I’ve used H&R Block Online (formerly TaxCut) for 14 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?
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|
|Audit support||Free||Free – online tools|
|Try it for free||Yes||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.
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?