H&R Block Tax Software Review: A Free Version Many Filers Can Use [2020]

H&R Block is one of the most affordable tax-prep software programs, and its free version will work for many tax filers.
Last updated Feb 26, 2020 | By Christy Rakoczy
Man using H&R Block tax software

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Filing and paying taxes is never fun. From figuring out your tax bracket to ensuring you don't miss any IRS deadlines, there's a lot involved in the process. The good news is, there are tons of software programs designed to make completing your tax forms easier.

H&R Block tax software is a popular option, and it's a very affordable one compared to many competitors. Still, there are some downsides to think about, too. This H&R Block tax software review will help you weigh the pros and cons so you can decide which program is best.

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H&R Block overview

H&R Block dates back to 1955, when it was formed with the goal of providing high quality tax services. In the decades since, H&R Block has helped taxpayers file more than 800 million returns.

The company not only offers online software tools but it also helps people do taxes at brick-and-mortar branches across all 50 states. This means that in-person tax filing support is available along with phone support, although many tax filers prefer to stick with the web and mobile options the company offers.

How much does H&R Block cost: Products and prices

H&R Block offers four different products for filers facing different situations.

One of those products is free tax filing software for taxpayers with simple returns. You can use the free version if all of your income comes from a W-2. While it won't allow you to claim some deductions or credits, the free version does enable you to claim a credit for child and dependent care expenses. You can also use it if you claim the student loan interest deduction, while some competitors — including TurboTax — require you to use a paid program to score this tax savings.

There are also three different filing options that come with a fee, with costlier programs providing access to more tax forms.

The Deluxe Online version, for example, opens up the door to itemizing and claiming deductions for mortgage interest, donations to charities, or contributions to a health savings account. Those with investment income or who do freelance work will need to upgrade to the next level and use H&R Block's Premium Online filing service, while self-employed workers and small business owners have a software program all their own at a higher cost.

H&R Block's paid programs charge a fee for each state you file in, which is a common feature of tax prep software. But this fee is about $3 less than what TurboTax charges so you can cut your costs a bit by opting for H&R Block's software instead.

You can also get help from a tax expert via live chat as you go through the filing process with H&R Block tax software or can get personalized advice via phone for an additional fee.

Product Cost Best for...
Free Online $0 for federal and state returns Tax filers with simple returns
Deluxe Online $29.99 for federal

$36.99 per state

Tax filers who need to claim deductions for mortgage interest, charitable donations, or HSA contributions
Premium Online $49.99 for federal

$36.99 per state

Freelancers, independent contractors, and filers with investment income
Self-Employed Online $79.99 for federal

$36.99 per state

For self-employed filers and small businesses

How does H&R Block tax software work?

H&R Block makes filing taxes online simple thanks to its easy-to-use interface. While not quite as intuitive as the TurboTax software, you'll still get step-by-step guidance through each part of the process so filling out your forms and identifying deductions and credits won't require any tax knowledge on your part.

And features such as the ability to drag and drop prior returns or import W2s by taking a picture makes completing your return much faster. You can even import returns from other programs such as TurboTax or Quicken.

For those in need of extra help, you can talk with a tax expert via phone for personalized advice, although there is an additional fee. And because you can share your screen as you ask questions, you can ensure you'll get the answers you need quickly.

Because taxes can be confusing even with the help H&R Block provides, tax-filers also get a free accuracy review to identify potential issues and to assess the risk of an audit. And if the worst happens and an audit does occur, H&R Block will stand behind you with free in-person audit representation.

Finally, the company is so confident it can help you file your taxes that it even offers a money-back guarantee. If you're dissatisfied with any aspect of the software or you don't get the maximum refund you're entitled to, your return will be filed for free and you'll be refunded the price you paid for the software.

H&R Block pros and cons

Some of the biggest benefits of filing your taxes with H&R Block include the following:

  • The free filing option offers more forms than some competitors. For example, you can claim the student loan interest deduction while using H&R Block Free File, while TurboTax requires you to pay for your return if you want to claim this deduction.
  • There's ample support provided. You can chat with an expert via live chat, work with a virtual assistant during the filing process, and research tax questions through a searchable database of more than 13,000 articles.
  • H&R Block stands behind its product. You'll get in-person help if an audit happens; you can get back the money you paid for the software if you aren't satisfied with the filing process; and there's both an accuracy guarantee and a maximum refund guarantee. If mistakes are made, H&R Block reimburses you for IRS penalties while you'll be able to file a free return if you don't get the maximum refund.

Downsides of using H&R Block tax software include:

  • The user interface isn't quite as intuitive as some competitors such as TurboTax. While both programs ask you questions in plain language, TurboTax offers more explanations for tax questions on each page and it makes the process feel simpler because of it. And while both TurboTax and H&R Block have progress bars showing you where you are in the process, TurboTax's software makes it a little easier to jump around.
  • Not all tax pros are trained CPAs or enrolled agents; some have received training with H&R Block — which encompasses 60 hours of education — but may not have these professional credentials.

How to contact H&R Block

You can contact H&R Block for help at 1-800-HRBLOCK. You also have the option to connect via live chat while using the software. Screen-sharing is available as well, making it easy to get your questions answered.

If you decide you don't want to handle your filing online, you can also visit a local H&R Block office at one of more than 11,000 locations across the United States — but you will have to pay a fee for in-person tax filing.

FAQs

How many tax returns can I file with HR Block software?

You can file up to five federal tax returns for free. It’s possible to file more than five returns but you will incur additional fees.

Can I do my taxes online with H&R Block?

H&R Block tax filing software makes it easy to complete your taxes online if you don't want to go to a local office. You can opt to use H&R Block’s software and complete your forms yourself or can get expert tax help from home with Tax Pro Go.

With Tax Pro Go, you simply upload your tax documents and you're matched with a professional experienced with situations like yours. You can schedule a phone call to talk with your tax pro if you have any questions, and the pro will complete your taxes for you. The cost is between $49 and $229 for this service, with simple returns coming in at the low end and business owners paying the highest price.

Is TurboTax better than H&R Block?

H&R Block and TurboTax both have their own pros and cons. While TurboTax's software is slightly easier to use, H&R Block has slightly lower prices and provides more forms for free filing. You can't go wrong with either program, so you'll just have to decide if you want to pay a bit more to get a more intuitive tax filing program.

Is H&R Block really free?

H&R Block allows you to file simple returns for free, but you will pay more if you have more complex tax issues or if you want support from a tax professional. If you don't want to claim the standard deduction but would prefer to itemize, you have income from investments, or you have business income, you'll probably need to pay to use H&R Block software.

Is H&R Block tax software right for you?

If you want to file for free and claim the student loan interest deduction, H&R Block's software will let you do that when most competitor programs won't. In other situations, you'll need to compare what features are most important to you and think about how much you're willing to pay to find the right tax software. H&R Block is a good choice, though, and you can't go wrong when using it to file.

Over 60 years of Tax Preparation Experience

Benefits

  • File easily from your computer or smartphone
  • Get help from our experts if you need it
  • No hidden fees