Thursday, February 3, 2011

H & R Block vs Turbo Tax

So it's that time of the year again. The time we all sit down and figure out how much money we owe the government or if your lucky, how much money you will get back.

This is a tremendously stressful time for many people. Luckily, I have been able to avoid the stress of tax season. When I first started paying taxes, I did them myself. Had to fill out the forms and do all the math. I never thought it was that difficult. When I got married, my husband and I always had someone do our taxes for us. It just seemed easier. When the software came out to do your own taxes at home, I gave it a try. I found it to be really easy to do.

I have been doing my own taxes now for about 4 years. Now, I will be honest. I have always used H & R Block. I think the main reason was always price. I was always able to find H & R Block for a great deal when I needed to buy it.

So, which program should you use? I honestly think it is really which one you prefer. Here is what happened with me, and my honest opinion of both products.

This year, H & R Block and Turbo Tax have free efile for your Federal return. So, I decided to give Turbo Tax a try. Turbo Tax is very user friendly. It guides you through the filing process with ease. Understanding the forms and the ability to “get help” with terms was very helpful. It takes you step by step through the forms and asks questions to make sure you are getting all the credits and deductions that you deserve. The entire process took about 30 minutes. This was going very slowly and making sure I understood the entire process and answered all the questions.

When I was finished, I was a little surprised at the refund amount. It was much lower than I expected. Before actually doing my taxes, I had used some tax calculators and had estimated a higher amount. Although, the tax calculators are just a “ballpark” figure, it was much different than what Turbo Tax had given me.

After seeing the amount, I had decided to go to my old tax staple, H & R Block, just to see what my figure was with them. Just like Turbo Tax, H & R Block is very easy to use. It is easy to find definitions to terms and is helpful for us non-tax professionals. The software guides you step by step, asking you questions and making sure that you get the credit and deductions that you deserve. Because I have used this software in the past, the process was a little quicker than when I used Turbo Tax, but only by maybe 10 minutes. When I had finished the process H & R Block had found me $2500, more than Turbo Tax. It was a lot closer to the estimate that I had with the tax calculators.

I then went back and re-entered my info into both Turbo Tax and H & R Block to make sure that everything was correct. All the info was correct and the amounts were the same as before with both, Turbo Tax being less. That being said, I decided to file with H & R Block.

Overall, both programs were similar and very easy to use. efile is available with both and you can efile your state taxes with both for an additional fee. Just so there is an understanding, I am in no way bashing Turbo Tax. I found it extremely easy to use, but I am going by my experience and money talks. I got more money back with H & R Block and I will continue to use their software.

*Edit* I forgot to mention that also with H & R Block, it had information that Turbo Tax did not offer.  It had to do with a retirement fund and the state of California.  The information needed to be added on a certain line of the tax form.  Without this information that H & R Block provided, my return would have been rejected and I would have had to re-file, with no understanding why. 

FTC: I am not sponsored or was I asked to review either of these products. This is my honest opinion based on my experience with both.