If filing taxes doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, you should seriously consider making things easier for yourself by using tax preparation software. In this article, we compare two popular tax preparation software solutions—TurboTax and H&R Block—to see which one makes doing taxes the least painful.
TurboTax is an American tax preparation software package developed by Intuit. It was first released in 2001, and new versions are typically released late in the year for TurboTax federal software and mid-January to mid-February for TurboTax state software. Despite its strong competition, TurboTax has established itself as the best-known tax preparation software, which can be largely attributed to its excellent ease of use and reliability. Today, a number of different versions of TurboTax are available, so taxpayers can easily choose a package that fits their needs perfectly.
H&R Block is an American tax preparation company with more than 60 years of history and approximately 12,000 retail tax offices worldwide. In addition to its retail tax and banking services, H&R Block also competes for a share of the digital market with its popular online tax preparation software. Just like TurboTax, H&R Block uses an interview-style process to take the user through the tax preparation process while demystifying all confusing aspects of tax preparation.
The ongoing price war between TurboTax and H&R Block has caused the prices of these two tax preparation software solutions to be very similar.
Both TurboTax and H&R Block have a free version available. The free version of H&R Block supports 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040 (including Schedule A for itemizers), while the free version of TurboTax supports 1040EZ/1040A.
TurboTax offers four paid versions: Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed, and TurboTax Live. The Deluxe version is for people who want to maximize their tax deductions and credits, and it costs $39.99. The Premier version is for people who have investments and rent properties, and it’s priced at $59.99. The Self-Employed version is, well, self-explanatory, and it costs $89.99. TurboTax Live is the latest addition to the lineup of premium products from TurboTax, and it offers CPA or EA advice on demand and a final review for $149.99.
H&R Block is slightly cheaper than TurboTax, starting at $34.99 for the Deluxe Online version and going up to $74.99 for the Self-Employed Online version. Regardless of which version you choose, you can always purchase the Tax Pro Review add-on for $49.99 and have a remote tax professional check your tax return.
The choice between TurboTax and H&R Block largely boils down to personal preference and previous experience. If you already have a TurboTax account or have filed with TurboTax before and don’t have anything against it, it makes sense for you to stick with it. But if you don’t have any previous experience with TurboTax, H&R Block offers virtually the same features and is similarly user-friendly while costing slightly less. It’s also backed by a global network of over 12,000 retail tax offices, which can be tremendously useful if you ever need to solve a more complicated tax problem and would rather handle it in person.