TurboTax vs. H&R Block

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Contributor, Benzinga
January 24, 2019

TurboTax and H&R Block are two of the biggest names in tax preparation software. Both offer a number of packages that vary in functionality and price, and both offer customer service options that allow you to chat with a tax expert, as well as free federal editions that you can use to quickly file your federal income taxes.

Tax Software Best ForFree OptionPremium PricingGet Started
TurboTax • Traders and investors
• Beginning filers
YesStarts at $59.99File with TurboTax
H&R Block  • Beginning filers
• Those who want a lower-cost option
YesStarts at $29.99File with H&R Block

We’ve boiled down some of the biggest similarities and differences between these two tax preparation software packages to help you decide which choice is right for you.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Platform and Tools

TurboTax and H&R Block both use the same simple Q&A style format to guide you through your taxes. TurboTax was the first software to implement this platform style.

What TurboTax Offers

If you need a lot of help, are doing your taxes for the first time or are need to calculate capital gains taxes or brokerage taxes, you’ll likely want to use one of TurboTax’s paid options, which features a wider support system. If you need help while filing, TurboTax allows you to search through a plethora of video tutorials and threads from its online community.

What H&R Block Offers


H&R Block Tax mimics TurboTax’s interview-style format, speeding up the filing process for most users. Its clean design and flow make it a great choice and H&R Block Tax also offers a searchable knowledge base for users who need immediate help.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Prices and Free Versions

Both TurboTax and H&R Block Tax offer a federal free edition of software that allows you to file your 1040-A. However, if users sign up early in the tax season with H&R Block, you can also file a 1040 with a Schedule A — a feature that TurboTax doesn’t include in its free edition at any time. H&R Block's free edition also allows filers to claim deductions such as Child and Dependent Care Expenses, the Student Loan Interest Deduction, the Tuition and Fees Statement, and Health Coverage Exemptions. These claims would require a package upgrade to be filed with TurboTax. 

If you have a more complicated tax situation (you make money from rental properties, are self-employed or have a significant amount of investment taxes to calculate) you can choose from one of three paid packages from H&R Block Tax or four packages with TurboTax. H&R Block’s paid software options range in price from $29.99 for its deluxe version to $79.99 for its self-employed package. TurboTax’s options are significantly pricier — you can expect to pay between $59.99 for the deluxe package to a whopping $179.99 for the TurboTax Live package, an all-inclusive option if you’re looking for a few extra layers of protection. If you file early enough with H&R Block Tax, you can take advantage of a more powerful free federal software option.

If you opt for a paid version, you’re better off with H&R Block Tax at every level if the price is your primary concern. TurboTax’s products are some of the most expensive tax software options on the market. You might not mind paying extra for TurboTax’s platform, but there’s no denying that this round goes to H&R Block.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Audit Protection

When it comes to audit protection, it’s important to understand the difference between audit “support” and audit “defense.” Many users believe that when they purchase audit support packages, their tax preparation software manufacturer will deal with the IRS on their behalf. In actuality, audit support usually only consists of a consultation with a tax expert on what to expect and what to do next. Audit defense packages, on the other hand, often help protect you against fees, charges, and questioning.

What TurboTax Offers

TurboTax offers free audit support on all packages. If you receive an audit notice after filing with TurboTax, you will receive a one-on-one consult with a tax expert, which will advise you on what to expect and how to prepare. If you want audit defense with TurboTax, you’ll need to purchase its Max Assist and Defend add-on at $44.99. However, you must purchase the add-on before you file; you can’t tack it on if you find yourself unexpectedly audited after the fact.

What H&R Block Offers

H&R Block Tax’s audit defense option is called Worry-Free Audit Support and costs $19.99 as an add-on to any package. With Worry-Free Audit Support, you’ll receive audit preparation and correspondence with the IRS, along with in-person audit representation if the need arises. If you’re concerned about identity theft, H&R Block also offers Tax ID Shield, which helps you file for a taxpayer identification number if a thief tries to file a fax tax return on your behalf. You can get both Tax ID Care and Worry-Free Audit Support for a combined price of $24.99, which saves about $10 when compared to purchasing them both individually.

Bottom Line

TurboTax’s audit support is a viable and free option suitable for most taxpayers — unless you earn a very high salary or a very low one, you’re unlikely to be audited. However, if you’re concerned about the possibility of an audit, H&R Block’s protection is more expansive at a lower price point.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Customer Support

What TurboTax Offers

TurboTax’s paid versions offer real-time access to tax experts through its SmartLook platform. You can speak directly to a tax assistant through one-way video (that means that you can see them, but they cannot see you) via the TurboTax mobile app or your software. Free versions have access to an online community through the TurboTax platform, which can answer the most common tax questions quickly. TurboTax’s support really shines is their TurboTax Live package, which includes a personal review from a tax expert before you file to make sure that you’ve taken advantage of every possible deduction and credit as well as ensuring that your return doesn’t contain any costly mistakes. As its name suggests, TurboTax Live also includes an unlimited live connection to tax experts, who will even file and sign your returns for you if you really want to take a hands-off approach. While TurboTax Live is significantly more expensive than TurboTax’s lower tax packages, you may find the extra layer of support comforting, especially if you’ve been audited in the past.

What H&R Block Offers

H&R Block Tax offers chat support for all users who purchased a paid package through their Tax Chat feature in-program. H&R Block Tax also offers a Tax Pro Review add-on feature with all of its paid packages, which comes with a review from a tax expert before you file. This add-on costs between $49.99 and $89.99, depending on the complexity of your situation. H&R Block claims that the men and women behind its Tax Pro Reviews are “certified at H&R Block’s highest levels and are our most tenured and experienced tax professionals,” which can be comforting if you cannot meet with your expert in person. H&R Block also offers a unique layer of in-person support — its 10,000 branches operate all around the country, and total to 12,000 worldwide.  Their Ask a Tax Pro and Tax Pro Review services are customer support options staffed by tax experts with 60 hours of training, 30+ hours of annual training per tax season, and their online filers have an average of 15 years of experience in their field.

Bottom Line

If you prefer online video and chat support for your return, TurboTax is most likely the best choice for you. If the options of both in-person support and online help is a must-have, H&R Block Tax’s brick and mortar and Ask a Tax Pro resources can provide peace of mind.

TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Return Options

What TurboTax Offers

If you file through TurboTax, you have the option of receiving your refund via direct deposited into your bank account, a prepaid TurboTax Visa card, or an old-fashioned paper check. You can also direct the software to forward the refund back to the IRS to be applied to next year’s taxes or invested in U.S. savings bonds. You can apply your refund to the cost of TurboTax’s software package, but this option incurs a $39.99 fee.

What H&R Block Offers

H&R Block Tax offers users largely the same refund options: direct deposit, H&R Block Emerald prepaid debit Mastercard, paper check, forwarding to next year’s taxes or investment in savings bonds. Like TurboTax, H&R Block Tax also allows you to apply your refund to the cost of your software for a fee of $39.95.

Bottom Line

Both TurboTax and H&R Block Tax offer basically the same refund options, and fees for software payments are virtually identical, regardless of the fact that H&R Block’s software packages are less expensive.

Final Thoughts

Both TurboTax and H&R Block Tax offer intuitive layouts and processes, quick filing options and expansive customer support choices. However, TurboTax’s expanded line of support options may make it worth the price if you want to get your return out of the way as fast as possible. If you value in-person support or are looking to cut costs, you’re better off with H&R Block Tax.

Compare H&R Block & TurboTax

Tax SoftwarePlatform and ToolsPricesAuditCustomer SupportReturnsStart Filing
  TurboTax Q&A format Interview-style Free federal edition Paid versions for $59.99 to $179.99 Free audit support Paid audit defense Real-time access to tax experts through SmartLook Direct deposit, prepaid TurboTax Visa card, a paper check Forward to the IRS for next year or invested in U.S. savings bonds Apply refund to cost of a software package, but for  $39.99 Start Filing with TurboTax
  H&R Block Q&A format Searchable database Free federal edition Paid versions for $49.99 to $94.99 Worry-Free Audit Support for $19.99 Chat support for all users who purchased a paid package through their Tax Chat feature in-program Direct deposit, H&R Block Emerald prepaid debit Mastercard, paper check Forward to next year’s taxes or investment in savings bonds Apply refund to cost of software for $39.95 Start Filing with H&R Block