TurboTax vs H&R Block Online: Which Is Better?

by Ron Haynes

I’ve used H&R Block Online (formerly TaxCut) for 17 years and I’ve never had a problem of ANY sort with their tax preparation software, their electronic income tax filing, or their Worry-Free Audit support. But I’ve always wondered about using TurboTax. Was it easier to use? Was it more intuitive? Would it calculate my taxes any differently than H&R Block Online?

After purchasing TurboTax AND H&R Block Online for the current tax year, I was about to find out.

What’s new in tax preparation software

The buzzword phrase in tax preparation software this year seems to be “user-friendliness.” It’s all the rage and both TurboTax and H&R Block Online are fighting for the rights to claim that niche. What that means for you is your 10 year old could probably do your taxes. Yes, the language has been THAT simplified.

Both software packages allow you to import W-2’s and even some 1099’s. Both have refund meters, free basic return preparation, and support tools and services that they’re justifiably proud of and both offer tools to help you identify tax issues (consequences?) related to life changes. Both offer software upgrades that allow you to prepare your own corporate, partnership or LLC returns. But beware: there are many traps for the uninformed and uninitiated. Tax professionals receive up to 50 hours or more of training classes each year  related to these types of returns and it isn’t because someone promises to bring doughnuts to the class. Business taxes are particularly complicated without a tax pro or software to help you out!

Both sets of software offer help if you’re audited, though you’ll have to pay for it. Both offer free federal online tax return preparation and e-filing if you meet certain qualifications (TurboTax is better though) and both guarantee to give you the maximum deductions you can possibly get as well as the maximum refund you’re owed. There were some minor differences in the prices of certain products.

TurboTax features vs. H&R Block Online features

Feature H&R Block Online TurboTax
Free version Yes Yes
Basic version $19.95 $19.99
Deluxe version $29.95 $29.99
Premier version $49.95 $49.99
State return $34.95 $36.99
Phone support Yes Yes
Online chat Yes Yes
Email support Yes Yes
Audit support Free Free – online tools
Try it for free Yes Yes
Charity tool Yes Yes
Free e-file? Free Yes
Business returns $79.95, includes business, 1 personal state $74.99, states extra

So … which one was better?

They’re comparable in almost all areas and the pricing is virtually the same so it all boils down to ease of use.

The Winner?

I’m going to have to call it for TurboTax. It just felt more user-friendly and natural to use plus their phone support answered a lot more quickly. I liked their text bubbles that would explain crazy tax jargon and guide me through my tax return. And TurboTax also warned me to save my progress before changes could be lost. Anyone who has ever lost a lot of data knows how important it can be to save your work! TurboTax also allowed me to bookmark any sections or pages I wanted to return to later.

TurboTax also has kept that nifty little “GPS” type of feature that shows you where you are in the process. It makes completing your taxes a little less stressful and boring when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Though both sets of software had a refund meter, only TurboTax had an “audit triggers meter,” which calculated my chance of being audited. TurboTax also double-checked my W-2 for proper Federal Income Tax, Social Security, and Medicare withholdings. Having written about entries that could trigger a tax audit, I was glad to have this feature with TurboTax.

H&R Block Online is a great product, don’t get me wrong. It was accurate and has been dependable for over 14 years for me personally. I also like that there are offices available where I can go for help if I REALLY mess things up, … but my personal preference has changed over to TurboTax. Maybe H&R Block Online will sit up and take notice and make their product more user-friendly. I’ll just have to check back next year!

Thankfully, there hasn’t been too many tax law changes this year and the IRS is able to receive returns much earlier than last year, so what are YOU waiting for?

Start your taxes for FREE with Turbo Tax and pay only after you file!

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.


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{ 11 comments }

Carly

Has anyone compared TurboTax & H&R Block Online to TaxAct?

Ron

Not me! I just did my taxes TWICE. Ugh.

Lindsey Amsler

I did my taxes first with turbo tax then with H&R Block Online. Turbo Tax was trying to give me $510 while H&R Block was going to give me $1,175… Can you guess which one I went with?? Why the huge difference???

Sean

I’m using Tax Act because it was only $19.99 for Federal and State , but I AM HATING IT.

Constantly tries to upgrade and get more money out of you. It is making me go through a Q&A process that is a pain. I already know what I can declare but it is now forcing me to do it, slow and painful. It also wouldn’t import my last years H&R Block, didn’t like the format and I tried everything. I think I’m almost ready to scrub it and get the H&R. So far as Turbo Tax goes, I had a bad experience with them about 10 years ago, they would only let you install it on once and memory was an issue then. So when I backed up the return but removed the program. I couldn’t reinstall it, had to send them money to unlock it again the following year. So I’m boycotting them still, even though they don’t do that any more.

Alex

I’ve used TurboTax since 2006, and problems started to arise since 2008. I had a bad experience with them in 2008, which I accidentally created a form by mistake, and the program wouldn’t let me delete it. And with the form unfilled, it would not let me file my returns. After an hour on the phone with tech support, they still could not resolve it. At the end, I found a way to resolve the problem myself, by filling in “zeros” on the form.

This year, I used H&R Block and everything was fine.

ray

dude, sounds like YOU messed up – not the software. i prefer h&r block but put the blame where it belongs.
garbage in … and you’re the one who dumped it …

Kristen

But did you get the same amount of money from both on your return? That would be my most important issue; they both offer maximum refund.

Ron

Actually, I did. Well, it was within two dollars. That could easily be due to rounding.

Krysten

H&R Block offers much better services for those who are self-employed. Turbo Tax doesn’t even compare – it’s almost like they don’t have a clue what to do or ask if you’re self-employed. We get a far better return using H&R Block.

Elena

Thanks for doing the legwork so we don’t have to! I appreciate it!

Hank

I agree. I have used H&R Block since around year 2000 and I liked it. This year, I purchased both TurboTax and H&R Block. As usual, I had a lot of problems with H&R Block importing some of my 1099 forms from brokerages. This is very important to me because of some very lengthy 1099 forms. With TurboTax, the imports went smooth as silk and I knocked out my taxes in about two hours (it wouldn’t have taken me that long if I had been familiar with the program.

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