H&R Block provides a range of personal tax preparation services that range from the zero outlay basic edition right on through to sophisticated paid-for variants for those with advanced filing needs. Considering the base level edition costs nothing it’s very impressive and has all the features and functionality you could realistically want.
As with other online services in this sector, the paid for options come with more advanced features as you progress up the scale. There is also a self-employed edition, which comes in as the most expensive of the H&R Block online tax filing versions.
- Want to try H&R Block? Check out the website here
Choosing which online filing version to use is actually pretty straightforward, thanks in the main to the H&R Block website. It’s been designed as a primer that asks you what your requirements are, based on what you do and what sort of financial areas you’re involved in. In that respect it’s similar to others in this area, but it’s an undeniably handy way to make the correct selection.
As a result, and at the time of writing, people who have children, rent to pay and a W-2 should find the Free online (plus $29.99 per state filed) version satisfactory. For $49.99 (plus $39.99 per state filed) a Deluxe online edition is well suited for homeowners, those who make donations and HSAs.
The $69.99 (plus $39.99 per state filed) Premium online version is best for freelancers, contractors and investors. Rounding it out at the top end is the $104.99 (plus $39.99 per state filed) Self-employed online edition that, according to H&R Block is perfectly suited to people working for themselves and small business owners.
Spend a little more, however, and you gain access to Tax Pro Review, which means an expert will check and e-file your return, which is great for added piece of mind. The Free edition has a $49.99 cost, Deluxe $79.99 and both the Premium and Self-Employed versions cost $89.99.
Thankfully, whatever version of H&R Block you use you’ll find that it should have more than enough features to suit your requirements. The page layouts follow a familiar theme with a methodical series of steps to work through that, eventually, get you to the last stage in the process, the filing bit.
Prior to that you’ll work through basic overview screens and move on to Federal and State sections where you’ll be able to enter more personal information as well as details on your income, deductions, credits and everything else needed to produce a complete picture of your current position.
Of course, the bonus if you’ve used the service before is that much of the information gets held in the system, and you should get access to that one you’ve logged in using your username and password.
Being an online service means that there’s not much to go wrong in terms of performance, just as long as your internet connection remains up that is. The wizard-style arrangement of the site design means that there’s very little you need to worry about, especially when it comes to complex IRS topics that might make your progress grind to a halt.
This is where the performance of H&R Block really impresses, as it has been honed to cover changes in legislation. This is particularly useful if you’ve used the service before and need to make sure the current year doesn't pull through the wrong information from previous years.
Ease of use
H&R Block’s online filing system is hardly intimidating as it follows a theme similar to others in the marketplace. After registering and doing all the foundation housekeeping you then progress through the various screens that help build up a picture of your finances.
Overall, the fit and finish of the interface is really pretty good, with not much in the way of areas that can trip you up. The experience is made all the better thanks to practical interface tweaks including the ability to import the details from your W-2, via either a PDF or a digital image of it from your phone, all of which is done securely so your prized personal information isn't compromised.
H&R Block has also been well thought out when it comes to the amount of online help you can get. While some of this assistance becomes available as you progress through the series of screens, there are other areas that contain more advanced information that gets pulled in from a searchable knowledge base.
Thankfully the H&R Block user experience folks have been mindful to help you stay on track while you delve into these knowledge base articles, so it’s easy to emerge from the other side in the same place. Paid-for editions also come with help from live assistants, while the 24/7 chat support adds another level of reassurance for people who’ve got a little bogged down by the process.
Having the ability to share your screen with a live expert can be valuable and saves time, so if you’re in need of a helping hand then it’s worth the additional fees - $39.99 for Free and Deluxe users, or $49.99 for the Premium and Self-Employed editions.
There’s a version of H&R Block for everyone and, no matter which one you choose, all are very well put together. The user experience, even if you’re working with the free online model, is largely stress free too.
It's also good to know that there are plenty of help options available should you need it, even though you’ll need to spend some money if you want to get access to the best there is – a real person.
However, if you’re fairly organized and have your paperwork – digital or otherwise – to hand you can also make perfectly decent use of the built-in help sections of the H&R Block website.
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