This weekend, I did my taxes using two online tax software packages. I’ll post tax software reviews for each today and tomorrow. Today I’ll start with H&R Block’s Tax Cut Online. I was fortunate to win a free federal return from The Digerati Life, but anyone can use the software for free. You won’t be able to print out and review your turn without coughing up a credit card, though.

I’ve been using online tax software for about ten years now, so I have experience with these programs. I started with Web Turbo Tax, then went in search of other programs when I lost free access to that. This was my first time with Tax Cut Online.

Tax Cut Online Cost

You have three options from the start:

  • Basic + e-file for $14.95
  • Premium + e-file for $19.95
  • Premium + State + e-file for $49.95.

The latter two include on Ask a Tax Advisor session. All three come with their Worry-free Audit Protection.

Tax Software Interface
I really liked the gentle interface. It was welcoming, comforting, and easy to use. Everything was clearly explained and information or answers were easy to find. It was a very intuitive program.

This is the entrance screen after you register:

H&R Block entrance screen

The site allows you to save and exit at any time. Once you log back in, this is the screen you see:

H&R Block return sign in

I found the design welcoming and comforting. It is branded in the H&R Block colors, but in a soothing palette. My favorite feature of any tax software is the progress in the upper right. This is where they show you what you owe or what you will be receiving back. H&R Block also shows you the most common questions related to the section you’re working on in the right-hand pane.

Refund amount and help screen

They ask questions in a basic format, as you can see in the filing status question:

tax filing status

In some sections, such as your wage and withholding information, you can watch a movie about the section. They also provide a list of all the documents you need to gather:

required tax documents

Small Business Help
If you have a small business, I recommend using the Premium software to ensure you get the detailed help for your Schedule C. H&R Block takes you through the detailed questions to properly complete all the forms.

Tax Cut Pro business screen

Negative Aspects
Although I found the H&R Block interface easy to use and the software was detailed and accurate, there were three aspects that were off-putting

  1. A request to use my information to sell me other services
  2. An offer to have a pro review my taxes

If I’m entering detailed personal information into their tax software, I don’t want them using it to sell me other products and services. I checked the “no” box, but I was still very annoyed that they even asked.

At another point during my return preparation, the software offered to have a pro look at my return for an extra $50. If their software is that good, why would I need to have a pro review it? I’m certainly not going to pay someone to push the “send” button for me.

Edited: As you can see in the comment below, H&R Block doesn’t sell customer information to anyone, so I removed that from my review. They also don’t sell refund anticipation loans in TaxCut (which is good).

Use or Don’t Use?
In all, I found the Tax Cut Online tax software to be easy to use. I didn’t however, feel that it was worth the extremely high price once the state software was included. I was also very turned off by the shilling for their loans and other services during the process.

If you want to use a name-brand and are very concerned about being audited, then Tax Cut Pro may be good for you. If you live in an income tax state, then I would use a different service. Tomorrow I’ll review TaxAct Online, a good alternative for personal and schedule C forms.

Comments

3 Responses to “Tax Software Reviews: H&R Block Tax Cut Pro”

  1. Derek Swords on February 22nd, 2008 7:01 am

    Hi Aryn. Thanks for the feedback on TaxCut. I’m glad you found it easy to use.

    Just wanted to assure you that we do not in any way sell your personal information to third parties.

    We do offer IRA’s and Mortgage products to customers because this can have a direct impact on how much taxes they owe the government. We ask for persmission before presenting these offers.

    We do not sell Refund Anticipation Loans in TaxCut this year. (Although these products are available via our Offices.)

    We appreciate the feedback and hoe you give us a try again next year!

    Sincerely,

    Derek Swords
    Direct TaxCut Product Management

  2. Aryn on February 22nd, 2008 9:17 am

    Thank you, Derek! I’m glad to know that you don’t sell customer information to anyone! I’ve updated my review to reflect your clarifications.

  3. Fred Geldon on February 17th, 2009 12:32 am

    TaxCut has another negative aspect – it does not import information from investment brokers (Merrill Lynch, etc.) TurboTax does. That’s a huge time saver (and accuracy enhancer) if you have a lot of trades or other divident/interest information.

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