H&R Block Review 2021

Imagine if doing your taxes was easy, inexpensive, and when you were finished you felt confident they were done correctly?

Well, H&R Block offers several options that do exactly that. From free DIY online tax filing to in-person assistance with a tax pro – and everything in between.

The last thing you want is to be paying for features you don’t need or to have lingering doubts that you didn’t do your taxes correctly.

They aren’t the cheapest, but H&R Block has been doing taxes since 1955. With their many service levels from complete DIY to online assist to fully in-person with a tax pro, you can be sure you are getting exactly what you need without overpaying.

This H&R Block review can help you decide if “Block” is the best tax software for you.

Table of Contents
  1. H&R Block Online Prices
    1. Free Online
    2. Deluxe
    3. Premium
    4. Self-Employed
  2. File with Online Assist
  3. File with a Tax Pro
  4. Refund and Payment Options
  5. Key Features of H&R Block
    1. W-2 Snapshot
    2. Auto-Import
    3. Deduction Calculator
    4. MyBlock Mobile App
    5. Emerald Card
    6. Refund Advance
    7. Refund Transfer
    8. Expat Tax Tools
    9. Small Business Bookkeeping
  6. Ease of Use
  7. Audit and Tax Support
    1. Audit Support Guarantee
    2. Worry-Free Audit Support
    3. 100% Accuracy Guarantee
    4. Maximum Refund Guarantee
    5. No Surprise Guarantee
  8. Customer Support
  9. Is H&R Block Expensive?
  10. Is H&R Block a Good Place to Do Taxes?
  11. Who Should Use H&R Block?
  12. Who Should Avoid H&R Block?
  13. Positives and Negatives
    1. Pros
    2. Cons
  14. Summary

H&R Block Online Prices

There are several ways to effortlessly file your taxes online using H&R Block. All returns start at the Free Online level. The return upgrades to one of the three paid tiers as your taxes become more complex. Below is an overview of how much H&R Block costs with its four filing options.

It’s possible to get tax expert assistance with any plan. This add-on starts at $39.99 per return.

Free Online

  • Federal return cost: $0
  • State return cost: $0

The H&R Block Free Online package lets you file one federal and one state tax return for free. Each additional state return costs $36.99.

There isn’t an annual income limit to qualify for this free option like some free tax packages enforce.

Instead, the complexity of the tax return determines which tax package you qualify for.

The Free Online package is for simple, non-itemized tax returns that earn W-2 income but not self-employment income.

Supported Tax Situations

Below are some of the most common tax situations you can file for free:

  • W-2 income
  • Unemployment income (Form 1099-G)
  • Social Security income
  • Retirement income
  • Earned Income Credit (EITC)
  • Stimulus check payments

Specifically for the 2020 tax return, people can claim the $300 above-the-line charity tax deduction for free.

More tax returns qualify for the Free Online plan than TurboTax or the discount tax software. For example, other tax software is more likely to charge a fee for these student loan items:

  • Student loan interest deduction (1098-E)
  • Tuition and fees statement (1098-T)
  • American opportunity tax credit (AOTC)
  • Lifetime learning credit (LLC)

Is H&R Block Free Online Really Free?

A surprising number of semi-complex tax returns can qualify for Free Online. But H&R Block charges a fee for these tax situations:

  • Itemized tax returns
  • Health Savings Account
  • Sell investments
  • Earn rental property income
  • Earn self-employment income

So, you won’t need to pay to file if your daily wages report on a W-2 form and you earn bank interest and stock dividends. However, you will pay if you sell stock shares – even if it’s only one share.

Purchasing add-ons like the tax pro Online Assist or an audit support package cost money.

You will also need to upgrade to a paid plan if you want live phone or chat support. Having digital access to your tax documents for six years requires paying to file your taxes too.

Special Features

The Free Online edition is the most barebones version of H&R Block that doesn’t include many assistance tools. However, if you have a simple return, access to the powerful tool suite isn’t necessary.

H&R Block offers several tools that make filing your taxes quick and easy:

  • W-2 Snapshot
  • Auto-import last year’s tax return (even if you didn’t use H&R Block)
  • Real-time refund updates

The W-2 Snapshot tool prevents data input errors. You can use your phone to take a picture of your W-2 income tax forms and H&R Block uploads the information to calculate your potential refund.

Depending on which bank and investing apps you use, you might be able to import your end-of-year tax documents for free.

Basic Online Assist

If you want hands-on help, H&R Block offers Online Assist packages that start at $39.99. The price can be higher if you wait to file closer to the April 15 federal tax deadline and costs more for more expensive filing options.

The Online Assist package for all filing tiers includes these perks:

  • Live screen sharing with a tax expert
  • On-demand chat and video
  • Unlimited help from a tax expert
  • Support on any tech device

The truly free version of Free Online has limited customer support such as email support and an online tax library for frequently asked questions. In most instances, the limited support access isn’t a problem and similar to other free tax software offerings.

Basic tax returns are also less likely to require personal tax advice, meaning you won’t need to ask a tax expert.

Get started with H&R Block

Deluxe

  • Federal tax return: $29.99
  • State tax return: $36.99

Itemizers and filers with a Health Savings Account (HSA) will use the H&R Deluxe filing option.

Qualifying Tax Situations

Some of the most common qualifying tax situations include:

  • Itemized federal tax returns
  • Home mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Basic freelancer and self-employment income

Those who earn independent contractor income reported on IRS Tax Form 1099 can use the Deluxe filing option, however they will not be able to take deductions for expenses. For example, a virtual assistant who works from home may have income from this job but no expenses.

However, those who have business expenses will need to upgrade to the Premium option. Say, the virtual assistant from above purchased a computer to use for work, or they want to take a home office deduction, they would have to upgrade to the Premium version.

Live Tech Support

Live chat and phone support is standard with the three paid filing options. This service provides technical help to navigate the H&R Block platform but not personal tax advice.

You will need to purchase an Online Assist or File with a Tax Pro plan to get one-on-one advice

Online Document Access

The three paid filing options also include six years of online access to prior-year returns.

The Free Online addition provides limited future online access after the next tax season starts.

Get started with H&R Block

Premium

  • Federal tax return: $49.99
  • State tax return: $36.99

H&R Block Premium is for reporting sold investments, rental property income, and small business expenses.

Qualifying Tax Situations

  • Report stock and crypto sales (Schedule D)
  • Rental property income (Schedule E)
  • Sell your primary residence
  • Simple small business expenses (Schedule C)

Freelancers and gig workers with simple income and expenses can use Premium instead of the pricier Self-Employed filing options. One example can include being a delivery app driver deducting mileage and parking fees.

Advanced Calculators

H&R Block lets you use a calculator during the tax interview. These calculators help you tabulate your taxable income and deductions from selling assets or earning side hustle income.

These calculators help you factor in tax situations like a home sale, gift and inheritance assets.

Import Investments to H&R Block

If you’ve sold investments in the past, reporting your transaction details can be quite time-consuming.

Many investing apps integrate with H&R Block as it’s one of the most popular tax software which means you don’t have to type in your transactions manually – saving time and decreases your risk of errors. .

You can look for import tools from H&R Block or directly from your broker or bank.

Self-Employed

  • Federal tax return: $84.99
  • State tax return: $36.99

Small business owners will need to choose the Self-Employed package.

H&R Block walks filers through the self-employment tax interview to find industry-specific deductions.

Other standard features include:

  • Import directly from Uber account (Form 1099-K and 1099-MISC)
  • Track expenses, mileage, and receipts all year
  • Calculate depreciation

Digital Bookmarks

Self-employed tax returns are also more complex than many standard tax returns. As you prepare your taxes, you may realize that you need to gather more tax documents.

H&R Block lets you bookmark specific interview questions and return to later. These bookmarks are available on the other filing tiers too but can be most useful at this level.

File with Online Assist

H&R Block offers two packages that provide “hands-on help” for filers that desire personal tax guidance without hiring a full-time tax professional.

The first option is “File with Online Assist.”

Filers still prepare their own tax returns but can get help from a tax professional, as necessary.

The File with Online Assist features include:

  • Unlimited help from a tax expert, enrolled agent or a CPA
  • Screen sharing with the tax pro
  • On-demand chat and video
  • Support on any device

You will complete your tax return as usual. When you need personal tax advice about a particular tax situation, tax form or filing step, you can ask the tax pro.

The professional can share your screen to see the same information as you. The on-demand phone and chat support are also helpful.

The total cost to use H&R Block File with Online Assist depends on your H&R Block filing option:

  • Basic: Starts at $39.99
  • Deluxe: Starts at $69.99
  • Premium: Starts at $109.99
  • Self-Employed: Starts at $144.99

This price is the total cost to file a federal return with Online Assist. Each state return costs $36.99 for the Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed options.

File with a Tax Pro

Some filers prefer having a professional tax preparer file their tax return. Spending the extra money can be worth the time savings and additional peace of mind.

With this option, you gather your tax documents and an H&R Block tax pro prepares your return. You can review the return before they file.

It’s possible to schedule an online meeting or meet a local H&R Block office.

This package starts at $69 for a federal return plus state filing fees.

Refund and Payment Options

Paying H&R Block by credit card or debit card is the best option to avoid extra fees. You only pay the price to file online, use the H&R Block software or in-person filing cost.

In-person filers can pay by cash or check too.

H&R Block offers these options to receive your refund:

  • Direct deposit
  • Paper check
  • Emerald Card
  • Refund Transfer

The Refund Transfer gives you the ability to pay your tax prep fees with your return and gives you a direct deposit option if you don’t have a bank account. Here’s how it works, you’ll receive your refund into a temporary bank account from which the funds – minus the cost of your tax prep – are distributed to you.

This option costs $39 plus filing fees.

If you need a place to receive a direct deposit but can pay for your return at the time of service consider the Emerald Card refund option. You will receive a pre-paid debit card where your return will be deposited when it is issued from the IRS.

H&R Block itself doesn’t charge fees for this but the Emerald Card has it’s own set of fees attached.

There are no add-on fees for the other refund options.

Get started with H&R Block

Key Features of H&R Block

Here are some of the key features of using H&R Block.

W-2 Snapshot

You can use the H&R Block Tax Prep and File mobile app to take pictures of your W-2 to upload the tax form boxes automatically.

This feature has been around for several years and used to only be available for the paid versions. It’s now available for all H&R Block users, including Free Online.

Auto-Import

H&R Block can auto-import last year’s tax return from any tax software or local tax preparer. You simply need to upload a PDF of the return and H&R Block fills out the basic information for this year’s tax season.

It’s also possible to import brokerage and bank tax forms directly to H&R Block. Many brokers and banks integrate with H&R Block. However, TurboTax appears to have more auto-import capabilities.

Deduction Calculator

When filing an itemized return and you deduct charity donations, the H&R Block Deduction Calculator can be useful. You can use this calculator to determine the value of your physical donations and cash donations.

MyBlock Mobile App

There are two H&R Block mobile apps. The first app, H&R Block Tax Prep and File, is for preparing and filing the tax return. You also use this app for the W-2 Snapshot.

Depending on which ongoing H&R Block features you use, you can download the MyBlock mobile app.

The MyBlock app offers these features:

  • Upload business receipts during the year
  • Track charity donations
  • Access prior-year tax returns
  • Manage H&R Block Emerald Card balance
  • View personal credit score
  • Manage Tax Identity Shield membership

This app can make preparing for next year’s tax season easier as you store your tax details in real-time using the virtual tax organizer.

Emerald Card

The H&R Block Emerald Card is a reloadable prepaid debit card that can be a good option if you don’t have a bank account to receive a tax refund. There are no fees and filers can get one at a local H&R Block office or request one when filing online.

In addition to receiving a tax refund, the Emerald Card can also receive payroll, stimulus check and unemployment benefits. Cardholders can load checks and cash but fees may apply.

Refund Advance

Filers choosing the File with a Tax Pro option can receive a tax refund advance of up to $3,500. H&R Block issues the refund as a 0% APR loan with no fees allowing the filer to get their tax refund up to 21 days sooner. H&R Block keeps the actual refund when the IRS distributes it.

Refund Transfer

Filers that don’t pay their tax prep fees upfront pay an extra $39 Refund Transfer fee. H&R Block withholds the $39 payment plus the additional prep fees from the refund balance. The remaining balance deposits into a temporary bank account.

Expat Tax Tools

H&R Block can help expatriates file their United States tax returns. It’s possible to file by yourself or hire an advisor. Filing fees start at $99.

Small Business Bookkeeping

The self-employed can use the Wave bookkeeping and payroll tools for free when filing with H&R Block. Business owners can also work with a Block Advisor. Fees vary.

Ease of Use

Is H&R Block easy to use? The answer is “yes” for most who use computers or mobile apps regularly.

The web platform or mobile app can be easier to navigate than most discount tax software as H&R Block due to the extensive interview process and auto-import tools.

However, TurboTax continues to be a little easier to use yet both programs produce the same results and H&R Block can be cheaper in more instances.

The paid options have live chat and phone support to resolve technical difficulties.

Get started with H&R Block

Audit and Tax Support

No one wants to go through a tax audit alone. H&R Block offers an add-on tax audit support as well as tax return accuracy guarantees.

Audit Support Guarantee

If you receive an IRS tax audit notice, you can call H&R Block for a free consultation. The tax pro evaluates the situation and generates a price quote. In-person and phone consults are available.

Worry-Free Audit Support

Purchasing the Worry-Free Audit Support package costs $19.99 and provides in-person representation in-person audits. This service applies to federal and state tax audits.

100% Accuracy Guarantee

H&R Block reimburses up to $10,000 in penalties and interest if their software makes a calculation error.

Maximum Refund Guarantee

H&R Block lets you file an amended return for free if you find a calculation error. You will need to discover this error and show it to H&R Block.

No Surprise Guarantee

You can get 20% off next year’s tax prep fees if H&R Block fails to provide any of these four benefits:

  • Upfront transparent pricing
  • Transparent process
  • Free audit assistance
  • Free mid-year care check-in

Customer Support

H&R Block has an extensive knowledge base of tax questions and technical support questions. Filers can reference this online database first to answer their questions.

For additional help, phone and live chat support are available.

Is H&R Block Expensive?

H&R Block offers a free tax filing option for simple tax returns. As you can claim student loan interest, more people can file for free with H&R Block than other tax software.

H&R Block has competitive pricing for federal and state tax returns. But it’s not always the cheapest way to file taxes.

In most situations, H&R Block is cheaper than TurboTax – its most similar competitor.

However, federal tax returns can cost less with TaxAct, especially if you must use the most expensive filing option.

For filers wanting to spend the least amount of money possible, a platform like FreeTaxUSA is better from a price perspective. It has bargain pricing for federal and state tax returns.

Is H&R Block a Good Place to Do Taxes?

Yes, H&R Block is one of the best places to file taxes for most people as they handle more complex tax situations than discount tax software. They also offer in-person audit support services.

Its prices for filing taxes online is competitive for federal and state returns. The software is also easy to use thanks to the W-2 Snapshot and tax document auto-import tools that budget tax platforms don’t offer.

Filers wanting hands-on assistance and personal tax guidance will also like H&R Block. They can use the File with Online Assist or File with a Tax Pro options.

The Emerald Card refund option can also be a good option for those who don’t use traditional banking services.

Finally, users who prefer filing in-person can schedule an appointment at a local H&R Block office. Block has been offering tax prep services for over 60 years and has a good reputation.

Who Should Use H&R Block?

H&R Block is a good option for these tax situations:

  • File for free with student loan interest or education tax credits
  • Have a complex tax return
  • Want “hands-on” personal tax guidance
  • Want W-2 Snapshot and auto-import tools

Get started with H&R Block

Who Should Avoid H&R Block?

H&R Block may not be the best option for these circumstances:

  • Want to pay the lowest cost possible for complex tax returns
  • Prefer TurboTax – which has more “bells and whistles” despite higher prices

Positives and Negatives

Pros

  • Free Online option supports many simple tax situations
  • Access to tax experts, enrolled agents and CPAs
  • Auto-import tax documents and W-2 forms
  • Competitive pricing for simple and complex tax returns

Cons

  • Access to tax experts costs extra
  • Cannot auto-import from every bank or online broker
  • Can be more expensive than discount tax software

Summary

H&R Block is one of the best tax services due to its many features, competitive pricing. An above-average amount of simple tax returns can file for free. Having add-on tax expert access for personalized advice is another positive for those who prefer hands-on help.

H&R Block

8.5

Product Rating

8.5/10

Strengths

  • Free Online option supports many simple tax situations
  • Access to tax experts, enrolled agents and CPAs
  • Auto-import tax documents and W-2 forms
  • Competitive pricing for simple and complex tax returns

Weaknesses

  • Access to tax experts costs extra
  • Cannot auto-import from every bank or online broker
  • Can be more expensive than discount tax software

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Credit Karma Tax Review 2021

Credit Karma Tax offers a free way to file both your federal and state taxes. It includes business income and audit defense which are not features you will see in most free file plans.

How Are Dividends Taxed?

There are two types of dividends - ordinary and qualified. Ordinary dividends are taxed like income. Qualified dividends are taxed as long term capital gains. The rate you pay for long term capital gains depends on your income but will be between 0 and 20%.

TaxAct Review 2021: Same Tax Return, Lower Cost

While TaxAct doesn't have all the bells and whistles of other tax software out there it is generally cheaper to file with them. If you don't need extras, such as one on one support or audit assistance you may want to consider TaxAct. They offer a free version for simple returns and several other levels of service depending on how complicated your taxes are.

The Best Tax Software for 2021

Which tax software to choose depends on your specific situation. If you have a simple return in only one state you can likely get your taxes done for free with TurboTax or Credit Karma. But if things are more complicated or you want live help from a tax expert then you'll want an upgraded package as you can find with H&R Block.

Josh Patoka

About Josh Patoka

After graduating in $50k with student loans in May 2008 from Virginia Military Institute with a B.A. International Studies and Political Science with a minor in Spanish (I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for 3 months), Josh decided to sell his soul for seven years by working in the transportation industry to get out of debt ASAP and focus on doing something else with a better work-life balance.

He is a father of three and has been writing about (almost) everything personal finance since 2015. You can also find him at his own blog Money Buffalo where he shares his personal experience of becoming debt-free (twice) and taking a 50%+ pay cut when he changed careers.

Today, Josh relishes the flexibility of being self-employed and debt-free and encourages others to pursue their dreams. Josh enjoys spending his free time reading books and spending time with his wife and three children.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment:

As Seen In: