I spoke too soon! Shortly after I prepared my taxes, H&R Block offered me a copy of their online software to review. They also offered me five Premium edition codes to give away. This will allow you to file a free Federal online return using the Premium version of the software, a $55 value including sales tax. State returns are an additional fee. I haven’t been paid for this review and all opinions are my own. Please read the end to find out how to enter the giveaway. I will be choosing a winner at 6 PM PDT, Tuesday, March 22.
H&R Block Overview
Just like last year, I found the interface very user friendly. It’s almost comforting the way it guides you through the process. It starts with a series of check boxes concerning life events. Each section also has additional introductory check boxes that cover items in each of them.
Because I used the boxed software last year, and the online edition this year, I couldn’t import last year’s information, but that wasn’t a huge deal. I will say that you should choose one software version and provider and then stick with it every year. That will save you time on the initial name and address fields. In addition, it imports your employer and deduction data, so you can usually just update the fields.
I went back to correct the charity section, and it started to walk me through the rest of the deductions, too. Like TaxAct, I couldn’t just go directly into the one subtopic I wanted and then leave when that one subtopic was complete. I’m not sure which software allowed me to do that in past, but I liked it. Note to developers – allow quick drop-ins and offer easy outs!
Some things I like better about the charity calculator, some I don’t. It asked me if I wanted to use the DeductionPro tool, so I opted yes. It took me to another domain where I filled everything out. But then the online software couldn’t import it. I entered my deductions directly into the software, and the screens turned out to be exactly the same. I wasn’t sure the DeductionPro tool was at all necessary.
I did like that I only had to enter one address for my charitable goods donation. For my cash/credit donations, I simply listed the charity name. TaxAct made me list more addresses, which was irritating.
The State Form
The state form was easier to use than TaxAct’s version. They had more detailed answers about a couple of the confusing items. The adjustments that TaxAct asked me about either weren’t there or were in a list of items the H&R Block software said it didn’t think I had to worry about.
I did have one odd thing happen, and this is just a rounding difference, but it did result in a tax difference. For this year only, my husband and I qualified for the student loan interest deduction, but we didn’t qualify for all of it, just some of it. H&R Block calculated our deduction at $1 less than TaxAct. That $1 difference resulted in a $12 tax difference, because it put us into a different bracket on the tax table! That’s a problem with the tax code, not the software, but it’s ridiculous nonetheless. These days, all taxes should be calculated by percentage, not tables.
As I said before, I highly recommend H&R Block for first time homeowners or other people who have a big life change that requires extra support. If you have a simple 1040 EZ, the additional cost isn’t worth it, but I felt much better using the more expensive software my first year itemizing.
How to Enter the Giveaway
To enter the giveaway, simply comment on this post by 6PM PDT on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. I will email the five winners individually to connect you to the PR rep at H&R Block. She will provide your code. The drawing has ended. Lisa, Cregan, Jessica, Richard, and Daniel won. Happy tax filing!