able to help you prepare your returns. Standards for what constitutes a small business are different across industries and fields. To see if you qualify as a small business, use the Size Standards Table for each industry or the Size Standards Tool from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

If you have a less cumbersome tax return, there are cheaper options. Competitors, such as TaxSlayer or TaxAct, may not offer as many functions or support options, but they will likely save you money on your filing fees.

H&R Block features

H&R Free Online is great if you have a simple 1040 to file, as the free version comes with an abundance of forms. In addition, the free version offers no additional charge for multiple state filings. 

The Deluxe option is the most popular and was rated No. 1 in online tax prep by P.C. Magazine in 2019. If your tax return involves donations, an HSA, or if you are a homeowner, this option will likely work for you. 

The Premium option is the next step up. This one is the best choice if you have rental income, investments, or have sold cryptocurrency.

The Premium & Business option gives you Premium features with additional support for business expenses.

The Self-Employed option is for contractors, gig workers, and other self-employed filers.

If you get a refund, you can have it directly deposited into an account of your choice. If you prefer a paper check in the mail, be aware there is a $25 fee. 

Lastly, if you have any version but the free version, be aware that H&R Block charges a $40 fee to have the filing payment deducted from your federal refund instead of paying with a credit or debit card.

H&R Block help and support

Support is offered in many different capacities. Even if you don't pay for the unlimited help, you still have access to on-demand chat and phone support (unless you file using the completely free option) and community Q&A forums. H&R Block also has a feature directly on its site to check the status of your refund.

With the premium add-on of Online Assist, you receive on-demand live chat and video support plus screen-sharing on any device.

Is H&R Block worth the price?

H&R Block's online software offers multiple tiers with great features along with competitive pricing.

However, filers with more simple tax returns or whose income is under a certain threshold can greatly benefit from the IRS's free file page that lists all the software options you can use to file your federal taxes -- and even state taxes, in some cases -- for free.

[This article originally appeared on The Simple Dollar in March, 2020. It was updated in December, 2021.]

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