H&R Block Review 2021
It’s tax time again and you’ve got less than a month to get all your documents together, do all the math, and get your taxes filed on time to (hopefully) receive a refund.
If you're thinking about doing your taxes yourself this year, there are lots of different software packages that will help you make quick work of this annoying task. One of the biggest names in old-school tax preparation is H&R Block, and they also offer free online software that lets you do your taxes yourself.
Is H&R Block the tax company you should use? Let's take a look at whether it's right for you in this H&R Block tax review.
Table of Contents
An H&R Block Review 2021
If you’re thinking of filing your taxes with H&R Block this year, you can learn more about the company, how it works, how much it costs, and much more below.
H&R Block: How It Works
In the old days, getting H&R Block to do your taxes meant getting all your paperwork together and taking it in-person to their office or the temporary mall kiosk to hand all of your documents over to a certified accountant.
Today, you can still head to an H&R Block store to do your taxes, but you can also do your taxes online yourself.
To file your taxes with H&R Block, all you have to do is create an account, and H&R Block’s software will ask you questions to set up your return with everything you need.
Canadian customers can log in with their CRA account to automatically import tax slips, and US customers can save time by submitting a picture of their paper documents.
Once the system has collected all the information it needs, you can review your work and file your taxes. At any point in the process, you can access H&R Block’s online help center or you can upgrade to a paid option to get live tech support and even get help from a tax professional.
H&R Block: Products
If you want to file your taxes yourself, you can use H&R Block’s free online tax service.
The software lets you log in using your web browser, provides helpful prompts so that you can complete your return, and shows you all the details about any refund or amount owing you might have.
If you need more help, H&R Block online lets you upgrade to a paid plan that includes tech support via live chat or phone. They also offer paid advice from a tax professional for an additional cost.
If you’re not comfortable with doing your taxes, you can also bring your documents to an H&R Block office or take advantage of their premium online service that lets you give your taxes to an expert without having to leave your home.
For customers in the US who have more complicated situations, like state tax, income from rental properties, or an HSA, H&R Block also offers a paid version of their online tax filing software that supports more complex returns.
H&R Block: Fees
If you want to file your taxes online, and you don’t expect to need much help, you can do your taxes for free with H&R Block.
If you want to file your taxes online and do need help, you can pay to upgrade to one of their premium online services.
- US customers can upgrade to packages starting at $49.99 + $44.99 per state filed.
- Canadian customers will pay up to $39.99 for unlimited priority support.
To hand your taxes over to an expert who will do them for you, US customers with simple returns will pay $69 plus a state filing fee.
The cost for Canadian customers depends on how complex your tax situation is, but H&R Block says most of their customers in Canada pay less than $100.
A local office I called said their service would probably start around $50 for the most basic return.
If you live in Canada, H&R Block can deduct their fee from your refund, so you won’t have to pay them out of pocket. And you can get your refund instantly for – you guessed it – a fee that works out to 15% of the first $300 and 5% of any additional refund.
H&R Block: Customer Support
If you’re looking for a free option to file your taxes, H&R Block is a great choice. But if you need more help and support, you’ll have to pay for it.
H&R Block doesn’t offer any live tech support with its free product. Their premium offers, which include priority support through live chat and telephone, start at $19.99 in Canada and a hefty $69 in the US.
H&R Block also offers paid access to a tax expert who can review your taxes, answer questions, and guide you through the process for, yep, an additional fee.
H&R Block: Accessibility
Technology, fortunately, isn’t an issue when it comes to H&R Block. Whether you use the free online version of H&R Block’s software or upgrade to one of the paid options, you can use any device to do your taxes including a laptop, tablet, or phone.
And of course, if you choose to do your taxes in-person, you can get it done with an old-fashioned paper map and your own two feet.
Where Accessibility is concerned, customers with disabilities may prefer to file their taxes in an office where they can meet face to face what’s the person doing their taxes. H&R Block doesn’t offer any indication of what – if any accessibility features their online software includes.
H&R Block Pros & Cons
Pros: The Good Stuff
Great support if you need it, and if you’re willing to pay. Whether you need technical help navigating the software, or a tax expert to help you work through the details of your forms, H&R Block has somebody who can help you. US customers can even share their screen with a tax expert to look things over, live and one-on-one.
You can get started for free. H&R Block makes it easy to start with their free service, and you only have to pay if you decide you want to upgrade.
Free online tax filing. Customers with relatively straightforward taxes who don't mind doing the work themselves can file online for free with H&R Block.
Lots of ways to get your taxes done. H&R Block lets you do your taxes online yourself, work with an expert online, or take your taxes to an office.
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
The free version doesn't include any support. If you use H&R Block’s free online tax service, the only support you can get is via email - and that's limited, at best. If you think you'll need any tech support or help from a tax pro, you'll need to upgrade to one of their paid options.
The paid options are expensive. US customers will pay a minimum of $49.99 plus a $44.99 per state filing fee to access one of H&R Block’s premium tax services
Canadian customers can get limited support starting at $19.99 per return, and prices quickly go up from there depending on what you need.
There doesn't seem to be an easy way to move from H&R Block’s online service to an office. If you get frustrated and decide you want to take your taxes into an office instead, you'll probably have to start from scratch.
Free software limitations for US customers. If you live in the US your taxes include trickier things like an HAS, rental income, or self-employment income, you might not be able to get your taxes done without upgrading to one of H&R Block’s paid options.
Our Final Thoughts
If you’ve got things under control and you need a way to get your taxes done for free and don’t think you’ll need any help along the way, H&R Block is a great option.
Similarly, if you don’t have things under control and think you’ll need a lot of help or someone to do your taxes for you, H&R Block is also a great option.
It’s if you’re in between those two extremes that H&R Block might not be the best for you.
If you think you’ll need a little bit of help or minor hand-holding along the way, you’ll probably find H&R Block’s lack of support for free customers frustrating and the price point for support too high.
If that sounds like you, you might want to look for another tax filing service that includes some support at a lower price point.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can file your taxes for free with H&R Block if you're willing to do it yourself, online, with absolutely no help.
The exception to this is if you live in the US and have more complicated taxes like rental property income or an HSA.
If that sounds like you, you might not be able to get your taxes done for free with H&R Block.
H&R Block is a public company that's traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Many of their local offices are franchised, meaning the H&R Block kiosk in your local mall, or the office you pass on your walk to work may be owned by a company or individual who's paid for the rights to use H&R Block's name and products.
Accounting practices are strictly regulated in the US and Canada, so you can trust that the person doing your taxes is doing things by the book regardless of whether you choose a franchised or corporate location.
Yes! If you're self-employed, H&R Block can definitely help you with your taxes.
Customers in Canada will be able to file a free return online that includes self-employment income just the same as if they were paid by an employer.
US customers can upgrade to H&R Block’s Self-employed Tax Filing Service for $109.99 + $44.99 for each state filed.
If you're self-employed and prefer to hand your taxes over to an expert, H&R Block can help you with that as well, but it might cost you more to file due to the complexity of your return.