H&R Block Free File Review
Long respected as a haven for taxpayers seeking low-cost professional assistance with tax preparation, H&R Block offers a selection of comprehensive tax prep software for the do-it-yourself crowd. The most economical is a free online program available only through the IRS website to taxpayers 52 or younger who made up to $57,000 last year. It lets residents of many states file both federal and state returns at no charge. For states that don't qualify, the filing fee is $14.95 -- still cheaper than with the free edition you'll find on the H&R Block website. While that version comes with one free federal e-file, users must pay $27.95 to prepare and electronically file a state return.
Prices are even higher for more complex online software packages, as well as desktop software you can download or buy on a CD. In H&R Block reviews, some consumers say they favor the desktop software over online tax preparation, because they don't like the idea of inputting their personal information via the web. The desktop versions also let you e-file up to five federal returns and print unlimited copies, whereas you can prepare and file only one federal return with the online software. Note that if you downloaded the software last year, you can upgrade to this year's version for free.
The free H&R Block software available online is best suited for filers with very basic tax situations, rather than taxpayers who are self-employed or reporting investment or rental income. It earns the top spot among free software providers at Reviews.com, where an expert cites the exceptionally large range of supported forms and schedules in an H&R Block review. Online users who want to import last year's return will need to upgrade to the basic version for $19.95; e-filing a state return costs an additional $34.95. The deluxe version ($29.95) is designed for homeowners and investors.
All of the company's tax preparation products include free audit support, which means an H&R Block agent will represent you if you're audited. This is another selling point that comes up often in H&R Block reviews. The software guides you through each step of the tax preparation process and double checks for any errors you might have made. You can browse the website's tax tips section, check out the FAQs, and query a tax professional through an online message board. Calling in with questions is free, although the wait may be long as April 15 approaches. Even the free edition includes one live tax-advice session via video, phone, or chat with an H&R Block representative who can review your documents with you.