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HR Block vs. TurboTax: Cost

Cost is always a consideration when you choose a tax filing service. H&R Block and TurboTax are the two most comprehensive online services available and likewise they are also some of the most expensive. However, while H&R Block was once cheaper than TurboTax, the companies are now nearly perfectly aligned when it comes to cost.

As mentioned, both services offer a free option, covering simple returns. You can also file some additional schedules and forms with this option. However, H&R Block does cover more forms and schedules with its free option. It also allows you to file multiple state returns for free. By contrast, the free plan from TurboTax includes only one free state return. This all gives H&R Block a slight advantage if you qualify for the free option.

It’s great if you can file your taxes for free, but the average filer will need to upgrade to another option. The Deluxe option is enough for many filers. Both Deluxe options include deduction-finding software, help with charitable donations and access to tax financial experts through online chat.

There are a couple of big differences between the options in the forms that they support. TurboTax’s Deluxe option supports Schedule SE, which allows you to file self-employment taxes. It also allows you to file Schedule C and Schedule C-EZ if you have business income to report but do not have any expenses to report.

If price is your primary concern, you may want to consider a cheaper service like TaxAct. TaxAct is well-known for being affordable but it doesn’t quite provide the same level of simplicity and educational material that these two services offer.

Getting Started With TurboTax

Once you create an account or sign in with an existing one, TurboTax helps you select the correct version for your 2021 taxes. It displays several life situations that might affect taxes (owning a home, having children, selling stock, paying off student loans, and so on) and recommends the best solution for you. Once you’ve entered the site, it asks how you did your taxes last year and helps you import that data from TurboTax or another personal tax preparation website. Next, it asks you a second time to indicate which life situations apply to you. Finally, you get a list of the topics you identified as well as the tax documents you’ll need for each, which is very helpful. It also supplies tax tips for some topics.

If you’re using TurboTax for the first time, you have to provide answers to the site’s questions about your personal background, including your address, Social Security number, and occupation, along with several other queries about you and others on the return. If you’ve filed using TurboTax before, the information appears automatically. If you’re new to the site, you can automatically fill in some of that data by scanning the barcode of your driver’s license or state ID. 

When you come to issues that may be confusing, like filing status and dependents, TurboTax Deluxe asks questions and provides extra guidance, just as sites like TaxSlayer do. As you finish, you see a summary of your personal information. The service also asks whether you want to subscribe to MAX Defend and Restore, which includes full audit representation, priority care, and help with identity theft monitoring and identity restoration for $49.

At this point, you’re ready to move on to the meat of the site: entering your income, identifying your deductions and credits, and taking care of other tax-related situations. TurboTax, like some competitors, tries to streamline and accelerate data entry where possible. For example, you can import W-2 data if your employer supports this option or upload a copy of your W-2 to automatically fill in the details. Reporting interest from a Form 1099-INT is similar. You can upload a copy of the form, or you may be able to import the information directly from your bank. Where these options aren’t available, you click through related clusters of questions. Other times, you fill in blank fields.

Why Use DoNotPay to Fight and Waive TurboTax Fees?

At DoNotPay, we have several years of experience helping people waive TurboTax fees and get refunds. We have helped thousands of people file successful appeals.

We make your appeal process faster and easier. You won’t spend too much time filing the appeal, and neither will you have to fill several forms.

Appeal your fees with just a few clicks of a button.

How to Fight and Waive TurboTax Fees on Your Own

To fight or waive TurboTax fees, you should contact customer service. They may ask you to fill out online forms or e-mail the company. TurboTax may reject or accept your appeal based on the facts of your case.

Fighting TurboTax fees can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if unfamiliar with the process. Additionally, there is no guarantee that your appeal will be successful.

TurboTax Deluxe Edition

  • Cost: $39 for federal + $39 for state
  • Should you get it? If the idea of doing your taxes yourself is daunting, then yes. You’ll find comfort in TurboTax’s search of 350+ tax deductions, credits, and homeowner tax breaks to ensure you get the maximum refund.  
  • Free alternative: Prepare your taxes yourself with Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS. You can also avoid the $39 TurboTax fee for state by filing through your state’s website for free.

Comparing The Online “Premium” Tax Filing Software

The Premium pricing tier is the tier that supports “investors”. All three software packages support stock and crypto trading, and they have built-in calculators for landlords.

TurboTax Self-Employed Edition

  • Cost: $89 for federal + $39 for state
  • Should you get it? For peace of mind, yes! Self-employed taxes can be a doozy to figure out, but TurboTax makes it simple by searching for industry-specific deductions and offering guidance on expenses like cell phones, home office supplies, and mileage.
  • Free alternative: Prepare your taxes yourself with Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS. You can also avoid the $39 TurboTax fee for state by filing through your state’s website for free.

TurboTax Deluxe

This is the most popular edition of TurboTax since it’s designed for preparing Form 1040.

You can use this version if you itemize deductions and if your income is too high to qualify for the free edition of the program.

Note: If you’re self-employed or you own rental real estate, you’ll need to use a different edition, which we go over in detail in the next section. 

TurboTax Deluxe comes with all the features of the Free Edition, plus:

  • Deduction Finder. TurboTax searches for more than 350 tax deductions and credits, which can help you get you the biggest refund possible.
  • One-on-one help, on demand. A TurboTax specialist is available to provide customized answers to your tax questions. They can even patch into your computer screen to provide you with the most specific information.
  • Easy importing. If you used TurboTax to prepare your return last year, your information is automatically transferred to this year’s return. You can also import a PDF of last year’s return from other major tax-prep services. Either way, you save time and effort.
  • Your refund in real time. TurboTax software updates your tax refund as you proceed through their questionnaire, which helps you see how information you input impacts your total tax bill (or refund).

Many Security Layers

TurboTax security specialists work with the IRS and state revenue departments to prevent fraud. This dedicated staff is constantly monitoring the site and performing internal checks and external tests. Stored data is always encrypted, as is your return when it’s transmitted to the IRS and state agencies. 

The site supports multi-factor authentication and Touch ID on its smartphone app. You can see a history of your logins and the devices used to access your account, and you’re always notified of any unusual activity on your account, like a password change, payment method update, or login from a new device.

Bottom Line

So, who wins? Well, it depends what exactly you’re looking to do. H&R Block covers more filers with its free option. The two Deluxe options are the same in terms of price, but TurboTax’s Deluxe option supports more forms that self-employed, freelance and contract workers may need. Both services are user-friendly but TurboTax is slightly simpler with more straightforward language.

Beyond these factors, which tax filing service you choose may come down to personal preference. Some people prefer one over the other because they simply like the way it looks. They might also choose H&R Block so they can have the option of filing at a physical location.

Of course H&R Block and TurboTax are not the only two tax filing services. You may want to consider other options like TaxAct or TaxSlayer if you’re looking for a budget option. Credit Karma also allows you to file entirely for free.

Should You Sign Up with TurboTax?

If you decide to use a tax software program, you can’t do better than TurboTax. Not only is it incredibly user-friendly, but you can get help from tax experts at any time during the preparation process. Better yet, TurboTax is actually priced lower for 2021 than it was for the previous tax year. This means you can get the help you need at a lower cost than normal, which means more money in your pocket by the time you file.

The TurboTax Live option, which is available at a very reasonable cost, also enables you to get direct tax preparation assistance from either a CPA or an enrolled agent.

You can work the return as far as you’re able, then bring in the tax expert to help you with what you don’t understand. You can even have that expert help you prepare and complete the return on your behalf, and all through remote access.

As a final important bonus, TurboTax also offers both audit assistance and audit defense — it’s your choice. In the unfortunate event you do face an audit, TurboTax can make sure that you’re not doing it completely alone. And as complicated as the tax code is, that’s an important feature to have.

Comparing The Downloadable Editions Of TurboTax, HR Block, and TaxAct

Tax filers have the option to choose downloadable products rather than using the cloud-based options. Theoretically, downloadable software may be more secure. The only direct risk of hacking is when you e-file your returns. However, these products aren’t risk-free. If your computer has malware, a hacker could steal your information from your computer rather than from a cloud-based server.

Also, we see a lot of issues of people failing to save their return, computers crashing, and more. As such, we typically recommend everyone use the online version.The downloadable function is the same as the corresponding online software, and they typically cost more. If you’re watching prices, you might have some luck shopping on Amazon.com. Choosing the downloadable software is almost always easier and higher-quality than buying a similar product in the store. Plus, Amazon sometimes offers 3% boosts if you choose to accept your return on an Amazon gift card

TurboTax Pricing

TurboTax offers several pricing options, starting from a free version* for users with straightforward tax returns to pricier packages for people who’d rather turn their taxes over to a professional.

Those pricing options generally fall into three categories:

  • Do-it-yourself: If you feel comfortable filing on your own with step-by-step guidance
  • TurboTax Live: To get unlimited help and advice from a tax expert while you do your taxes, plus a review of your return before you file
  • Full Service: A tax expert prepares, signs and files your tax return for you

Currently, those pricing tiers are:

Package Price Includes
Free Edition* $0
  • Free filing of federal and state returns*
  • Covers W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, the Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, the standard deduction, and student loan interest deduction
Do-it-yourself options Deluxe $59 Federal $49 Per State
  • Allows itemized deductions
Premier $89 Federal $49 Per State
  • Allows reporting of capital gains and losses
  • Allows reporting of income and expenses from rental properties and pass-through businesses
Self-Employed $119 Federal$49 Per State
  • Allows reporting of income from a trade or business, contract work, and freelancing
  • Also works for the home office deduction
Basic $79 Federal & State
  • Essentially the free version but with on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return
TurboTax Live Deluxe $119 Federal$54 Per State
  • Everything included in Deluxe, plus on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return
Premier $169 Federal $54 Per State
  • Everything included in Premier, plus on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return
Self-Employed $199 Federal $54 Per State
  • Everything included in Self-Employed, plus on-demand help from a tax pro via video and a final review of your self-prepared return
Basic $199 Federal and State
  • Everything included in the free version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you
Full-Service Deluxe $249 Federal $54 Per State
  • Everything included in the Deluxe version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you
Premier $359 Federal $54 Per State
  • Everything included in the Premier version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you
Self-Employed $389 Federal $54 Per State
  • Everything included in the Self-Employed version, but a tax pro prepares your return for you

*For simple tax returns only. See if you qualify.

These prices reflect the list prices advertised as of Feb. 10, 2022, without any discounts that TurboTax may offer to people who file early in the tax filing season. If you want to pay your filing fee out of your federal refund, TurboTax charges an extra $39 refund processing fee for the convenience.

Other notable features

Both the desktop app and the mobile app make it easy to input information and upload tax documents through TurboTax. You can also upload documents from prior years or from other tax services, and you can even take a photo of your physical documents. If you start and pause the process on one device, it’s easy to resume the process where you left off on another. 

TurboTax offers other useful tools, including a charitable donation calculator (you’ll need an Intuit login to use it) and a refund estimator that consistently updates the figure. Most advantageous, however, is the additional information that’s provided to help you answer your difficult tax questions with simple responses and expanded context. You can delve as deep as you like to resolve a tax matter, depending on what your needs are and how much time you have. 

The mobile app experience is quite good. While I’m not a fan of handling financial matters on my phone — for both personal and practical reasons — TurboTax makes it easy. It’s a bit harder to read the additional information given the smaller screen, but you can still follow along with TurboTax’s interview-based approach on a limited interface. 

You can also choose to receive your refund a few different ways:

  • Direct deposit
  • Turbo Visa Debit Card (you’ll have different options for state taxes, depending on where you live)
  • Paper check
  • Applied to next year’s tax return
  • US savings bond
  • Free partial refund advance (valid through Feb. 15)

What do you get with TurboTax?

  • Guidance for important tax forms. TurboTax tells you what you need to enter to do your taxes based on your unique circumstances. Get step-by-step guidance and directions for most tax forms.
  • Mobile version. Work on your taxes on the mobile or web versions, or switch back and forth. This isn’t available for the desktop version.
  • Easy tax form import and upload. Import many tax forms directly from banks and investment companies. With the mobile app, you can take a photo and upload supported forms. You can also upload your tax return from last year.
  • Detailed help resources. Help and support resources that answer most questions about your taxes with simple and easy-to-follow advice.
  • Option to upgrade for live support. Pay extra and you can talk to an expert at any time in just a few clicks, or hand off your documents to a professional who can do everything for you.
  • Multiple ways to get your refund. You can get your federal refund deposited into your bank account, sent as a check, or loaded onto a prepaid debit card. TurboTax also offers refund advance loans at the beginning of tax season.
  • Tax return storage. TurboTax will store your finished tax returns in your account for up to seven years.
  • Accuracy guarantee. TurboTax will pay IRS penalties and fees related to calculation errors. If it’s determined that you entered information improperly, the guarantee does not apply.
  • Access to Credit Karma’s new checking account. The Credit Karma Money Spend account is fee-free and has no minimum deposit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes—but only if you fit a very specific profile* . Only taxpayers with the simplest returns (generally, this means W-2 income, claiming the standard deduction, and potentially the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credit) qualify for free federal and state tax filing from TurboTax.

Yes,but only for simple filers (generally, this means W-2 income, claiming the standard deduction, and potentially the Earned Income Tax Credit and child tax credit). If you have a more complex return, you will pay $49 to $54 to file each state tax return.

If your employer, payroll provider, or financial institution is a TurboTax Import Partner, you can import your W-2s and 1099s. Otherwise, you can snap a picture and upload it to have the information automatically entered on your return. You may be able to automatically import sales from a brokerage account into TurboTax rather than entering transactions manually.

If the IRS audits a return prepared in TurboTax, you can get free audit support, meaning a TurboTax expert will review correspondence from the IRS and let you know what to expect and how to prepare. However, you’ll need to upgrade to TurboTax MAX to have a TurboTax pro represent you while dealing with the audit. Although TurboTax isn’t the cheapest tax filing option for most users, it’s extremely user-friendly with a user interface and various features that make tax filing easy. If you want to make tax season even more hands-off, you can always upgrade to a full-service package.

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