H&R Block is one of the most popular tax filing software options today, but is it right for you?
H&R Block allows self-employed individuals and business owners to file their tax returns online.
Moreover, it offers filers an option to have a tax expert review their return before submission.
H&R Block’s interface is straightforward and easy to use; one of its remarkable features is that it gives you step-by-step guidance as you file your taxes.
You can access the software from any device, and you can even visit one of the 12,000 H&R Block offices to have your file reviewed by a tax professional.
H&R Block is a great option, but other tax software may be more advantageous depending on your needs! This is what to look for in H&R Block alternatives.
Read on to see how H&R Block competes with the other best tax software to make the call for yourself.
Comparing H&R Block To Other Tax Software Products
Despite its great features, H&R Block may not suit your specific needs.
Fortunately, there are numerous alternative software options you can try. They include:
Before we dive deeper into what each of these software options has to offer, here's a quick overview:
Free Version Details
The free version lets you file a 1040 and Schedules 1-6, making it ideal for people with uncomplicated taxes.
The free version of TurboTax lets you file a 1040 and a state return provided you don’t itemize. However, you cannot use the free version to file Schedules 1-6.
The free basic version allows you to file a 1040 and your state taxes.
The most limited free version, allows you to file a 1040 and state return if you have no dependents.
Deluxe online tax filing with H&R Block starts at $29.99. You can also make an in-office appointment and receive individualized help for as little as $39.99.
TurboTax offers multiple online options that start at $40. The plan at this price — called Deluxe —comes with guidance to help you maximize your deductions, live customer support, and more.
TaxSlayer’s Classic version starts at just $17. This basic tax program includes features like support with deductions and credits, IRS Inquiry Assistance, and easy online uploads. The top tier Self-Employed software starts at just $47.
TaxAct offers some very cheap entry level tax software, including a basic package for just $29.95. Even their top tier “Premier” tax software costs only $39.95 for federal only.
Breaking Down H&R Block Tax Software
H&R Block offers four pricing options for federal tax filing, namely:
- Free Version - $0
- Deluxe - $29.99
- Premium - $49.99
- Self-Employed - $79.99
The major difference between H&R Block's plans is the tax situations considered during tax return filing.
Here’s a look at some of the features you'll get with H&R Block:
- W-2 import
- Limitless tax advice
- Access to past returns, up to six years
- Stride integration to enable form importation
The software supports the following tax situations, depending on the package you use:
- Child credit expenses
- Earned income credit
- Retirement plan income
- Child tax credit
- Social security income
In comparison to all the alternatives, H&R Block has the most robust free online tax filing option.
H&R Block vs. TurboTax
Both H&R Block and TurboTax offer a free package, covering simple returns.
This package also allows you to file some additional forms and schedules.
With H&R Block’s free package, however, you can file more forms and schedules.
You’ll also enjoy filing more state returns without paying a dime, while TurboTax’s free package only allows you to file one free state return.
For both providers, the Deluxe package includes deduction-finding tools, help with charitable donations, and access to tax professionals through online chat.
With TurboTax’s Deluxe package, you can file Schedule SE, Schedule C and Schedule C-EZ if you want to report your business income but don’t have any expenses to report.
With H&R Block’s Deluxe package, you can’t file Schedule SE and Schedule C-EZ. You will have to upgrade to H&R Block Premium or the Self-Employed package to be able to file those schedules.
While H&R Block is also easy to use, its questions and explanations can sometimes be confusing.
If you want a a software that's a little easier to use than H&R Block, consider TurboTax. But H&R Block has better pricing in most cases.
H&R Block vs. TaxAct
H&R Block is slightly more expensive than TaxAct beyond the free version.
Nonetheless, if you have to choose between their free versions, H&R Block’s free version may turn out to be a better choice.
It supports 1040 and Schedule A, while TaxAct’s free version supports only 1040A or 1040EZ.
Related: Best Free Tax Software
Both TaxAct and H&R Block are great options with intuitive interfaces that ensure everything runs well so you can spend as little time as possible doing your taxes.
From a customer support perspective, H&R Block would still be a better option, with over 12,000 physical offices across the country.
This can come in handy if you run into trouble and you want face-to-face customer support to get the issue resolved.
You should realize, however, that you’ll need to upgrade to H&R Block Deluxe or Premium to have access to in-person advice.
While TaxAct doesn’t have physical offices to offer face-to-face support, it has a comprehensive knowledge base to search for information about various tax issues. TaxAct also offers free phone and email technical and tax support on business days
Overall, TaxAct seems to offer a better deal, especially if you feel that its support options are adequate for your needs.
Nonetheless, you should take a closer look at H&R Block before you settle for TaxAct.
You may save some money while accomplishing more tasks with H&R Block’s free version thanks to its additional capabilities.
Also, if you need a lot of support, you may decide to pay more and have H&R Block.
H&R Block vs. Tax Slayer
TaxSlayer may be within your budget when it comes to filing your tax returns, but there are several things that aren’t impressive about this tax filing software.
You’ll have to sign up for TaxSlayer Premium to access features that other providers offer in their basic plans.
Nonetheless, TaxSlayer can still get the job done. If you are self-employed or own a small business, TaxSlayer can help you work through deductions and common issues you might encounter.
At its lower price points, TaxSlayer offers basic services at a cheaper cost than its competitors.
That discounted service also comes with fewer bells and whistles, but if savings is what you're after, and if you're familiar with tax filing, you could do well with this software.
And if you do spend more and opt for the Premium version, you get access to features like audit support, identity theft recovery, and more extensive customer support.
But unlike H&R Block, TaxSlayer doesn’t give its users access to a professional tax consultant.
Moreover, TaxSlayer doesn’t allow you to import 1099 forms.
The differentiator here is small business owners. You get access to all of TaxSlayer's forms at their Classic Plan, which can be a significant savings versus H&R Block's Premium or Self Employed Plans.
Which Alternative to H&R Block Is Right For You?
H&R Block is a solid tax filing software that gives you the chance to have your tax return reviewed by a real human in a physical office.
This can help you feel more confident, especially if you are nervous about filing your tax returns.
H&R Block’s pricing starts at $0, thanks to its free edition. Nonetheless, you may still want to look at what other tax filing software options have to offer.
TaxAct and TaxSlayer offer the best value depending on needs, especially if you run a charitable organization, own a small business, and file your own taxes.
TurboTax is another solid option. However, it is a little bit more expensive compared to other services in its class.
It can be a great option for you if you run a small business and mix your business and personal expenses.
Moreover, any self-employed individual who is serious about doing their taxes will find a handy tool in TurboTax Self-Employed.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.