Between TurboTax and H&R Block have you decided which you’ll love to use this year? The start of a new year means your federal tax return is time to file. Many people stress filing taxes but a number of tax filing services are available to facilitate the process. H&R Block and TurboTax are two of the most recognized services. Both offer a user-friendly experience.
They give information along the way so that you can grasp what you are doing. And both offer inexpensive filing options.
Competition among the biggest suppliers of tax-prep software is fierce. TurboTax is king, but may not be everyone’s clear choice.
Our advice: Don’t automatically assume the biggest name is the best. When you file your 2020 taxes, which of these programs will you use?
Both providers offer various tiers of programs that you can choose among, depending on the complexity of your tax situation. More complicated means paying more.
Both offer free editions for the simplest returns.
These two companies have brought prices down to be more competitive.
The most expensive programs for more-complex tax situations range from $79.99 (H&R Block) to $90.00 (TurboTax).
A Quick Look at H&R Block
H&R Block has been providing the tax filing service to consumers since 1955. Since then it has become one of the most popular filing services because it combines simple tools with helpful guidance.
Whether you’ve never filed taxes or you’ve been filing for decades, that is useful. H&R Block currently offers four options for automated (on-line) filing. The options and pricing can be seen in the table below.
H&R BLOCK FILING OPTIONS
H&R Block Free
Best for new filers or simple tax returns; supported forms include 1040 with some child tax credits
H&R Block Deluxe
Best for maximizing your deductions; includes all free features plus forms for homeowners; allows you to itemize
H&R Block Premium
Best for investors and rental property owners; all More Zero and Deluxe features, plus accurate cost basis; Schedule C-EZ, Schedule D, Schedule E, Schedule K-1
H&R Block Self-Employed
Best for small business owners; all Free, Deluxe and Premium features, plus Schedule C
Regarding tax filing, the compensation plans range from $49.99 to $104.99. All state filing costs $36.99 per state, with the applications being paid out.
Most filers can get away with the Deluxe option which costs $49.99 and includes tax deduction maximization software. H&R Block often runs sales despite these listed prices, particularly during tax season.
H&R Block’s physical stores are one of their standout qualities. If you don’t want to file your taxes online, apply at one of its more than 10,000 tax offices in the United States.
There, the tax professionals will talk to you through your filing. There’s also Tax Pro Audit, a subscription service where your return will be checked by a tax professional before filing.
A Quick Look at TurboTax
TurboTax has survived since the mid-1980s. Part of its success is because it’s owned by Intuit. Intuit also makes Quickbooks software, which is used by millions of businesses to handle their accounting.
But TurboTax is also popular, as it provides a user-friendly interface and step-by-step guidance.
TURBOTAX FILING OPTIONS
TurboTax Free Edition
Best for simple returns using Form 1040; Comes with useful features like easy import, error check, refund explanations, deductions for dependents
Best for homeowners and for maximizing deductions; Comes with all previous features, plus charitable donations calculator
Best for investors and rental property owners; Comes with all previous features, plus focus on investment and rental property income, accurate stock reporting, refinancing deductions
Best for self-employed, independent contractors, freelancers, consultants, and small business owners; Comes with all previous features, plus access to self-employment tax experts, maximizing business deductions
As with H&R Block, TurboTax has a free option with some child tax credits which supports the 1040. For most filers, the Deluxe option will be enough. It costs $60, which is $30 more than H&R Block’s Deluxe option. But for that extra cost, you get slightly more features.
Small business owners and self-employed people will need to move to the self-employed option which costs $120 for a federal return. During the tax season TurboTax often regularly conducts sales of its services and products.
TurboTax doesn’t have any physical locations like H&R Block, but it does provide access to tax experts (CPAs or EAs). It will cost extra for you to get access to an expert, but there are four plans available, corresponding to the four plans listed in the table above.
Figuring out how much it costs to file your taxes largely depends on how complex your taxes are, and whether your state requires you to file income taxes or not.
Only H&R Block and TurboTax offer free state and federal filings for many users, but H&R Block offers free filing for a wider range of users including those with interest in student loans and tuition deductions, or child and dependent care exemptions.
Winner: H&R Block
TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Price
The in-app features of TurboTax are slightly better than those of H&R Block but you’ll pay for them a little more. In bundles that have slightly different names, TurboTax and H&R Block provide exactly the same features for those who can’t use the free filing option. Both both also offer options to get tailored online help from a tax professional for a fee.
TurboTax, by box, is about $10 more costly than H&R Block. However, no matter which company you choose, if your state requires you to file a tax return, you will pay about $40 to file your State return.
Winner: H&R Block
TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Ease of use
TurboTax has always been the clear winner for most of the last couple of years when it comes to user interface and the simplicity with which you could complete your taxes— but this year, H&R Block has evened things up.
TurboTax and H&R Block both deliver simple, easy-to-use interfaces with fun color schemes. Each of them also asks clear interview questions that leave you confident that you have selected the correct answers and entered all the necessary information for the best possible return.
TurboTax has one irritating feature-it often asks if you want to move to another version of the app. H&R Block offers upgrade plans so you won’t get upsold as constantly while using it. Overall, though, it’s a minor irritation.
TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Access to professional tax help
H&R Block has a benefit in that to chat about your return, you can meet a tax pro in person.
TurboTax and H&R Block both offer live assistance from tax pros, but H&R Block has almost everywhere the benefit of physical offices.
Once you have entered your information, you have the option of returning to one of the local offices at H&R Block. If you’re looking for feedback from people with deep experience it’s hard to beat having in-person contact.
Winner: H&R Block
TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Self-employed taxes
Although a little more costly than the H&R Block, the higher price tag of TurboTax is worth it for independent contractors. If you file using TurboTax Self-Employed, you’ll also get one year of QuickBooks Self-Employed access as part of your TurboTax kit.
QuickBooks Self-employed makes it easy to track your self-employment income throughout the year; directs you when it comes to quarterly and self-employment tax payments, and lets you keep a better eye on your business-related expenses (and possibly a better result for the tax season next year).
TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Conclusion
The best tax software for you, of course, won’t always line up neatly with a purchase based purely on price or a single feature. So here are our picks for who wins between TurboTax and H&R Block, when based on a more holistic set of criteria.
Have few deductions
Won’t itemize your expenses
Have no 1099 income
Have college interest and tuition expenses
And it’s likely you’ll be using a basic 1040 form
H&R Block is the tax applicable for you. You’ll get far more forms for free and more bang for your no bucks using H&R Block.
Homeowners, Parents, and/or Investors
Receive W-2 income
Own a home
Have investment income and expenses
Plan on doing your taxes on your own
Would like the option to have someone review your taxes online
Either TurboTax and H&R Block will suit your needs perfectly. Have a look at each to see which version feels best to you, since the $10 price difference between the two is too little to worry about. Your level of comfort should be your guide when choosing.
TurboTax and H&R Block both do a good job handling returns for homeowners, parents, and basic investors, so pick the one with the interface you like most.
Self-Employed (Independent contractors)
Make any income reported on a 1099
Mix business and personal expenses
Should be paying quarterly taxes
TurboTax is the tax application for you, especially because you get QuickBooks Self-employed when you file your taxes with TurboTax Self-employed. This, for next tax season, will help you avoid underpayment penalties and stay on top quarterly taxes for the 2019 tax season.
People Seeking Input From a Tax Pro
Want the benefit of a personal touch or you to want to be able to meet with a real person in a physical building
H&R Block is the ticket for you, as it’s the only one of the two options that offer brick-and-mortar businesses you go to finalize your taxes.
Complicated Tax Returns
Have made unusual purchases
Have bought and sold property
Spend a lot of time making your income by trading securities
We recommend that you skip TurboTax and H&R Block and instead of a few extra bucks on having a tax professional who’s well-versed in the specifics of what you do handle your taxes. If you do, it’s more likely that you’ll get the best bang for your buck and avoid an audit.
1. What Online Tax Preparation Programs Does H&R Block offer?
H&R Block offers four tiers of online tax preparation programs as of the 2020 filing season when you’re preparing your 2019 tax return: Free, Deluxe, Premium, and Self-Employed.
The company also includes options to do it yourself with the help of a tax professional, uploading your documents for a tax pro to do for you, and making an appointment to sit with somebody who will do your taxes.
2. What Online Tax Preparation Programs Does TurboTax offer?
Each of these tax preparation software options helps you quickly and easily file your taxes. They all come with various levels, which give you access to different tax forms and filing options.
4. TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Audit Protection
It is important to understand the difference between audit “support” and audit “security” when it comes to audit safety. Some users believe that their tax preparation software provider can negotiate with the IRS on their behalf when they buy audit support packages.
In addition, audit support usually consists only of consulting a tax professional about what to expect and what to do next. On the other hand, audit defense packages often help to protect you against fees, charges and questioning.
What wins, then? Okay, that depends on what you want to do exactly. H&R Block has its free option covering more filers. The two Deluxe options are $15 different (H&R block is cheaper), but the Deluxe version of TurboTax supports more types that self-employed, self-employed, and contract workers may need.
All programs are user-friendly but with a more concise vocabulary, TurboTax is somewhat easier.
Beyond these factors, which service you choose for tax filing can come down to your personal preference. Most people prefer one over the other, simply because they like the way it looks. They may also select H&R Block so they can have the option to file at a physical location.