H&R Block Online Review – 2014 Tax Year Features and Screenshots

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Here is my 2014 review of H&R Block Online DIY tax preparation software, to complement my TurboTax 2014 review and TaxACT 2014 review. I filed my personal tax return using each of the “Big 3” and I will try to share the overall experience along with their specific strengths and weaknesses.

Price
H&R Block Online comes in Free, Basic, Deluxe, and Premium tiers. Due to having stock sales but no self-employment deductions, I am going with H&R Block Deluxe Online which costs $29.99 for Federal and $36.99 for State (free state options may be available separately). I am reviewing the more popular online software, not the desktop download software which may be different both in user experience and price.

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Tax Situation
Here’s a quick summary of our personal tax situation.

  • Married filing jointly, subject to state income tax
  • Both with W-2 income, as well as some simple 1099-MISC forms.
  • Interest income and dividend income from bank accounts, stocks, and bonds (Schedule B).
  • Contribute to retirement accounts (401ks and IRAs).
  • Capital gains and losses from brokerage accounts (Schedule D).
  • Itemized deductions (Schedule A), including property taxes and charitable giving.

User Interface and User Experience
In terms of overall visual feel, the 2014 user interface is clean and pleasant. If I was comparing with TurboTax and TaxACT, I would say H&R Block is a little less pleasing than TurboTax and a little more pleasing than TaxACT. All of them are perfectly acceptable, but that is my personal ranking. See screenshots throughout this review.

In terms of user experience, H&R Block also uses a question-and-answer format like other tax prep software, but I actually think they have the best layout for intermediate to advanced users (i.e. you’ve done your taxes online before). Before each major section (Income, Deductions, Credits), it present a long checklist of potential items to enter in. You just tick off the ones you need, instead of repeatedly reading a new screen for each little thing and clicking Yes, No, No, No, Yes, No, etc. It know it may sound insignificant, but it really does speed things up with everything on one screen. Here are partial screenshots to help explain:

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Importing Data From Previous Years
You can pull up all of your old tax information for free from any of the Big 3 providers (H&R Block, TurboTax, TaxACT) as long as you are using Basic, Deluxe, or Premium (no Free). You may need to have the information downloaded in PDF format. You’ll get filing status, dependents, address, DOB, SSN, etc.

Importing W-2 and 1099 Forms Directly From Providers
Similar to TurboTax, H&R Block also automatically imports many W-2 and 1099 forms. You can pull up W-2 data using your employer’s tax ID number (EIN). My data point: the same W-2 that TurboTax imported, H&R Block did successfully as well (TaxAct could not).

H&R Block does not appear to publish a list of all their 1099 import partners, but I would say it is a little smaller than TurboTax and much more than the 6 partners that TaxACT supports. You just start typing the name and it tries to autocomplete if available:

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Here is a partial sampling of eligible financial institutions:

  • ADP Retirement Services
  • Alliant Credit Union
  • Ally Bank
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Bank of America
  • Betterment
  • Charles Schwab
  • Chase Bank
  • Citibank
  • Discover Bank
  • E*Trade
  • Edward Jones
  • Fidelity
  • Gainskeeper
  • Interactive Brokers
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union
  • Scottrade
  • Sharebuilder
  • T Rowe Price
  • TD Ameritrade
  • TIAA-CREF
  • TradeKing
  • USAA, USAA Federal Savings Bank
  • Vanguard Brokerage, Mutual Funds
  • Wells Fargo Bank, Advisors

I’m a fan of automatic import because it both saves time and reduces data entry errors. I did have a couple of hiccups with the import, however. I suspect that the problem is the same as I had with TurboTax – that the file is not ready for electronic import yet even though it is available in physical form. Some patience may be in order?

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The Small Stuff

  • When entering charitable donations of physical goods, H&R Block did not provide any assistance as to valuing the object. (TurboTax and TaxACT did.)
  • When entering my 1099-MISC information, H&R Block quickly allowed me to indicate that it was not a business and instead a one-time event. That saved me from answering a lot of unnecessary questions.

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  • Starting in the 2014 tax year, you’ll have to have health insurance or else pay a penalty. I indicated to H&R Block that I had employer-provided coverage for the entire year, and it did not ask for further proof or documentation.

Upselling and Price Change Tricks?
I was not presented with any upsell attempts to their Premium tier and there were no price change shenanigans, which was nice. They also had no need to offer me $40 “audit protection” because it is already included in the price. H&R Block’s “Free In-person Audit Support” is definitely a differentiating factor for the audit-fearing folks out there. In the unlikely event of an audit, an H&R Block Enrolled Agent will help you communicate with the IRS, prepare for the audit, and will attend the audit with you (though they do not provide legal representation).

The only upsell was for their “Best of Both” package, which for $50 lets you have an H&R Block human discuss and review your return with you:

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H&R Block also keeps your past returns for up to 6 years for free, so there is no option to pay more for “data archiving”. Seriously, how much space on a hard drive could it possibly take?

TL;DR Recap
hrb2014_logoH&R Block did my taxes properly and covered the same topics as their competitors. I actually liked H&R Block’s Q&A format a little better than either TurboTax or TaxACT, assuming you have done your taxes online at least once or twice before; it may save you some time.

I would say that H&R Block Deluxe’s value proposition is this: it offers most of the added import conveniences of the similar TurboTax Premium, all at a fraction of the cost ($30 vs. $55 Federal, both $37 State). If you have a lot of stock sales from a specific broker, sign up for a account (they are all free to try; you only pay when you file) and go straight to the 1099 section to see if the H&R Block supports it. H&R Block also offers free in-person audit support, which costs $45 from TurboTax and $40 from TaxACT.

Bottom line: H&R Block Online offers most of the time-saving features of TurboTax for a lower price ($30 vs. $55 Federal, both $37 State), plus it includes free audit support which costs $40+ with other services.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.



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Comments

  1. Excellent review!
    Keep up the good work.
    Thank you.

  2. I’ve used “best of both” for several years now and for people with slightly more complicated tax returns it is an amazing bargain at $79.95 and the assistance you receive is fast and of excellent quality. And if nothing else, its nice to have someone review your work to insure everything is accurate.

  3. You did not include info about the true bottom line.

    Did all three products produce the same refund or tax due amount at the end on the first go around or did they produce different results that required you to go in and figure out where one product worked differently than the other.?

    That was a problem that I had.

  4. I’ve used H&R Block online for years. Last year I filed out my return with both TurboTax and H&R Block to see which would provide a bigger return using the same inputs. H&R Block provided a bigger return.

    You mentioned that H&R Block doesn’t help value charitable goods. They actually do, perhaps it’s only available in the Premium tier, which is what I use.

    • Interesting, I was not offered any option, I just picked the thrift store valuation method on the pull-down method and that was it… would have been a good way to upsell if the feature was only included in Premier.

  5. So $67 for both federal and state, or just $37?

  6. So Jonathan, which site are you going to use for your return?

  7. Thank you Jonathan, excellent review.

    H&R Block Deluxe is good but using data entry with TaxAct in the original for my forms 8949, 1099 int, 1099 div, etc. is very accurate.
    I do not like imports from Scottrade. This time, they had 2 mutual funds sale cost basis with more than $4,000, wrong. (if you want something done right, do it yourself).
    Using the new Taxact Online was a breeze. It took 9 days only for the IRS to refund my checking account (direct deposit).
    TaxAct was right in their FAQ. IRS direct deposit is done Wednesday only.

  8. I have some 1099’s with expenses. should I use premium or deluxe? In the past, I’ve used deluxe. Am I missing out?

    Good reviews!

    • You can try to start with deluxe but if they deem your situation too complicated they may tell you to upgrade.

      • Last question: I’ve used my parents licenses to do my taxes the last few years. If they use hr block again, could I use one of their licenses but on my computer? Or do they all have to be on the same computer?

  9. Warning! Bait and switch (or did I just file after they upped the price)? I just did my taxes online with HR Block Deluxe and was charged $49.99 (fed) and $39.99 (state). How did I miss out on $67 total for both Fed and State for H&R Block Deluxe??

  10. H&R block DOES NOT import Wells Fargo Advisors and never has. This is an error in this review. Wasted the cost of the product, had to go back and buy Turbo Tax to get that feature.

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