The pandemic has had an impact on all business and I was curious to see the impact it would have on H&R Block. Fortunately, the company was able to adapt to the new realities and continues provide the range of services it has been known for.
I would say that one thing that really grabbed my attention this year was the simplicity of the website. It has always been quite easy to navigate, but this year the difference is noticeable. There is little information to distract from decision making on how to file taxes. That process has been narrowed down to going through answering typical questions, such as whether to file online or with a tax pro. From there the last major decision is to select which version of the software is the most appropriate to your tax situation.
Filing options and their cost is always linked to your tax situation. The more intricate, the more expensive it will be. Like many tax software providers, H&R Block offers a free version of its product, allowing certain group of taxpayers to fulfill our annual obligation completely free of charge.
The first question to ask is how to file: online or with a help of a tax pro.
Taxpayers who choose to file online have the following products available to them:
- Free Online 2021 – this version is typically ideal for students or employees receiving a W-2 form; filing a simple tax return is free for federal and state tax returns
- Deluxe 2021 – this version handles certain complex tax situations such as Health Savings Accounts (HSA), report real estate taxes and interest on your mortgage. Lastly, it allows contractors, freelancers, and gig workers organize and categorize income
- Premium 2021 – on top of already mentioned features this version is appropriate to report gains or losses from investments in stocks, bonds or other investments (Schedule D). It is also appropriate for investors with rental income (Schedule E)
- Self-Employed 2021 – the most comprehensive version that will help claim all the small business expenses. Additionally, account for all the credits and deductions as well as asset depreciation to ensure maximum possible refund
Something new that H&R Block has introduced is a help from tax experts when you file online. The software already has a very robust help features that are part of its platform. There are additional resources in frequently asked questions section, and forums to post your challenges, but if certain aspects of your tax returns stump you, there is always an option to add a tax pro help. Adding this feature lets you receive unlimited, on-demand help from a tax pro.
If you decide to file taxes on your own, there is also an option to download the software. This option is an intersection of security and affordability allowing you to keep your taxes on your computer.
Currently, H&R Block offers the following software alternatives:
- Basic 2021 – best suited for employees and Single or Married individuals who claim dependents; handles simple tax situations and provides step-by-step tax guidance
- Deluxe + State 2021 – this version will help maximize deductions and, besides the options in Basic version, it is well suited for investors and includes one state return
- Premium 2021 – report income and expenditures from a rental property, or if you are self-employed and report income on Form 1099 this version will help to maximize industry specific credits and deductions
- Premium & Business 2021 – best for small business owners, this version goes over deductions and credits; e-file up to five federal returns for free
File with a tax pro
Filing with a help of a tax professional is synonymous with H&R Block. Even though walking into one of their offices is the most common way to file taxes (H&R Block office locations), H&R Block expended this option in the recent past.
- One-on-one in an office – make an appointment or walk in; this is also the best way to learn about your taxes, ask questions, and position yourself better for the following tax season
- Drop off my files at the office – drop your tax related documents at a local office, share anything relevant about your tax situation to get the maximum refund, and have a tax pro handle the returns
- Virtually – work over chat, phone, or video
The same applies to submitting your documents. Whether it best fits your life style to file with a virtual help, or out of caution because of the ongoing pandemic, you can turn in all the tax document electronically via MyBlock app. Regardless which option you select, upon completion the tax pro will walk you through your returns so that you better understand what life situations impacted your refund or tax liability.
Despite some differences in how the tax filing process get completed, H&R Block stands by the same level of service and quality of the final product. It translates into accurate tax preparation and the maximum refund based on your tax situation.
To improve the tax season experience for its users, H&R Block redesigned MyBlock app. The latest features include:
- Video chat
- Appointment guide
- To-do list
- Digital Emerald Card
In it, you will find a complete history of your taxes, financials and the communications. For taxes, at your fingertips you have prior returns and the backup that went into preparing them. You can also select how you would like to prepare the returns. The app allows you to collaborate with your tax preparer electronically and answer any questions to get your return completed.
MyBlock has many financial features such as balance on the Emerald card, ability to set up an automatic bill payment, and tracking your credit score.