H&R Block Review

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated September 24, 2021

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Personal Finance
January 30, 2020

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

With more than 60 years of experience in the tax industry and 11,000 franchise offices across the country, it’s little wonder that H&R Block is one of the best tax services. Established in 1955, H&R Block has helped its customers prepare and complete 650 million tax returns during that time, with 24 million being prepared last year alone.

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  • Price: H&R Block has three different tiers of service, Easy Filing (free), Deluxe ($29.99), and Premium ($49.99). H&R Block is currently running a sale on all its products.
  • Packages: You can file your federal taxes for free if you have a simple tax return, although H&R Block’s free return includes filing for over 20 documents that competitors won’t allow you to file for free. H&R Block offers the Deluxe package for more complicated filings with deductions, the Premium package if you have investments or rental properties or if you are self-employed or own a business.
  • State filing: State filing is $36.99.
  • Audit protection: H&R Block’s audit protection works similarly to other large online tax preparation services, except you have to pay $30 for it. The service will go over audit letters with you, give you advice, and review your taxes with you along with an explanation of the math and how the taxes were done.
  • Customer service: H&R Block’s phone support comes with all plans, including the Free Federal plan. The other plus for H&R Block is that it has actual offices where you can go talk to a tax expert if you need help. In addition, the website has a great collection of FAQs, forums and tutorials to help filers if they get stuck at any stage during the process.

H&R Block offers you a range of options to choose from, and three ways to file your taxes:

  • File online
  • File at a branch office
  • File using software

H&R Block offers step-by-step assistance through its software in addition to free advice from one of its tax experts. You could also maximize your federal tax refund thanks to a real-time feature that lets you see how your refund is affected as you fill in your return. Also, if you opt to have your refund transferred to an e-gift card, you could be eligible for a bonus.

With a wealth of impressive and diverse features, and offices located in every state, H&R Block is one of the most accessible and comprehensive tax preparation services available. Whether you require a basic tax preparation service to guide you through your self-employment tax return, or you need to prepare a more comprehensive tax return for rental property, H&R Block has a package that will suit your needs.

H&R Block is available in four plans, allowing you to easily switch or upgrade to the plan that best suits your situation and tax preparation requirements. The plan you choose will depend on your own personal situation and your financial and administration needs. H&R Block offers the following plans:

  • H&R Block Federal Free Edition — Suitable for simple tax returns and first-time filers.
  • H&R Block Basic — Suitable for simple tax returns that require more complex import functions.
  • H&R Block Premium — Suitable for homeowners looking to maximize deductions, those who make charitable donations and those filing capital gains or losses.
  • H&R Block Deluxe — Suitable for those who file more complex returns, such as investors, business owners and landlords.

For those looking to gain professional advice from a tax expert or bridge the gap between DIY and using an accountant, H&R Block is a sensible choice that could help you save time and money when tax return time comes around. Let’s look a little deeper into each plan and what they have to offer.

H&R Federal Free Edition

If you are lucky enough to file a simple tax return each year, you could find that H&R Block Federal Free Edition is more than enough to cope with your needs. Unlike other free tax preparation offerings, H&R Block Federal Free offers support for Schedule B tax returns and can handle itemized deductions. The free edition is also a good way to introduce yourself to the sometimes tricky waters of tax preparation and get to grips with handling this task yourself.

H&R Block Federal Free Edition offers the following features:

  • Free federal e-file for your tax return. Once you’ve completed your return, you’ll be able to send it directly to the IRS. You can also log in and check the status of your return for free at any time.
  • Schedule B support for anybody with more than $1,500 in dividend and interest income.
  • Itemized deductions
  • Affordable Care Act support
  • Accuracy review
  • Unlimited W-2 importing
  • 5 percent refund bonus if your federal return is transferred to an e-gift card

H&R Federal Free Edition Cost

  • Federal: Free
  • State: Free

H&R Block Basic

There isn’t a great deal of difference between H&R Block Federal Free and H&R Block Basic, but the Basic version could be the perfect solution if you require more advanced import features, for example. H&R Block is also available as a mobile app, allowing you to update your tax return on the fly and from any location.

In addition to all the features from the previous plan, H&R Block Basic also offers:

  • Advanced import functionality for W-2s, 1099s and last year’s return
  • Support for Schedule EIC for anybody eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Access to past tax returns filed using H&R Block
  • Mobile app access

H&R Block Basic Cost

  • Federal: $24.99
  • State: $36.99

H&R Block Deluxe

H&R Block Deluxe is perfect for homeowners looking to manage their finances easily and get the maximum refund through submission of deductions. It also makes a sensible choice for anybody filing capital gains or losses or who has made charitable donations that are more than $500.

H&R Block Deluxe offers all the features from the previous plans, as well as:

  • Support for charitable donations
  • Support for Schedule D for tax filers with capital gains or losses
  • Support for Schedule C-EZ for freelancers and contractors
  • 10 percent refund bonus if your federal return is transferred to an e-gift card

H&R Block Deluxe Cost

  • Federal: $34.99
  • State: $36.99

H&R Block Premium

H&R Block Premium is the most expensive and most comprehensive H&R Block plan on offer, but it is still cheaper than its closest rival, TurboTax. Self-employed filers, landlords, investors, business owners and anybody else who needs to file a complex tax return should find all the advice, guidance and features they need to make the process run as smoothly as possible.

H&R Block Premium offers all the features from the previous plans, as well as:

  • Schedule E support for property owners or landlords
  • Cost Basis for helping you to determine the cost basis of inheritance assets, gifts, home sales and dividends.

H&R Premium Cost

  • Federal: $54.99
  • State: $36.99

H&R Block includes a Refund Reveal tool that allows tax-return DIYers to see in real-time why and how their refund amount fluctuates while they prepare their return. Most DIYers would like to see the factors that affect their refund and what they can do to maximize their refund amount.

You can opt to receive your refund in one of three ways:

  • H&R Block Emerald Card — You can choose to have your refund loaded directly onto a prepaid MasterCard. Once loaded, you can use your card anywhere a Debit MasterCard is accepted.
  • Direct Deposit
  • Check

H&R Block has received countless glowing reviews over the years from customers looking to create an accurate tax return easily and for an affordable price. The different pricing models also provide users with a vast array of features allowing them to choose the most suitable plan and to upgrade if their tax return becomes more complex, their business changes or they become an investor or landlord. H&R Block is also very competitively priced and is cheaper than its closest rival, TurboTax, when you compare the higher-tiered plans.

Another welcome feature was the mobile access with H&R Block being ranked one of the most impressive tax preparation mobile apps available.

Users also like the helpful bookmarking system and the ability to import and view tax returns from previous years. The real-time refund tracker is also very well received and offers excellent refund bonuses compared to other services in the marketplace.

There have been some complaints about H&R Block not being as intuitive as TurboTax and that the lower priced plans aren’t able to cope with complex tax returns. However, users did agree that it was easy to upgrade and also get one-to-one assistance from H&R Block’s tax advisors.

H&R Block Customer Service

H&R Block offers a wide range of support options to its customers. In-office appointments can be made at any one of the company’s 11,000 franchise locations, where you can speak to a trusted and experienced tax advisor. You can also contact H&R Block over the telephone and through live chat and email support. Even those using the Federal Free Edition can contact advisors via email with any tax or technical questions.

You can choose to receive your refund in a number of ways, as specified above. If you opt to have your federal refund transferred directly to an Emerald Card, using it really couldn’t be easier. In fact, it works just like any regular debit card. That means you can use it to pay bills, purchase goods or services, earn cash rewards and withdraw cash. You can apply for your H&R Block Emerald Card at any H&R Block office. Remember, if you receive your refund in this way, you will miss out on the e-gift bonus that is available on some plans. It may be worth comparing the two options, especially if you will be using your Emerald Card predominantly for shopping at one of the participating retailers.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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