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      July 4, 2020

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H&R Block vs TurboTax

Best Tax Software

To help you find the Best Tax Software, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of H&R Block and TurboTax.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Tax Software, please Click Here

What's the best tax software for preparing your federal and state returns? In the past, many taxpayers either tried to slog through the paperwork on their own or spent huge amounts of money to hire a professional tax preparer. Of course, in today's digital age, it should come as no surprise that more than 53 million people use tax software to prepare and file their returns online.

One of the most compelling reasons to use a reputable tax software package is because of the constant changes to tax law. Figuring out what exemptions you qualify for, what income requires you to pay additional taxes, and how to claim any deductions can be challenging and also have a major impact on whether you get a big refund - or owe big time!

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Best Reviews

2020

Tax Software Reviews

5 stars
H&R Block

H&R BLOCK

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Cost:

Free for online basic Federal (W-2, renting instead of owning a home)

Deluxe (homeowners, donations, HSAs) online - $49.99

Premium (freelancers, contractors, investors) online - $69.99

Self-Employed online - $104.99

State returns + filing - $29.99 to $39.99 per state filed

Software also available via CD-ROM

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Over 60 years of experience and more than 800 million tax returns prepared: that's the kind of expertise you get when using H&R Block for your tax preparation. From thousands of brick-and-mortar locations for in-person help to easy-to-use software for preparing your return on your own, this company beats the competition and should be the first one you consider when choosing a package for working on your taxes.

As with most of the top-rated tax programs on the market, H&R Block gives you three ways to take the DIY approach to preparing your return: buy the software as a CD-ROM, download it directly from their website, or use their online portal. Because so many customers are shifting to the online experience, we've focused our review on that option.

Using the H&R Block interface to prepare your taxes is pretty foolproof. You can either follow the steps as suggested by the software, or you can click around in the different sections of your return - Personal Information, Income, Adjustments & Deductions, Credits, etc. - to enter details as you like. For example, some people prefer waiting to prepare their return until they've received all of their tax statements in the mail, while others like to upload those details as they receive them. The choice is yours!

If you're not sure which package you'll need, don't worry. As you answer questions, select the situations that apply to you, and move through the online platform, you'll be told if you need to upgrade to the next level to access the required forms. No surprises here: each step of the way, H&R Block tells you what you'll pay for preparing your return, instead of making you wait until the very end.

What will you pay when using H&R Block to do your taxes online? Take a look:

  • Free Federal. If you just have W-2 income and rent your place of residence, you can probably file your Federal return for free. H&R Block includes more forms than their main competitor, TurboTax, in their free option. You can use this package even if you have student loan interest, child care expenses, or the Earned Income Tax Credit. This plan lets you import your W-2 by taking a picture, and you can get technical support via online chat.
  • Deluxe. If you are a homeowner, you have an HSA to track, or you need to itemize deductions, you'll need to look at this plan. For $49.99, you'll be able to fill out the forms you need for mortgage interest and real estate taxes, use the DeductionPro tool to optimize your donations, and get technical support by online chat or phone.
  • Premium. The $69.99 plan gives you the ability to include freelance income with expenses less than $5000, along with stock sales and/or rental property income. You'll also get access to features like cost/basis calculators and importing expenses from popular apps (e.g. Stride).
  • Self-Employed. You'll want to upgrade to the $104.99 package if you run a small business, including contractor income. This plan lets you factor in home office, depreciation, and vehicle expenses, and gives you access to their Business Booster tool for accurately writing off any startup costs for your work.

All of H&R Block's plans require you to pay for filing any needed State returns. Expect fees ranging from $29.99 to $39.99, depending on which Federal package you select. Overall, this provider's fees are not the least expensive in the industry, but they are lower than their biggest competitor, TurboTax.

Each package also allows you to import previous returns from other tax preparers, making it less likely that you'll enter erroneous information in your current return.

While H&R Block makes it simple to get in-person help at their many office locations, what if you don't have one conveniently located near you, or you work hours that make it hard to get there when they're open? No problem: you can opt into their Tax Pro Review plan. This feature is priced at $144.99, no matter which package level you initially needed (i.e. Deluxe, Premium, Self-Employed), but when compared with what you'd spend to have a tax preparer handle your return from the get-go, you're getting an excellent deal. Tax Pro Review means that your tax return is double-checked, signed, and filed by one of H&R Block's experts (who have an average of 15 years of experience), while allowing you to have protected, private conversations with him or her at your convenience.

As with the majority of the industry's best tax software providers, H&R Block has a maximum refund guarantee, if you enter the same data with any other tax prep program and get a result with a higher refund. Want a little extra bang for your tax return buck? If you opt to put some or all of your refund on an Amazon gift card, you'll get a bonus of 5%.

You're also given audit support if you get a tax notice related to any return you file using H&R Block's program. They will help you understand the process and make suggestions for the steps to follow when responding to the notification. For an additional fee, you can also get in-person audit representation or assistance in preparing your actual response to the IRS or other taxing body.

H&R Block is the ideal tax program for almost anyone, from young professionals preparing their return for the first time to couples filing jointly with lots of business expenses and deductions to track. You won't find any other tax prep platform with the range of features offered by H&R Block - and at such competitive prices. As our first choice among tax software options, this provider is sure to help you prepare your taxes with as much - or as little - professional assistance as you need.

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4.5 stars
TurboTax

TURBOTAX

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Cost:

Free Edition Federal/State - $0

Deluxe Federal - $59.99

Premier Federal - $79.99

Self-Employed Federal - $119.99

State - $44.99 per state filed

Desktop/Downloadable software option also available

Additional fees for having return reviewed by CPAs

When it comes to tax software, few companies have the brand recognition as TurboTax - and for good reason. Every year, their tax prep program adds new, useful features, and their interface is still the easiest to use by far, with simple questions like "Did you own a home last year?" and friendly coaching-style guidance if you have any tricky situations in your taxpayer information.

While TurboTax still offers their tax software as a desktop (CD-ROM) and downloadable program, the majority of its newer users are relying on their online platform to file their Federal and State tax returns. You can find out pricing details about the first two versions on the TurboTax site, and here's what you need to know about their extremely well-rounded, fully-featured online tax software:

  • Free Edition - you'll pay exactly zero dollars to file your Federal AND State returns if your tax situation is simple. Import your W-2, answer simple questions about your life, and TurboTax guarantees they'll get you the maximum refund for which you are eligible. You qualify for this free option if you have limited interest and dividend income, you claim the standard deduction, and your only credits are the EIC and child tax.
  • Deluxe - for $59.99, you can access the first tier of TurboTax's paid tax software programs. If you have mortgage and property tax deductions but not much in the way of investments or rental properties, this plan will meet your needs.
  • Premier - you'll want the $79.99 plan if you have investments (stocks, real estate, etc.) or if you need to account for any cryptocurrency transactions. TurboTax has the great feature of allowing you to automatically import your investment income from thousands of financial institutions.
  • Self-Employed - $119.99 is a solid investment in tax prep software if you're a contractor, freelancer or small business owner. This package gives you free QuickBooks Self-Employed access for tracking expenses, mileage, and jobs. You'll also get help finding industry-specific deductions, a personalized audit assessment, and 1:1 help from self-employment experts.
  • Military Discount - use your military W-2 to verify your rank and get TurboTax for free or at a reduced rate. E1-E5 get free federal and state filing up to the Deluxe level, while E6 and above get a discount of at least $5 on all TurboTax Federal tax software packages.

Although TurboTax doesn't have any in-person offices you can visit to get help with your tax return, they do offer TurboTax Live. This add-on lets you talk to an EA or CPA to get unlimited help and tax advice for the whole year, and reviews of your return. If you're new to preparing your return and want the peace of mind that comes from having your questions answered by a professional, this is a much more affordable option than having one prepare your tax return from start to finish. Fees for the Live service range from $79.99 to $199.99, depending on which package level you select.

Another big plus when you choose TurboTax is their Audit Support Guarantee. If the IRS contacts you about a potential audit, you can get free one-on-one guidance from an experienced tax professional, answers to your questions, and assistance on what to expect and how to prepare.

And, when it comes to free tools, TurboTax is hard to beat. We particularly like Turbo, their complimentary service for all users (even if you don't buy their tax software) that tracks your financial health as reflected by your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and verified income. You can get free financial advice based on your goals, keep all of your credit and loan details in one place, and get suggestions for savings on any interest you're paying. You'll find Turbo and many other resources like tax calculators and expense estimators at the bottom of the main TurboTax website.

You may be wondering why TurboTax comes in second place in our review, given their long-standing reputation on the market and extremely user-friendly interface. This tax software is edged out by H&R Block for two main reasons: cost and in-person help.

Across all package levels, TurboTax is always more expensive by at least $10, including a spendy $44.99 for preparing and filing a State return. And, when you add in the option for having your return reviewed by a live tax professional, TurboTax will probably cost you up to $50 more than their top competition.

And, even though TurboTax has fantastic Live options, some people feel more reassured by knowing that they can go to a local office if they get stuck while preparing their tax return, or if they get an audit notification from the IRS.

TurboTax is still one of the industry's best options for tax software. The platform is well-regarded by customers as the easiest to use for preparing tax returns, and the options offered make it the most well-rounded in the marketplace. We have nothing but love for TurboTax, and recommend it as an excellent choice for tax preparation for most consumers.

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Continued from above

Tax software can save you a lot of time and stress by staying up-to-date on each change made by the IRS, so that your return is accurate to the penny. But with all of the different options out there, how can you decide which tax software is right for you?

Here are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Complexity of Your Return. If you're a small business owner who owns a home and has numerous investments, your return will be much more complicated than a single person with no dependents and renting an apartment. Make sure the tax software you choose fits your situation.
  • Format. Do you need or prefer to have a tax prep program that can be downloaded to a laptop rather than used 100% online? If your internet connection is limited, you may want a program that lets you work offline all or most of the time, with options to file your return on paper as well as via e-file.
  • Live Help. If you're unsure of yourself when putting together your return, you may feel more reassured if you choose a company that offers help in real time from tax professionals. Some services give you that assistance via phone and/or live chat, while others maintain brick-and-mortar offices throughout the US that you can visit in person. Be sure to check if these services are included with the purchase of the tax software or if you'll have to pay extra for them.
  • Cost. What will you spend to prepare and file your tax return? Is it comparable to what you'd pay for tax software on a competitor site? Most services don't include state preparation and filing in their federal tax prep packages, so look for those additional fees if that applies to your situation.

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Tax Software available today. We hope this information helps you choose the right package for your needs, so that you can file your returns accurately and easily!

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