H&R Block Reviews - Prepare Your Taxes The Right Way?
H&R Block is a tax preparation company who offers free online tax filing, paid online tax filing as well as tax refund advances of up to $3,000.
The company launched in 1955 with two founders who were also brothers: Henry and Richard Block. Over the past 30 years, the company has grown to the point where H&R Block storefronts are common in cities across the country and they’re one of the more popular choices for online tax filing.
As one of the leading names in tax returns, H&R Block has a good reputation but is one of many different companies who is trying to earn your business during tax season.
In this review, we will analyze what H&R Block offers, how their in-person and online tax returns work, what their refund advance service is like and how the company compares to other leading names in online tax returns.
Who Can File With H&R Block?
Based on the research you’ll read in the next section, we’ve found that H&R Block has no exclusions for tax filers. In other words, they’ll have a solution to your tax situation.
What H&R Block Offers and How Much It Costs
The company splits up their services into three different types: in-person tax returns, online tax returns and tax return advances.
The fact that they have offices into which you can go to work with a tax pro to file your taxes is something that sets them apart from exclusively online companies like TurboTax, Tax ACT and Tax Slayer.
In-office Tax Returns: $59 and Up
At the time of publishing, in-office tax returns cost $59 for federal and $59 for state. To get an appointment, you can call your local branch or you can schedule an appointment on the H&R Block website.
According to H&R Block, the person who will help you is known as a Tax Pro and has, on average 10 years of experience and has received more than 100 hours of training. These Tax Pros can continue their training and move up a series of designations, with Master Tax Advisor being the highest level of experience and Tax Associate being the lowest:
- Master Tax Advisor
- Senior Tax Analyst
- Tax Analyst
- Senior Tax Specialist
- Tax Specialist
- Tax Associate
Remember that the level of expertise your Tax Pro has and the cost of your return will vary depending on the complexity of your tax return. A return that includes investment income, rental properties, home ownership, retirement accounts and various dividends and salaries will cost more and require a tax pro with more experience.
Online Tax Returns: $0 and Up
If you’d rather DIY your taxes from home instead of going to an office, you can choose to file your taxes online. The pricing for this product starts at $0 for simple tax returns and climbs from there, with prices possibly increasing the closer the filing deadline is.
At the time of publishing, H&R Block offered the following pricing types and tiers:
- Free: $0
- Deluxe: $29.99
- Premium: $49.99
- Self-employed: $79.99
All paid filing types will cost an additional $36.99 for state tax returns.
According to H&R Block’s website, Deluxe is “homeowners, donations and HSA’s”, Premium is best for “freelancers, contractors and investors” and Self-Employed is best for “self-employed & small business”.
If you’re not sure which tier is best, start filling out the free version of the tax and, when you hit a part of your tax return that requires an upgraded version, H&R Block will inform you of which tier you’ll need in order to complete your return.
H&R Blocks Refund Advances
The company also offers tax refund advances, which is a program in which they work with a bank to provide you a refund advance of up to $3,000 that’s put on a pre-paid card.
There are some specific criteria for these advances, though. Based on our research of tax return advances, people with Earned Income Tax Credits who have an income of between $15,000 and $54,000 depending on family size are eligible for this advance.
You’ll set up an appointment to do an in-office tax return and, when you’re done, you’ll submit your documentation and an application to Axos Bank, the company who funds your advance. If you’re approved, you could get your money deposited onto a pre-paid card the same day.
It’s worth noting that these tax returns tend to be simple and could be done online for free, in many cases. However, because H&R Block and other tax return companies require you to do in-office appointments to get the return, you’ll have to pay the $59 in office fee for your federal tax return and another $59 if you’re filing a state return.
In other words, you could pay at least $108 to get an advance on your refund when you could file the same return through H&R Block‘s website for free. The downside to online filing is that you’ll have to wait for your return to arrive.
H&R Block’s Guarantees
There are two main guarantees you get while using H&R Block: maximum refund and accuracy.
Their maximum refund guarantee states that they’ll refund your filing fees if you were entitled to a bigger refund than what you received.
This guarantee only applies to refunds that are the result of their error, not your error in plugging in the wrong information or data.
Their accuracy guarantee covers situations where math errors on their end result in you underpaying your taxes and getting hit with interest and/or penalties for said underpayments. The cap on this benefit is $10,000.
Other Tax Services
The services we’ve listed in this review are the most popular ones for the average consumer. However, the company offers tax help for businesses, payroll help and year-round tax support.
How H&R Block Compares to TurboTax, TaxAct and Tax Slayer
Earlier we talked about how H&R Block is one of many companies offering tax preparation services. Because online filing is by far the most popular way to file taxes, we’ve created the following chart to show you how H&R Block’s prices stack up against other popular sites:
|Deluxe: $29.99||Deluxe: $39.99||Deluxe: $29.95||Classic: $17|
|Premium: $49.99||Premier: $59.99||Premier: $34.95||Premium: $37|
|Self-employed: $79.99||Self-employed: $89.99||Self-employed: $49.95||Self-Employed: $47|
Based on our research, we believe that H&R Block provides average value for the tax services they provide, as TaxAct and TaxSlayer have lower prices on self-employed tax returns and tax returns for those who are homeowners and/or have investments and retirement plans.
What we didn’t include in the chart is free filing and, based on our research of this area, we believe that H&R Block is a strong choice because their limitations for free filing are more generous than TaxAct and TurboTax.
For example, they place a $66,000 cap on your income for free filing; anything above that and you can’t file for free, along with other requirements. TurboTax’s limit for free filing is $33,000.
I’ve used three of the four sites and, based on my experience, I’ve used all three without any headaches. I used TurboTax in 2017 for a tax return that included owning a home, student loans and freelancer income and the application went smoothly and had no hiccups or errors.
What H&R Black has going for it that TaxAct and TaxSlayer don’t is that it’s an established company with a long history. If you’re partial to well-known names, then H&R Block or TurboTax may be the better choice.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of H&R Block
Trying to distill a massive tax preparer like H&R Block down into a simple list of pros and cons is tough and, because they’re so big, we’ve decided to focus our general impressions on their tax return service.
Our research indicates that their pricing isn’t as good as smaller brands Tax Act and TaxSlayer, but they do offer value over TurboTax. So, for someone who likes to stick with popular brands, they offer better value over TurboTax.
In terms of downsides, we believe the main drawback to the company’s offerings is the tax return advance program that will cost you at least $59.
Now, keep in mind that the major tax preparation companies who offer these advances require you to come in for a paid office visit in order to get the advance. In that sense, H&R Block’s choice to make you pay for a visit isn’t any different than competing companies like Liberty Tax.
Where they may be different is in the cost of an office visit. Our research indicates that, while H&R Block will charge you to come in and do your taxes to get an advance, their price for an office visit is cheaper than Liberty Tax and Jackson Hewitt by nearly $100.
Just to be safe, call your local H&R Block and ask for a quote. They should be able to tell you how much your visit will be based on questions about your income and family size. Do the same for Liberty Tax and Jackson Hewitt, as prices for in-office tax preparation can vary by city.
If you want to read a more in-depth examination of how H&R Block compares to TurboTax, TaxAct and Tax Slayer, read through our guide the best tax software of 2019. In it, we do a deep dive in the aspects of each software that matters most to you, including their best free filing option, the best for brand recognition, the best for the self-employed and the best for homeowners.