H&R Block vs. TurboTax: Which Is Best for Your 2021 Tax Return?

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No one likes filing income tax returns, but platforms such as H&R Block and TurboTax make the process more convenient and less intimidating. Both companies let you work online or download software to prepare returns to print and file by mail.

Both services also give users access to tax professionals who can help you if you get stuck. And while H&R Block has always had tax pros available to complete your returns for you, TurboTax now provides that service, too. Both companies offer COVID-safe virtual tax preparation as well as drop-off service and in-person appointments.

So which online tax service is best? That depends on how complex your tax situation is and how much assistance you need.

This guide provides a breakdown of both tax-filing services to help you decide which one is best for you.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block

Is TurboTax better than H&R Block? For some users, perhaps. Here’s a look at what kind of user is best served by each platform.

TurboTax is best for users who:

  • File simple federal and state returns
  • Don’t mind paying extra for the hand-holding TurboTax’s interview-style interface provides
  • Want to e-file a state return
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H&R Block is best for users who:

  • Need to file one or more prior year returns
  • Have self-employment income and want lower-cost support for reporting business expenses
  • Have simple returns that include child/dependent care deductions, education-related deductions or unemployment income

TurboTax Overview

TurboTax’s simple interface helps users navigate the complex tax-filing process. You start by answering a series of questions designed to help TurboTax accurately assess your tax situation and transfer information to the correct forms so you don’t have to enter it manually.

The free edition covers W-2 income plus the earned income tax credit and child tax credit. Upgraded editions cover additional, more complex situations such as education-related deductions, investment income and capital gains and losses. All editions import return users’ prior-year information.

The TurboTax CompleteCheck feature reviews your completed return to identify possible errors and oversights. You’re then ready to e-file your return or print it to file by mail. In either case, TurboTax walks you through the process.

Users who purchase the Live version of any online edition get on-demand help from a CPA or enrolled agent plus a line-by-line review of your return before you file it. Full Service customers turn over the whole process, from preparing to signing and filing their returns, to a professional. Both of these premium services are available for free to customers with simple returns. Filing deadlines to qualify are Feb. 15 for Full Service and March 31 for Live Basic.

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In addition to the online products, TurboTax offers a downloadable version and a mobile app you can use to complete and file your returns from your phone or tablet. You can also prepare prior-year returns from 2018 to 2020 to print and file by mail.

How Much Does It Cost To File Taxes With TurboTax?

How much you pay for TurboTax depends on the edition and format you use. You can do your taxes online or purchase a downloadable version, which is also available on CD. Live and Live Full Service are extra unless you’re filing a simple return by Feb. 15 for Full Service or March 31 for Live. Live is available with online editions only. Here’s an overview of the different TurboTax editions and options, with their cost:

Tax Software Cost Best For
Free (Basic) • $0 federal and state
• Live Basic: $0 federal and state for returns filed by March 31; otherwise, $79 federal and state
• Live Full Service Basic: $0 federal and state for returns filed by Feb. 15; otherwise, $129 federal and state
Simple tax returns
Deluxe • $39 federal plus $39 per state
• Live Deluxe: $89 federal and $49 per state
• Live Full Service Deluxe: $169 federal and $49 per state
Itemizing deductions and credits
Premier • $69 federal plus $39 per state
• Live Premier: $160 federal plus $49 per state
• Live Full Service Premier: $229 federal and $49 per state
Investors and rental property owners
Self-Employed • $89 federal plus $39 per state
• Live Self-Employed: $169 federal plus $49 per state
• Live Full Service Self-Employed: $259 federal and $49 per state
Entrepreneurs and business owners
Basic (Download) • $40 federal plus $40 to prepare/print unlimited state returns, e-file extra Simple tax returns
Deluxe (Download) • $70 federal and prepare/print one state, $40 each additional state, state e-file extra Maximizing your deductions
Premier (Download) • $100 federal and prepare/print one state, $40 each additional state, state e-file extra Investors and rental property owners
Home & Business (Download) • $110 federal and prepare/print one state, $40 each additional state, state e-file extra Entrepreneurs and business owners
Information is accurate as of Jan. 15, 2022.
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Although most of the downloadable software options cost more than filing online, each purchase includes five federal e-files.

H&R Block Overview

H&R Block is similar to TurboTax in terms of features and the availability of live assistance from a tax professional. The software walks you through entering information about your income, deductions and credits and special situations and reviews your return before you file it.

But H&R Block’s free version of the software includes more forms than TurboTax’s equivalent edition. In addition, H&R Block’s pricing is more straightforward compared to TurboTax.

Like TurboTax, H&R Block has an extensive library of tax tips and information you can use all year long. H&R Block also offers professional tax preparation services for those who decide mid-return that their tax filing is best left to an expert.

How Much Does It Cost To File Taxes With H&R Block?

H&R Block has both online and downloadable software options to guide you through the tax filing process.  Here’s an overview of the different products H&R Block offers, including fees:

Tax Software Cost Best For
Free Online Tax Filing • $0 federal and state return
• Online Assist: $39.99 federal and state return
New filers or simple tax returns
Deluxe Online Tax Filing • $29.99 federal return; $36.99 per state return
• Online Assist: $69.99 federal return and $36.99 per state return
Homeowners and maximizing deductions
Premium Online Tax Filing • $49.99 federal return; $36.99 per state return
• Online Assist: $109.00 federal return and $36.99 per state return
Investors and rental property owners
Self-Employed Online Tax Filing • $84.99 federal return; $36.99 per state return
• Online Assist: $144.99 federal return and $36.99 per state
Self-employed and small-business owners
Basic (Download) $19.95 federal, $39.95 per state, $19.95 per state e-file Simple tax returns
Deluxe + State (Download) $49.95 federal and state, $19.95 per state e-file Homeowners and investors
Premium (Download) $64.95 federal and state, $19.95 per state e-file Self-employed and rental property owners
Premium and Business (Download) $79.95 federal and state, $19.95 per state e-file; unlimited business returns Small-business owners

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Ease of Use

Both platforms are easy to use. For example, both let you upload a PDF of last year’s return so that you can import the information even if you used a different platform. And both prompt you for information needed to complete your forms to eliminate any guesswork on your part.

You can also upload W2s automatically in many cases — Or if the forms aren’t available for import, scan them in by taking a picture with your phone.

TurboTax has a slight edge on H&R Block in that you can pull up a list of documents you need to do your return and view a topic list that shows exactly where you are in the process. And unlike H&R Block, which forces you to work through certain sections before you can move on, TurboTax lets you move freely between sections. Skipping around comes in handy when, for example, you want to start working on deductions because you’ve not yet received all your income statements.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Customer Service

The TurboTax website has an extensive knowledge base and an online community where users and TurboTax employees answer questions, but you’ll have to jump through hoops to talk with a live customer service representative.

From H&R Block’s support page, you can contact an office, get help with your account or request technical support for your tax preparation product. You can also find answers to tax questions and access resources like a tax preparation checklist.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: COVID-19 Resources

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many taxpayers received income like stimulus checks, unemployment compensation and self-employment assistance they’re not sure how to handle on their tax returns. And employees who were forced to work remotely might be eligible for tax deductions they’re unfamiliar with. TurboTax and H&R Block both have COVID-19 sections on their websites to help taxpayers understand how these extraordinary circumstances affect their taxes.

You’ll also find information about the stimulus payments themselves. Both companies offer calculators to help you estimate how much you’ll receive as well as instructions on how to check on your payments and what to do if you haven’t received one or both.

Which Online Tax Service Is Best?

The best tax service for you depends on what you’re looking for. Filers who want a full range of filing options and easy access to customer service are likely to find that H&R Block is better suited to their needs. H&R Block’s strength in both areas, plus its generally lower cost, makes it well worth considering.

H&R Block is also the better choice for anyone with prior-year returns to file. Whereas TurboTax has 2018 to 2020 prior-year products available, H&R Block goes back to 2017.

TurboTax charges a premium price, but users might find its topic directory and flexibility appealing. Although contacting a live support agent can be frustrating, community forums and an extensive knowledge base might suffice for many users. And, of course, free tax preparation makes TurboTax an obvious choice for early filers with simple returns.

TurboTax and H&R Block both provide robust, easy-to-use platforms with free and paid options. And just as important, both companies back their products with accuracy and maximum refund guarantees.

Taylor Bell contributed to the reporting for this article.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by H&R Block or TurboTax. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by H&R Block or TurboTax.

Last updated: Jan. 15, 2022.

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About the Author

Daria Uhlig is a personal finance, real estate and travel writer and editor with over 25 years of editorial experience. Her work has been featured on The Motley Fool, MSN, AOL, Yahoo! Finance, CNBC and USA Today. Daria studied journalism at the County College of Morris and earned a degree in communications at Centenary University, both in New Jersey.
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