Tax Tools

TurboTax Deluxe and H&R Block at Home Premium are the two top selling tax software preparation programs. Both have high reviews but there is a definite difference in pricing between the two. The Online price difference between the two can be negligible, but the Desktop version of TurboTax will definitely cost you more, sometimes $30.00 more and that can mean substantial savings if you use the Desktop H&R Block rather than TurboTax.

The Tax Interview and the guarantees in place with each are much the same. Both will give you the option of going through every single question regardless of its pertinence to your particular tax situation, but both will also allow you to just visit those questions that pertain to your situation.

Tax information import can be critical, so this is where one may be more advantageous over the other, regardless of the money savings.

H&R Block transfers and imports data from:

  • Many financial institutions and/or employers and will import both 1099 and W-2 data.
  • It’s own donation tracking software
  • The Desktop software will import the prior year’s tax data from both Quicken and Microsoft Money.
  • Prior year returns that were prepared at H&R Block offices, with TurboTax desktop software and from TaxCut Online or Desktop.
  • TurboTax will transfer and import data from:

  • Most financial institutions and/or employers and will import W-2s, 1099s and 1098s.
  • TurboTax, TaxACT and TaxCut prior tax returns, but only with TurboTax for windows.
  • Quicken versions from 2007-2010
  • QuickBooks 2007 and later versions but only with the use of TurboTax for Windows Desktop, not the online version or TurboTax for Mac.
  • Its own donation software will import to Windows, Mac and TurboTax Online versions.
  • Both programs will allow you to print your return for mailing and for filing with your records and both will also allow you to e-file your taxes. The desktop versions of both allow you to print multiple copies, while the online versions only allow the printing of one. If you need more than one, it is simple enough to copy your already printed return. Each online version allows one federal e-file, while the desktop versions of both allow five e-files of the federal return. The biggest cost difference is that TurboTax charges an additional $37 for your online state version, with the e-file cost for filing your State return included. The desktop version charges you a $19.95 filing fee in order to e-file your state return. H&R Block, on the other hand, only charges you $20 to e-file your state return and does not charge you extra for the state online version. Of course, these costs may change with the 2010 filing season, but if they do, you can expect the rise in each to be about the same, which means the comparison will still be accurate.

    As far as help and support goes, both software programs and companies offer:

  • Support via phone and chat for free
  • Videos within the software programs on particular tax topics
  • Web sites with searchable support
  • You will find that TurboTax has an advantage here. The help and support pages are very easy to navigate and the search box at the top is more likely to bring up the relevant answers to your question. TurboTax also has a live community in which you can ask tax questions and it is amazing how many knowledgeable and helpful people are in this help center chat at any one time. H&R Block’s support pages do not actually provide much help using the software and the search box is next to useless. They DO have a customer support number clearly listed, but the best source for help from H&R Block is to use the Help Center within the software itself. TurboTax and H&R Block both have links to chat support, but TurboTax also has email support.

    When it comes to asking an expert by telephone, both have a different pricing point. TurboTax costs $29.95 for the first 20 minutes and then $19.95 for each additional 20 minutes, but expert help is also available in the Live Community. H&R Block’s Tax Advisor has phone or email access for the simple cost of $19.95 per question. You can also ask the question and direct it to an expert in the Get It Right Community, but only due to its longevity, TurboTax seems to have more experts readily available.

    On the subject of audit help, there is a marked difference. H&R Block’s audit support is free with all of their versions and includes having a tax pro to assist with IRS correspondence, the preparation for audit and an agent to represent you during the audit procedure. TurboTax also has a free downloadable Audit Support Center which does provide easy step-by-step instructions on how to respond to the different kinds of IRS letters, but a tax professional is not included. You have the option of purchasing the Audit Defense service for $40, which allows you the use of a tax pro, but this must be purchased in advance of the notification of your audit. TurboTax also points out audit ‘red flags’ when reviewing your tax return. If a ‘red flag’ is triggered, you can make the decision then on whether or not to purchase Audit Support or to change your return so that the risk of audit is lessened.

    As you can see, both products have advantages and disadvantages that are totally dependent upon an individual’s situation. I hope this article has helped to make your decision for you, well in advance of the 2010 tax season. Keep in mind that the charges may change, but simple online research should result in getting these questions answered for the next tax season. If you already use one or the other, those of you with uncomplicated returns will find it easier to switch, but as long as you printed last year’s return for your records, making the switch from one to the other should not be that hard. In today’s economy, a penny (or dollar) saved is definitely a penny earned, so even though $30 may not seem like a huge cost savings, many will choose to think along the lines of what that $30 can buy. It is your choice; I can only hope that I’ve made that choice clearer and easier.

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