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H&R Block Online Tax Filing Review

This article was written by in Reviews, Software, Taxes. 24 comments.

This is a relatively long review of H&R Block’s online tax preparation and filing service. H&R Block has provided Consumerism Commentary with six coupon codes for H&R Block Premium Edition, the most complete service offered by the company.

If you haven’t filed your household’s tax return yet, chances are taxes are on your mind. If you believe you’ll owe money to the government, it makes sense to put off filing as long as possible, up to this year’s filing deadline. If you expect to receive a refund, however, file your taxes early to receive your money faster.

Previously, H&R Block offered a product that allowed customers to get their refund even faster than the few weeks the IRS takes to process, but this year, they are not offering refund anticipation loans. The least expensive and quickest way to receive a refund is to allow the IRS to deposit your refund directly into your bank account, but H&R Block does offer a refund anticipation check, which for a small fee, will provide you with your refund sooner than the IRS will.

Regardless of how you receive your refund, if you don’t visit an H&R Block location, you can file online using their software. Here is what you need to know.

Save 25% on H&R Block At Home Online Premium

Different editions of the software

H&R Block offers four editions of their online software.

The Free Edition should be sufficient for most taxpayers, but keep in mind that H&R Block will charge to file your taxes with your state, even with the Free Edition. For my review, I started with the Free Edition to see how far I could proceed before being required to upgrade to a more advanced and expensive version of the software.

I chose to begin entering my tax information without creating an account to be stored on H&R Block’s servers, even though I know that if I want to save my tax return either to complete at a different time or to finish filing, I’ll need to create one.

H&R Block clearly outlines the tax preparation process into three steps.


For the first step, H&R Block suggests importing a W-2 or 1099 for your income, a feature that requires an upgrade to H&R Block Basic for $19.95. I know that my former employer does not offer W-2, so I skipped this step, opting to input my income manually. The software asks me about any life-changing events during the past year. I selected “lost a job” because I left my corporate employment at the end of the year. I expected some immediate feedback about my life-changing event, but H&R Block proceeded to ask about my filing status (single) and required me to enter my personal information including Social Security number and dependents.

After verifying my personal information, I began the section pertaining to income. This section begins by reviewing a list of my needed documentation for completing this information including a variety of 1099 forms (1099-G, 1099-INT, 1099-MISC, 1099-B, etc.) and any W-2 forms. I pulled up my W-2 online to verify the numbers my former employer reported to the government.

Even before entering any income information, by virtue of the fact I have self-employment and business income, H&R Block informed me an upgrade would be required. For a better look, click on this image to zoom in. Including gains through the sale of investments in your income would require an upgrade, as well. There is no need to get fancy; if you don’t need hand-holding walkthroughs, the H&R Block Basic Edition, the least expensive flavor of the software, is all that’s necessary, although H&R Block recommends the other options, as well.

In fact, they will keep suggesting further upgrades, but if the Free Edition doesn’t contain all the features you need, the Basic Edition will be sufficient.

Adjustments, deductions and credits

I continued through the income section, entering information from my business, and proceeded to the section for adjustments and deductions. After entering the appropriate deductions, H&R provided the opportunity to choose to file using my itemized deductions or the standard deduction, with the total effect on my tax return for each.

Following the deductions, I was prompted to select credits I might qualify for. The Making Work Pay credit was already selected for me, most likely because I had entered W-2 income. The credit section moved quickly for me, and I proceeded to the taxes section, where H&R Block checks for additional taxes or penalties I would be required to pay, such as excess contributions to or early withdrawals from retirement accounts.

Printing and filing the returns

After finishing all sections and reviewing my federal tax return, H&R Block transferred my information to the state return. I entered the information that applies to New Jersey, such as the renter/homeowner rebate. After finishing the forms, I noticed that I did not enter the estimated tax payments I made throughout the year, so I went back to the pages to enter that information for both my federal return and state return.

At this point, H&R Block suggested upgrading to “H&R Block Basic + Best of Both Worlds,” which is an option where the tax returns are reviewed by a local H&R Block office. H&R Block would be the tax preparer of record, so they would responsible to pay any fees due to mistakes on the returns. This service costs $79.95 plus $34.95 for the state return.

In the final stages of filing, H&R Bock allows me to review the charges. I was required to upgrade from the Free Edition to the Basic Edition, so my federal return cost $19.95. The state return cost $34.95. Once filing and providing my banking information for direct deposit, I should receive my refund within ten days.

The first option for paying this fee is H&R Block’s Simple Pay, in which the filing fees are deducted from your refund (if the government owes one to you), for an additional fee. Other options are credit and debit cards, electronic transfer from a bank account, and coupon code. Six lucky Consumerism Commentary will receive a coupon code that will cover the federal and state filing fees, so keep reading to find out how you can enter to win.

Only after paying for the return does H&R Block offer some of its own options for receiving a refund, such as a Refund Anticipation Check. This service, for an additional fee, will provide me with my refund amount quicker than the IRS would produce a check. This might be beneficial to taxpayers who do not have bank accounts for direct deposit and, for whatever reason, need the cash fast. I don’t recommend this for most taxpayers. Open a free bank account and get direct deposit.

Consumerism Commentary is an authorized affiliate of H&R Block. Six giveaway products were provided to Consumerism Commentary free for the benefit of our readers. H&R Block did not compensate Consumerism Commentary for this review.

Photo: socialwoodlands

Updated February 11, 2014 and originally published February 21, 2011. If you enjoyed this article receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I normally use turbotax but I would like to try hr block tax program also.

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avatar 2 tbork84

I would definitely try it out,

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I usually go to the IRS for a free file, but I would love to try H&R.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

A RAC or refund anticipation check does not give you the money faster than the IRS. They wait for the IRS to deposit to them, then they cut you a check.

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avatar 5 Luke Landes

It does if you don’t have a bank account. The IRS would need to send you a check, which takes longer than direct deposit. I’m not advertising for the company, but with a refund anticipation check, the refund from the IRS is directly-deposited into H&R Block’s account, and H&R block produced the check immediately. That’s faster than receiving a check from the IRS.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Then you should qualify your statement in the article. I work for H&R Block, and a lot of my clients choose the direct deposit option with the RAC, which actually takes LONGER than a direct deposit from the IRS.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

I have never used H&R block, but I need their guidance.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

Great piece, thanks!

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avatar 9 TakeitEZ

I have used H & R block online for the past two years and I am very satisfied with their product. Very easy and simple to use.

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avatar 10 skylog

count me out for the contest, but thank you for another great opportunity!

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avatar 11 eric

I’ll give it a shot. Thanks Flexo!

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avatar 12 Anonymous

Please enter me! I usually use TurboTax but I’m willing to try this one!

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avatar 13 Anonymous

Left a comment on your FB post!

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avatar 14 Anonymous
avatar 15 Anonymous

Sign me up! Sounds great! :)

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avatar 16 Anonymous

thanks for the giveaway. will tweet later :)

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avatar 17 Anonymous

I’ve never used H&R Block, but I think this could be really helpful for me!

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avatar 18 Anonymous

My tax situation changed so much in 2010 that I definitely need this to help me out.

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avatar 19 Anonymous

I’ve used them before and so far so good

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avatar 20 Anonymous

If you do the 1040EZ online, is there a way to see the 1040 EZ form?

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avatar 21 Anonymous

I have used H&R for the past 4 years have been very satisfied until now. When a problem occurs H&R definitely bails on you, and they do all they can to make it look bad on you and not them. I am very disappointed in their service and will be using a different tax prepare next year.

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avatar 22 Anonymous

I just found out that H&R block, did not file my state taxes.. yet they took my 39.95 with no worries.. now I’m facing penalities with the state and no one at H&R block seems to be able to help.. very very disappointed.

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avatar 23 Anonymous

How can I upgrade from basic to deluxe in the middle of my return?

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avatar 24 Anonymous

The sneaky $34.95 is absolutely cheating most of the users. On the UI there is no other options clearly listed, so most of users will be fooled to choose RAC, and then be charged $34.95 as “tax preparation fee” (indeed it is NOT). I doubt this is already illegal.

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