We all have our ways of managing and preparing our taxes, and I’ve always wondered what approach to tax preparation could be both economical and headache-free at the same time. For instance, there are those of us who take the DIY approach by using software such as TurboTax (see our TurboTax review). There are others who use a tax preparation service, while others hire accountants or enrolled agents. I thought to provide a quick review of one popular tax service provider that a lot of folks use.
Get Ready For Tax Season With H&R Block Tax Services
The H&R Block office in my part of town gets a good amount of traffic, particularly early in the year. I’ve used the so-called EZ forms in the past, but between the calculations, paperwork, and the tax laws, filling out federal and state tax forms can be intimidating. From my experience, walking into H&R Block’s office can take some of that pressure off.
You can check to see if there’s an H&R Block office in your neighborhood. If you intend to pay them a visit at the height of the tax season, be prepared to spend some extra time, given how busy things can get. But if you want to skip the crowds, you can also check out their online services or software downloads.
H&R Block Online Tax Services
If you can’t make it to a local office, H&R Block offers a few online solutions.
Free Federal Edition + E-file: This is a service that caters to those with the most basic tax situations. If you’ve got a simple tax return, then this may work out for you. The service also checks your return for errors and you’ll have access to various IRS publications. Their Worry-free Audit Support feature may be available for free but this is something you’d need to check. To file a state return, it will cost you extra ($29.99 as of this writing); you won’t be able to import your information from other programs, either. But it includes e-filing. The best thing about it is that it’s available at no cost.
Deluxe with E-file: The next step up for those filing online is the Deluxe service, which is recognized as the choice for investors and homeowners. You’ll get all the features of the Free service, including personalized tax guidance, ability to maximize deductions (e.g. mortgage interest, charitable, etc), ability to capture investment sales, professional audit support, and an e-file. You’ll also be able to import data from other tax software, if this is something you need to do. For a state return, you’ll need to pay extra. The charge is $29.95.
Premium with E-file: Building up on the Deluxe service, you’ll get the features from Deluxe along with live tax advice, Schedule C guidance, resources for tax planning and tax legal matters, tax calculators and tools, and help with rental income reporting. Filing a state return will cost extra. This product is most suitable for those who are self-employed or who own rental property. The charge is $49.95.
H&R Block Tax Software Downloads
H&R Block’s software runs on both the Windows and the Mac. Here are some of their details:
Basic + E-file: This software product allows you to prepare a simple federal tax return for $19.95. It offers tax guidance, checks for errors, and gives you the opportunity to file 5 federal e-files. You can download state tax preparation support for an extra cost. Your data from TaxCut, TurboTax, or even H&R Block’s offices can be imported. And the Windows version supports DeductionPro, which helps you maximize your tax deductions. Price is $19.95.
Deluxe with Federal E-file, State Tax Prep: The software builds upon the Basic version and has similar features as that of the online Deluxe version; it’s best for homeowners and investors. Price is $44.95 unless you don’t need state tax preparation. Without state tax prep features, the charge is $29.95. If you prefer to download the software and work on it on your desktop rather than online, then this is the Deluxe version to use.
Premium with Federal E-file, State: This software is everything that Deluxe has plus extra features; it’s best for self-employed individuals and rental property owners. The functionality available in this desktop version is similar to what you’ll find in its online counterpart (as described above). Price is $59.95.
Tax Tips, Calculators, and More
In addition to tax preparation services and products, you’ll also find tax tips and calculators on the H&R Block site. It looks like the site has been streamlined to be simpler, so aside from the Online and Software sections, you can also utilize their free tax estimator, withholding calculator and self-employment estimator, as well as peruse their helpful tax tips.
H&R Block also mentions their guarantee: if their professionals or their software makes an error on your return that results in penalties and/or interest that you need to pay the IRS, they’ll reimburse you up to a maximum of $10,000. Check their guarantee for more information.
So anyone out there ever take them up on that guarantee? I’m also curious about how you prepare your taxes — do you use a professional or do it yourself?
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