As you sit down to enter your taxes, you may have trouble deciding which online tax filing service is best: TurboTax or H&R Block? Which is cheaper and which will give you the biggest refund?
If you’re having a hard time picking the winner when it comes to TurboTax vs. H&R Block, then read on to find out which one is the champion.
TurboTax is a product of Intuit, a major finance software company. Intuit is known for Mint.com, an online personal finance tracking app, and QuickBooks, a popular bookkeeping and accounting software for small businesses.
Users of Mint and QuickBooks may find TurboTax a little more intuitive and user-friendly. They can also take advantage of some import options between the programs. TurboTax has been continuously ranked as the number one best-selling tax software in the U.S. for over 25 years.
The large accounting firm H&R Block is responsible for the creation of its software that goes by the same name. H&R Block also has offices located around the country.
Over the years, this company has pivoted from offering only in-office tax filing to a company focused on both DIY taxes and an option to go into an office. H&R Block claims they have more ways to file for free than TurboTax.
H&R Block vs. TurboTax: Which is best?
I’ve used both H&R Block and TurboTax to file my taxes over the last three years. I used H&R Block for 2014 and 2015 and switched to TurboTax in 2016 to give it a try. Here’s what I found when comparing TurboTax vs. H&R Block.
The first thing to consider when deciding between TurboTax or H&R Block is the cost. Depending on the complexity of your return, both TurboTax and H&R Block offer Basic, Intermediate, and Deluxe versions.
For the Deluxe version, TurboTax charges $34.99 plus $39.99 per state. H&R Block Deluxe runs $34.99 plus $36.99 per state. While H&R Block is slightly cheaper, they are so similar in price that it wouldn’t be the deciding factor in most cases.
Winner: H&R Block (by $3)
Both TurboTax and H&R Block offer a maximum refund guarantee. While the guarantees are worded a little differently, the basic gist is if you can get a higher refund using another program or an accountant, the company will refund the cost of your purchase.
However, the only way to know which will yield the biggest refund is to complete your taxes with both programs, which is a huge hassle for most filers. It took me more than three hours to enter all of my tax forms into both, and I already had everything gathered together when I sat down!
Both TurboTax and H&R Block allow you to enter your taxes into the program and view your results before paying. You only have to pay when it’s time to file. This does give you the option to compare the two before filing.
At the end of the day, both programs are excellent and created by tax experts who know what they’re doing.
Therefore the refund you receive – if you get one at all – will be comparable regardless of your choice between TurboTax or H&R Block. You can trust both to do a good job if you enter everything correctly.
Ease of use
With similar pricing and refund expectations, the decision on TurboTax vs. H&R Block comes down to the user interface. Both tax programs are designed with their users in mind and are easy to follow.
What’s more, both programs offer similar features and abilities to add and edit information on your return. However, the TurboTax user interface is a bit better than the H&R Block one. In my experience using both, TurboTax is a little more intuitive and a bit faster.
TurboTax offers easy-to-follow prompts, like the one below asking about the most common scenarios for tax filers. After checking off a category, it is added to your input flow and asks you additional questions.
Compare this to the screenshot below of H&R Block’s W-2 information page. During my tax filing experience with them, everything worked just fine. But, I did have a few frustrating moments when I had a form and couldn’t figure out where to enter the information. That didn’t happen with TurboTax.
Overall, with both entry screens, you are given very clear instructions. And, both programs offer easy prompts and questions.
However, I liked TurboTax better thanks to its intuitiveness, user interface, and the ability to quickly find and change information.
Support and audit defense
Both H&R Block and TurboTax offer varying levels of support and audit defense for tax returns filed with their respective programs.
TurboTax has a robust online help and support section, but if you want help from a human on your return, H&R Block is stronger in this area.
H&R Block also offers free in-office support in the event of an audit. While the odds of being audited are minuscule, this is a huge benefit and why I picked H&R Block when I started doing my taxes.
H&R Block gives you the flexibility to add an in-person review with a tax expert for $39.99 once your taxes are complete. This allows you to make sure you did everything right and ask any questions you may have.
You can also ask questions online and receive answers from H&R Block tax experts at no charge. Replies are quick but not instant; they were quite good about getting back to me.
However, when I filed my taxes with TurboTax, I didn’t have the same types of questions come up that I did with H&R Block. My taxes were not simpler for 2016, but the TurboTax flow and process didn’t leave me with many questions. If I did have questions, I was able to quickly find a resource from the TurboTax library to keep me moving forward.
Both products offer premium audit defense as an upsell. TurboTax charges $44.99 and H&R Block charges $19.99.
Winner: H&R Block
Is TurboTax better than H&R Block?
Both TurboTax and H&R Block are outstanding programs. Depending on your needs, either one could be best for you.
With high-quality tax returns and a maximum refund guarantee from both, the decision comes down to a preference for a better online experience or better in-person support.
If you prefer self-service and want the easiest, fastest online experience, TurboTax is the winner. But if you prefer getting a little extra help in-person, H&R Block is superior.
You should also consider your personal preferences. If you have been using one program for a long time, sticking with what you know will probably serve you best.
The bottom line: you can rest easy with either option. If you’re doing your taxes for the first time, check out our complete guide for tax newbies.