It’s almost mid-March, and you’re probably thinking it’s finally time to do your taxes.
And then that H&R Block slogan pops into your head: Get your taxes won. Followed by an image of Mad Men’s Jon Hamm looking dashing in those H&R Block commercials.
The funny thing is, I actually do feel like I got my taxes won this season. Thanks to the H&R Block free file service, I filed my federal and state taxes for free and even received a sizable refund.
Wondering if this tax preparer service is right for you? Take a look at the following H&R Block review below to find out.
H&R Block review
How much does H&R Block cost?
There are three different versions of H&R Block’s online tax software: Free, Deluxe, and Premium. Prices increase depending on how complicated your tax returns are and how many deductions you have. If your tax return is uncomplicated, you should have no problem using H&R Block free file.
If you’re looking to get the most deductions, H&R Block recommends the Deluxe version for $34.99. Or, if you’re an investor or small business owner, you should go with the Premium service for $54.99.
What do you get with each H&R Block version?
The online layout for H&R Block is pretty intuitive and easy to use.
I was a little worried about inputting all my tax information for the first time with a new online servicer. But the data security features included with all three versions put me at ease.
Here’s a breakdown of what you get with each kind of software:
Free edition ($0)
This is the version I used when I filed with H&R Block. I didn’t have home mortgage interest deductions or real estate taxes for my Schedule A portion, but they do offer guidance when entering in that information.
You can also import last year’s tax return from TurboTax, TaxAct, or any other tax prep company. Or, snap a pic and import it as a PDF.
However, I tried to upload a picture of my 2015 tax return, and it wouldn’t read my PDF file after multiple attempts. Maybe the picture I snapped of my 2015 paper tax return wasn’t good enough. Regardless, I had to manually enter all of my 2015 tax return information.
Additionally, H&R Block has a section dedicated to entering your Earned Income Tax Credit info for free. You can also import your 1095‑A health care info, 1099‑INT, 1099‑R, and 1099‑DIV.
One of my favorite parts of the H&R Block free file edition is the Refund Reveal™ feature (which I’ll expand on below). It easily explains why and how your refund changes each time you input new information.
What’s more, there’s step-by-step Q&As and guidance on more than 350 credits and deductions, as well as access to technical support via chat.
Deluxe edition ($34.99)
With the Deluxe edition H&R Block tax software, you get everything in the free edition plus even more support and storage features.
For instance, you can automatically import your tax return filed the previous year by H&R Block. You can also store and access your tax return for up to six years.
Unlimited expert tax advice via chat and technical support by phone is also available to Deluxe users. And if you’re a freelancer or independent contractor garnering income and simple expenses, you can file your Schedule C-EZ with H&R Block.
If you gave a sizable amount to charity in the past year, the Deluxe edition has DeductionPro®, which values and optimizes those deductions.
I believe full-time freelancers will benefit from this version to ensure everything is filed correctly. Keep in mind that $34.99 for the H&R Block Deluxe version is the same price TurboTax is charging for essentially the same additional services.
Premium edition ($54.99)
With the premium edition, you get everything that’s included in the Free and Deluxe editions. There’s also a plethora of investment and business features.
You can import and file your 1099‑B investment income and include your cost basis. You can also file your Schedule D items like stocks, bonds, and capital gains and losses.
With the Premium edition, you can determine the cost basis of financial events like a home sale, dividend, gift, and inheritance assets. So if you experienced any of these events in the past year, this feature will help you properly file for them.
This H&R Block tax software version also offers a filing option for rental property income and tax deductions for your Schedule E.
If you’re filing self-employment and small business income – as well as business tax deductions and asset depreciation for your Schedule C – this version covers that. Additionally, you can file personal partnership or S corporation income, estate, or trust income with your Schedule K‑1.
What’s it like using H&R Block tax software?
I was blown away by how easy it was to use H&R Block free file. Remember, this was my first time filing my taxes on my own online; I had previously used my father’s tax accountant.
When you first get to the H&R Block tax filing site, you select any situations that best describe you. This helped me determine which software version to use. Then I created an account with login information, shown below.
Once I created an account, H&R Block asked me a series of questions since they didn’t have my 2015 tax return. For instance, if someone could claim me as a dependent or if I owned a home.
As I mentioned previously, I had to manually input my information since I wasn’t able to upload my previous tax return.
However, if you already have a PDF from a tax preparer, you might not have any issues. Here’s what the process looks like below.
Importing W-2 information
Maybe I think this is cool because it was my first time e-filing, but H&R Block was able to upload my W-2 information electronically from my company’s payroll.
It’s also helpful for individuals like myself who had more than one employer the previous year.
Finding deductions and support
Even with the Free edition, I received a lot of support and guidance when it came to deductions. During my H&R Block free file, they asked me questions like whether I paid student loan interest in 2016 or contributed to a retirement account.
I also had the option to look at my adjustments and deductions summary, and see what was allowable to me. What’s more, H&R Block figured out which tax credits I was eligible for.
Here’s something to note for the H&R Block tax software Free edition concerning retirement accounts. When it was time to enter my IRA information, H&R Block asked what financial institution I use so they could immediately receive my info electronically.
I have a Rollover IRA with Fidelity, so I clicked that box. But for some reason, H&R Block wasn’t able to retrieve my info, so I had to manually input it instead.
Throughout the filing process, H&R Block would check in occasionally to see how I was doing. It was almost as if there was an actual tax accountant walking me through everything.
H&R Block also did a good job of directing me to their help center in case I had any questions throughout my tax filing process.
And if I ever had to step up away from my computer, I could pick up right where I left off with my tax filing.
Another feature that was helpful for me, especially as a first-time e-filer, was the H&R Block accuracy review.
Before I officially filed my federal and state tax returns, H&R Block double-checked my work to make sure everything was correct. So I never really worried about being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Here’s a screenshot of what that looked like.
After I entered all my information, H&R Block stated that the standard deduction for my federal tax returns was best for me (which didn’t surprise me).
Then it was time for my favorite part, H&R Block’s Refund Reveal feature. I got a summary of how everything shook out during my federal tax return filing. I could see my adjusted gross income, taxable income, adjustments, credits, and taxes I owed.
After the big federal tax refund reveal, my next step was filing my state return. It was a pretty seamless transition. H&R Block transferred information from my federal return to my state return, a standard feature for most online tax preparation services.
H&R Block noted I am a California resident and offered a variety of information for filing a California state tax return.
After asking how long I had been in California to determine residency status, I zoomed through the state tax return process. Then I was ready to file my state and federal tax returns.
Before I finished filing, H&R Block did a final check on everything. Based on what service you select, you pay for your tax prep, then choose how to get your refund before you officially file.
After I finished filling, I had the option of printing my 2016 tax returns or downloading a PDF.
How do you get your tax refund?
You can choose to receive your tax refund electronically, by mail, or even have it split up into different bank accounts. Or, if you have a balance due to the IRS, H&R Block can put your refund towards that.
After you file your state and federal tax returns H&R Block emails you confirming the IRS has received both. You can check on the status of your refund via your H&R Block account or by going directly to the IRS’ Where’s My Refund? page online.
H&R Block review: pros and cons
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my experience using the H&R Block free tax file option free tax file option. There were no surprises, curveballs, or additional costs incurred during my filing process.
Since I didn’t have many deductions or applicable tax credits, I was able to file my federal and state tax returns in just a few hours. I felt secure giving H&R Block my financial information. I was also confident in the fact that I would get the best refund possible.
However, H&R Block does try to upsell you on additional services right before you finish filing. From what I could tell, these services are not included with the H&R Block Deluxe or Premium versions either.
For example, a tax professional can review your returns before you file for $39.99. Or you can sign up for H&R Block Worry-Free Audit Support for $19.99. You can also store your return with H&R Block for six years for $14.99.
If you are interested in any of these services, take the time to comparison shop and look at other tax preparation services. It might be worth it to pay for the extra features with H&R Block or go with another servicer altogether.
Getting in touch with H&R Block
If you need support during your tax filing process, unlimited live chat is available from H&R Block with the online Deluxe and Premium editions, as well as all software products. For technical support, you can call 1-800-HRBLOCK (1-800-472-5625).
You can also get free access to the online H&R Block Community. It’s filled with questions from taxpayers and answers from tax professionals. Alternatively, you can find an H&R Block office near you and schedule an appointment.