Year after year, I had filed my tax returns online with TurboTax and never thought anything of it. My tax situation was pretty simple to understand. I had one job on the books and had enough federal income tax taken out of my weekly checks to receive a nice hefty refund. After about 10 minutes of running through the software, I e-filed and patiently awaited for my refund to be deposited directly into my checking account.
This year, however, I became self-employed, which means my tax classification became a lot more complicated. When you add in the fact that my previous employer wasn’t kind enough to send my W-2 on time and that I now pay a boatload of student loan interest every year, the free edition of Turbo Tax wasn’t cutting it. For the first time in my life, I decided to file my taxes online with H&R Block at home, and I couldn’t be happier.
I decided to sign up for the deluxe edition of H&R Block at home because that was the best one for my needs. In choosing H&R Block, I have the option to either file my taxes online or download their tax software for an online or paper file. The prices for the download are slightly higher, but all H&R Block packages are reasonably priced as follows: (State returns are additional on all plans)
Note: The links below go directly to the H&R Block tax software website with discounted pricing on all products.
- Free Edition ($0.00 / online only) – Similar to what other free tax filers provide, H&R Block will take you through your return step-by-step and allow you to e-file your return. This edition is best suited for individuals who have one “on the books” job without a lot of investments or real estate to worry about.
- Basic Edition ($19.95 online / $19.95 download) – Nothing special to report here–simply the free version in down-loadable form.
- Deluxe Edition ($29.95 online / $44.95 download) – This was the edition that suited my needs best because I was self-employed, and it provides audit support in case I really messed up somewhere. This edition is also perfect if you are a heavy investor and need to declare your profits and dividends.
- Premium Edition ($49.95 online / $64.95 download) – The premium edition has everything the deluxe edition has plus a few additional features. Two of those features are a live session with an H&R Block tax expert and an extra section for real estate ventures.
- Business Edition ($79.95 / download only) – If you need help with a corporation, LLC, estates, non-profit organizations or other types of businesses, this is the edition for you. H&R Block will also give you business tax advice for future returns.
- Best of Both Edition ($99.95 / online only) – If you are nervous about filing your own taxes, you don’t have to be because an H&R Block professional will review the return you put together, make sure it is 100% accurate based on your documents and give you the H&R Block guarantee, which means that if you are penalized by the IRS as a result of the tax professional’s mistake, H&R Block will absorb 100% of the costs. Those that are unsure about their taxes can utilize this edition, which should help in preparing your taxes in the future.
When filing with Turbo Tax in previous years, the entire process took me around 30 minutes from start to finish. A lot of that had to do with the simplicity of my filing status. Only reporting once source of revenue, a few deductions and a credit or two rapped things up pretty quickly. When filing for the first time with H&R Block, I expected the process to be much longer, and it was. Almost two hours long.
Even though it took a good amount of my time to complete, there was not a single instance of confusion or perplexity because every minor detail had an FAQ section and recommendations were made to questions I had not been asked on previous returns. The process was very straightforward and was split into four sections.
- Personal Information – You can’t do anything these days without the basics and entering your general personal information is a cinch. Nothing out of the ordinary and in 5 minutes it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes.
- Income- I had two forms of income this year, one coming from a 9-5 job and the other coming from my contracting work after leaving the office for good. Entering my W-2 was painless and entering my 1099 was also easy. With each new document that I entered, my refund meter continued to change positively and negatively. I was terrified to see at one point in the process, I owed the government money!
- Deductions – Never being one to deduct much, this year wasn’t any different, and I once again claimed a standard deduction. Now being self-employed, almost assuredly for the entire year, I will need to think about claiming some home office deductions and such, but I still don’t think it will be enough to get over the “hump”.
- Credits- Finally, the most exciting of all tax return sections is the credits section because it changes every year. H&R Block took me through pages and pages worth of available credits, some of which I had no idea existed and even though I didn’t qualify for any of them, I’m already thinking of ways that I can next year!
After finishing up everything above, I was given a page which summarized my tax return. The summary showed me the amount of federal taxes I already paid for the year, what I still owed, the amount of self-employment tax (I hate that tax!) that I needed to pay, the amount of my deductions and credits, then finally the number that mattered, my refund. Extremely satisfied with what I saw, I e-filed the return and 12 hours later, they were accepted by the IRS. According to the refund schedule, I am due to receive my direct deposit refund on Friday the 12th. Wooo-Hooo!
Having used H&R Block, I have the freedom to log in and out of my account (landing page above) and review my returns. Printing them was a snap and even though the process took longer than I anticipated, it was so easy that I didn’t mind at all. Using another tax software may have been just as easy but for me, the price was right and the service was fantastic. H&R Block will definitely be getting by business in 2010 and beyond.