H & R Block Online Tax Filing Review
H & R Block is one of the names that many Americans know. They have their distinctive green square everywhere when tax season comes near. They are so well known nationally that even small towns have stand-alone shops set up.
In addition to being an in person tax agency, H & R Block 2016 also has very popular online tax filing programs and free tax calculators.
They have created software’s that are suitable for tax situations of all sizes. These software’s can be ideal for those who don’t want to waste time waiting in an office or want to avoid having to pay an arm and a leg for the “in person” experience.
H &R Block’s discount pricing is considered one of the most affordable. They always recommend their online services for those who are on a budget and have basic tax knowledge.
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Plans, Pricing, and Features
H & R Block uses an interview style when it comes to helping home filers prepare their federal and state returns. The process is thorough too, so you can rest assured that you are completing everything correctly and claiming all of the deductions and credits that you are eligible for.
When you are first starting out, you have four pricing plans to choose from. You can start with the free plan, but if you need to do something that the plan does not cover, you will promptly be directed to upgrade in order for you to continue your return.
Below are the four plans that H & R Block has available.
Free Plan: This version is very basic and is suggested for those who have simple tax returns. You can itemize deductions and report your ordinary dividend or interest income. However, you cannot import prior years and you are unable to calculate or claim the EIC, (Earned Income Credit).
Lastly, while it is free to file your federal return, you have to pay $9.99 to do your state return. See the Free Plan features below:
- Itemized Deductions: You can file Schedule 1040A and if you are unsure if you need to itemize or not the interview questions can help you decide.
- Schedule B Support: If you have more than $1500 in ordinary dividend or interest income, you will probably have to file a Schedule B. This version provides support including checking for relevant credits and deductions.
- W-2 Importing: You can import unlimited W-2’s and record all of your W-2 income.
- Affordable Care Act Requirements Support: You will be asked a series of questions about your health insurance coverage for the tax year. All H & R Block at Home support forms and documentation required to prove that you had coverage for the year, or to handle penalties if not.
- 5% Refund Bonus: If your refund is more than $100, H & R Block offers a 5% bonus when you accept part or all of it as a gift card from several dozen retailers, such as Best Buy and Target (you can select multiple retailers).
Basic Plan: This plan has a ton of similarities to the Free Plan. The major differences are it has better importing capabilities and you can access prior year’s returns. Its free for both federal and state filing with this plan, however, you will have to pay $36.99 per state if you file from your mobile device. It includes all of the free plan features and some additional features too:
- Schedule EIC Support: Those who qualify for the EIC need this version of the software to claim it.
- Access to Past Tax Returns: Access past prepared and filed tax returns with H & R Block for the past six years.
- Past Year Return Importing: Import all of the information from your past years returns from Turbo Tax and TaxACT in PDF form.
- Support for EITC Filers: This version will provide you with everything that you need in order to claim the EITC.
- Mobile Apps: You can use the mobile app to file your tax return.
Deluxe Plan: The Deluxe Plan charges you $24.99 to file your federal return and $36.99 per state return. It is recommended for those with capital gains or losses and those who made charitable donations over $500 in the tax year. It even includes a nice refund bonus. You receive all of the benefits from the Basic plan as well as:
- Support for Charitable Donations: Receive detailed guidance and support for cash and non-cash charitable donations that totaled more than $500.
- Support for Schedule D: Receive support and a walk thru of all of the relevant credits and deductions if you had capital gains or losses from the sale of securities, real property, and other assets.
- 10% Refund Bonus: If you go with the gift card refund, you will receive a 10% increase.
Premium Plan: This plan is recommended for business owners, property owners, self-employed individuals, and anyone else who has a complex tax situation. It costs $44.99 to file your federal return and $36.99 for each state return. It includes the same features as the Deluxe plan and:
- Schedule C Support: If you have to pay self-employment tax, you will have to file a Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ. With this plan, you will get all of the support you need to make sure you are getting all of the credits and deductions that you are eligible for.
- Schedule E Support: If you own and earn income from a rental real estate, you have to file Schedule E. Premium will provide you with support including all of the supplementary forms you need to file and double check for credits and deductions that you are eligible for.
In addition to the standard plans that they have available for customers, H & R Block has introduced some additional features that are beneficial to their customers.
- Free, Live Phone and Chat Support: You can have access to tax professionals and customer support members via phone and live chat. Normally, this is available Monday-Friday from 10am to 10pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm, but during tax season, 24/7 support is available.
- Real Time Refund Updates: As you are preparing your return you will see that your refund amount will go up and down (left sidebar) as new information is added in. In addition to tracking changes in real time, you will also be alerted as to why the changes are made. You can also use their online tax refund calculator to see your refund in advance.
- Create Your Account Later – H & R Block allows you to start your tax return without creating an account. You have to have an account to file and pay, save, return, and exit, but you can test the waters without creating an account.
- In-Person Audit Support – H & R Block offers free in person audit support to all of their customers. They will help you at your local office to understand the notices, gather documents to respond to the audit, review the findings of the audit, and offer guidance for responding. If you are not an H & R Block customer, you can pay a fee for their assistance.
- Pay with Refund – H & R Block allows you to use your refund to pay for their services, so you do not have to pay upfront. However, they do charge a $34.99 processing fee for federal returns and a $13 fee for state returns. In addition, you have to pay the filing fee with the return that it originated from.
- Affordable compared to some alternatives – Thanks to their selection of plans, H & R Block is able to be more affordable than some of their competitors. Discounts can also be found online.
- In-Person audit shows they are confident – If you are audited after using their online or in person services, they provide you with free audit assistance. This shows that they are confident that their services are providing you with accurate returns.
- Refund bonus is unbeatable – With their refund bonus, you can boost your federal refund by up to 10%. In addition to getting your refund in the form of a gift card, you have a wide selection of retailers to choose from too.
- Upfront, detailed information about the Affordable Care Act issues – After you put your personal information in or import your return, you are immediately directed to a series of questions about your health insurance to get the Affordable Care Act out of the way immediately.
- Account creation is not required from the start – While you cannot complete a return without an account, they are allowing you to “try before you buy”.
- You can pay with federal and state refunds – You can avoid paying your fees upfront by paying the appropriate fee with the corresponding refund amount.
- Physical Branches are available – Not only are you able to do live chat and phone support, but if you need in person relations to get your taxes finished, you can easily stop by your local H & R Block branch.
Choosing an online tax preparation program is something that takes careful thinking. You want to make sure that you are doing business with a business that has real people available who have your back throughout the entire filing process and after. Lower your risk of auditing and find filing taxes easier with H & R Block.