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H&R Block 5 Star Rating: Cheapism Best Pick
Where to Buy H&R Block

Available Online From H&R Block.com.

Summary:









H&R Block Free File Requirements

  • Adjusted gross income of $53,500 or less, and
  • 53 or younger, or
  • Eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Supports all common forms
  • Free state e-filing in AR, AZ, GA, IA, ID, IN, KY, MI, MN, MO, MS, ND, NC, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT, WV, and DC


H&R Block Free Edition

  • No income or age requirements
  • Supports itemized deductions, education credits, dependents

Long respected as a haven for taxpayers seeking low-cost professional tax preparation assistance, H&R Block offers a comprehensive selection of online tax prep software. H&R Block reviews generally affirm the company's status as a smart option. Personal finance blog The Simple Dollar says the person-to-person support is a major, and valued, differentiator. Posted comments suggest that H&R Block has refined the software such that it easily walks users through the tax filing process, although product recommendation site The Wirecutter considers the amount of text on each page overwhelming.

The Free and Free File editions of H&R Block's tax software come with support and features that warrant praise. For starters, they include free chat and phone support with tax experts (although wait times may increase as April 15 approaches); most other tax prep software providers charge extra for phone support, if it's even an option. Tech support, on the other hand, is included only with paid editions. All products are backed by in-person audit support as well as guarantees that the calculations are accurate (assuming the input is), with a "maximum refund guarantee" thrown in.

H&R Block Free Edition comes with free federal e-file, but users pay $27.99* to prepare and electronically file a state tax return. Users can import W-2s but not returns from previous years; if you want that time saver you must upgrade to a paid version. The free online version supports itemized deductions, dividends and interest income, and a range of other common forms and schedules, but taxpayers with business or rental income and other more complex situations will be directed to the paid software. Prices start at $19.99 plus $36.99 for each state return filed.

The Free File edition can handle additional complexity but is available only to those who meet the requirements, including adjusted gross income of $53,500 or less. The inclusion of state e-filing at no cost in 21 states and the District of Columbia is a welcome feature. The cost in other states is $14.99, still far cheaper than with the regular Free Edition. Users can also import previous H&R Block, TurboTax, and TaxAct returns.

Refunds can be taken in the form of a check, direct deposit, or a prepaid MasterCard. H&R Block also offers a 5 percent bonus (10 percent for paid editions) for each $100 taken in the form of a store e-gift card from a vendor such as Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, or Gap.

H&R Block is a safe choice for taxpayers with simple returns and/or a preference for personal support. For some more complicated situations, the cost of doing business with H&R Block adds up quickly unless you meet the Free File requirements.


*Prices subject to change.

by Louis DeNicola (Google+ Profile) – February 26, 2015
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