It’s tax season, and you’re probably sick of all the tax software advertisements.
A new contender is competing for their share of the market every year, and they all claim they’re better than the rest.
H&R Block isn’t new to the game. They’ve long been a trusted resource for tax prep solutions.
Putting the focus on user experience, the clear navigation and easy-to-understand explanations make H&R Block’s DIY software stand out.
With so many options, it can still be hard to choose.
This guide is here to help you decide which tax preparation service is best for your budget and your circumstances.
Let’s dive in.
Tax Preparation Software Overview
If you’re agonizing over what tax program is best for you, we have the answer.
Here’s a quick overview of the best features of each to help make your decision easier.
Instead of putting it off, you can meet the tax filing deadline with plenty of time to spare.
|Free version||Free 1040
*Includes Schedules 1-6.
|Free 1040||Free 1040||Free 1040|
|Cost for filing state returns||$36.99||$0 with Free edition.
All others are $39.99.
|$0 with Free edition.
$19.95 with Basic+
$39.95 with Deluxe+ and Premier+.
|$0 with Free edition.
All others are $29.99.
|Live customer support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Audit support guarantee||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
H&R Block Overview
H&R Block has a loyal following of customers.
Their free online filing is better than most, especially since it offers forms and deductions that other brands make you pay extra for.
H&R Block’s free service also works for those with child and dependent care expenses, student loan interest deductions, and health coverage exemptions.
Answering a few simple questions lets you know if the free service is a good fit. If not, it gives you a recommendation on which product is right for you.
For instance, homeowners and filers with a health savings account deduction will benefit from the Deluxe package. It’s an affordable upgrade at $29.99.
Freelancers, investors, and filers who are self-employed or run a small business can upgrade to a Premium or Self-employed plan.
For these, you’ll pay from $49.99 to $79.99 to file online.
With H&R Block, you can import last year’s returns to make data entry a breeze. If you get stuck, there’s unlimited live chat support from a tax expert throughout the process.
Plus, a Tax Pro Review will put your returns in front of a tax professional to double check your forms for $119.99.
H&R Block vs. TurboTax
TurboTax has a free version that gets the job done for filers with simple tax returns. The Q&A interview finds deductions for you.
If you need it, help is easy to find with a searchable knowledge base and video tutorials.
Like H&R Block’s software, TurboTax has the option to upload a photo of your W-2. If you do, your information will automatically enter into the right forms.
For a more comprehensive approach, the Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed plans can help. They have more options to maximize your deductions and credits, but they aren’t free.
Prices start from $39.99 and go up to $89.99. If you own a home or rental property, have investments, or need to claim business income and expenses, you’ll do well to stick with a paid solution.
Where TurboTax shines is in their user-friendly features. Customers praise the interview-style question and answer interface. The simplified approach means beginners will feel at ease with TurboTax.
H&R Block vs. TaxAct
TaxAct got an upgrade this year, and you’ll like the changes.
The new color palette and layout are pleasing, and the site is easier to use, too.
The free filing support form works with W-2 income from an employer and retirement income. It includes Form 1040 since the IRS discontinued use of Form 1040EZ and 1040A in 2018.
You’ll upgrade to Basic+, Deluxe+, or Premier+ if you have dependents, investments, or real estate.
With prices from $9.99 to $39.99, their paid solutions are still affordable. Basic+ limits tax pro support to the in-program email function, but upgrading to Deluxe+ has unlimited phone support.
For the advantage of a dedicated phone line to contact a tax pro, Premium+ gives you the ultimate peace of mind.
Independent contractors, sole-proprietors, and self-employed filers pay $59.99, which is a little more. This Self-Employed+ edition has step-by-step guidance for personal and business income and expenses.
Additionally, TaxAct can estimate your tax bill and help you avoid self-employment tax penalties. If you’re a self-employed filer, you’ll appreciate this year-round support for quarterly taxes.
The best feature of the free filing option is not having to pay extra for state returns. But for the paid plans, you’ll pay up to $39.99 to file a state return on top of the federal filing fee.
TaxAct isn’t the cheapest online tax filing service, though it still costs less than H&R Block.
H&R Block vs. TaxSlayer
TaxSlayer has a simple pricing structure with five online filing choices: Simply Free, Classic, Premium, Self-Employed, and Ultimate. Entering information is easily done from your laptop or phone.
Simply Free includes a state tax return at no charge, but you’ll pay if you need to file in more than one state. It’s a perfect solution for students, singles, or if you’re married filing jointly.
If you have dependents or want to claim deductions or credits, you can upgrade to a paid option. But the Classic edition is affordable at only $17 and gives you access to most of what you’ll need.
There is one exception, and that’s if you’re self-employed. The slightly more expensive Self-Employed plan is $47 and will open up 1099 and Schedule C support for business income and expenses. With it, a tax pro that specializes in self-employed situations is available to help you.
For additional protection, such as audit assistance and support for tax-related questions, Premium or Ultimate plans are available.
The $37 Premium package has three full years of IRS audit assistance, live chat, and priority support by phone and email.
Ultimate is the gold standard and comes in at $57. It delivers audit defense with representation, identity protection and restoration, front-of-the-line tax support, and access to a tax professional.
TaxSlayer is an excellent choice for at-home tax preparation but lacks comprehensive educational tools and guides that you get with H&R Block.
If you’re a first-time filer, it isn’t a perfect option. But it’s simple and straightforward if your tax situation isn’t overly complicated.
H&R Block is a seasoned software with extensive educational tools. It helps you get the most when filing your taxes, though it’s pricier than TaxSlayer if you venture outside of the free-filing option.
TurboTax typically has the best support and is great for guidance and tax support tools.
TaxAct’s Premier+ takes it a step further with the option of dedicated-line phone support from a tax professional.
For tax preparation, you can’t go wrong with H&R Block, TurboTax, TaxAct, or TaxSlayer.
They’re all excellent options, though some have better support and friendlier user experiences.
H&R Block’s online tax filing is a quality option, but it comes down to pricing and features that best suit your circumstances.
Don’t wait until the last minute to search for a program and file your taxes this year.
Instead, use this guide to help you pick the best tax software for you.