Comparing online tax preparation companies: H&R Block vs. Turbo Tax

I’m getting ready to file my tax return for last year.  We think that income tax should be abolished – after all, America grew and prospered all the way into the 20th century without an income tax – but we do the standard American tax ritual.

We have filed our tax return online for many years, and we went back and forth between Turbo Tax and H&R Block.  We had no problems with either, and both were very easy to use.  Both asked all the relevant questions and walked me through the process online, step by step, allowing me to save my progress and pick up where I left off if I didn’t want to do it all in one sitting.

One year when we had a particularly complicated return – several businesses and an out-of-state rental that we owned – I used both sites to compute our taxes and compared the results before actually filing the return.  H&R Block found a deduction that Turbo Tax missed, changing our refund by $300 for the better.  Since then, we’ve used H&R Block but I try to compare the 2 regularly and nearly always come up with the same numbers.

Turbo Tax I love that both offer free filing, and even if you have too much income to qualify for free filing, each lets you go all the way through the process and only requires payment when it’s time to hit the Submit button.

Here’s my question for you:  Do you think people who file online are crazy?  Have you used either or both?  Which do you prefer?  I would love to have your input in the poll below, and I would love to hear more about your opinion and/or experience in the comments!  Maybe you can convince me that I don’t need to take time to fill out my tax refund twice, if there is a clear winner.

[poll id=”35″]

The links above are affiliate links, so if you use either company through the link I’ll get a commission.  If you want to give them a try but don’t want to use the affiliate links, direct links are below.  Don’t worry; I’ll never know the difference.  🙂

H&R Block

Turbo Tax  


  1. When I first started my own business in 1996 (Creative Memories consultant) I hired an accountant to do our taxes for the first few years. When it finally dawned on my that they were using Turbo Tax to do my taxes AND I had to generate all the numbers they just plugged into the program I started doing our own taxes and I used Turbo Tax. I have now changed businesses (I make & sell my homemade soap) and still do our own taxes using Turbo Tax. I never really looked around for anything else (ans wasn’t aware of what else was out there other than hiring an accountant)… and as far as I can tell Turbo Tax gets consistently high ratings, so I will still use them. I did break down and start purchasing the Home & Business version for the right questions being asked, even though all the same forms are in the basic version.
    ~Mrs. R

  2. Until dh became involved in a business partnership as a supplemental means of income, I did our taxes (despite my being trained as a nurse and dh having a Masters in Tax Law) simply b/c I’m the “to the penny” person in our marriage. When finally moving to a tax software, we used TurboTax since we had been using Quicken and it was simple to just import much of our data. I’ve been leery of H&R Block due to my *perception* of lower accuracy from dh’s days at the federal tax court, but have no concrete proof of that. It’s irrelevant to us now as we need a CPA due to dh’s partnership info.

    We have filed electronically for as long as it was an option to do so primarily b/c dh felt strongly that it improves accuracy (your return will not be accepted if certain info doesn’t square with previously filed info) and dramatically speeds the return of any refunds we may be receiving.

  3. I’m using HR Block on line and thought we were about finished when the program said we had an “issue”. Since it seems so many folks who read this blog are knowledgeable about this particular problem, I thought I’d throw it out here and see if anyone has an answer.
    We adopted our son from China in December 2010. In January 2011, we received a 10K adoption benefit from my husbands employer. (This benefit showed up in my husband’s most recent 2011 W-2 in box 12c as we expected.) After three mailings and multiple layers of proof, proof and more proof, we finally were granted the adoption tax credit in the summer of 2011. So now, since we are reporting the employee adoption benefit (which we received in 2011) from my husbands job, the program seems to think we will be wanting to claim the fed adoption tax credit in this year’s taxes. Obviously, since we already received it, that is in error. I’m perplexed as to what to do with this problem. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  4. I’ve used both H&R Block and TurboTax online tax prep; have done our taxes online and e-filed for the past several years. (we have a simple return, basic 1040 with itemized deductions) I prefer Turbo Tax because it seems clearer and more idiot-proof to me. Not that I’m an idiot–far from it–but I do not enjoy working with figures, and enjoy doing taxes even less, so there ya go!

  5. Sorry I have a question does everyone in the states have to file their own income tax? In the UK there are people that have to do their own taxes but these are people that tend to be self employed or they opt out of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) which means your tax is taken off your salary before you get it. Most people do not opt out of PAYE as far as I am aware and I think the only time my husband had to pay his own tax was when he was working in Nigeria and it was easier for him to pay his own tax then. However he hired an accountant to do it all just in case! Anyway hope your tax return this year is not to horrific!

    • Hi Aileen, most people in the US have their taxes taken out of their paychecks or pay quarterly estimates during the year. (That way no one is shocked by their final year end tax bill. It is taken out so slowly that we “get use to it”.) However, our government still demands that everyone file their own income tax once a year, April 15th (evil villian music should play here). However, we have such a corrupt tax system that no one pays the same, some have overpaid the government and allowed the government to use their money interest free, so look forward to getting refunds. Some get lawful tax credits that give them more money back then they have paid in. Some have underpaid the government…maybe they have an employed job and are self-employed, or maybe they prefer the government not to hold their money interest free and thus have paid in a little too little, etc. Most people’s tax returns are simply enough they can file themselves. CPA, Certified Public Accountants, are usually hired for more complex returns, ie. multiple jobs, interest earnings, deductions, etc. Hope that answers your question! Have a great afternoon!

  6. MotherLydia says:

    I have to vote for H&R block. We’ve used both. But H&R Block employed my mother when we were growing up (even up to about 5 years ago when her main job became good enough she gave up the second income. She was even an enrolled agent! I’m very proud of her), providing us Christmas gifts for many a year. And this is the third year they have employed my husband, and he LOVES doing it and being able to help people fill out returns to their best advantage.

    Yes, I know H&R block doesn’t always employ people who are gems. But there are legitimately folks out there who are good and know their stuff.

    Of course, back when I was single, most of the time I’ve done my taxes myself, by hand. And, at the end, I still like to see it printed out and check it myself.

  7. WE use a CPA. My DH has a business and he thinks its better. The first year we were married we used the CPA and had a bunch of deductions and we were audited. So now, he is happy to use the CPA. 🙂

  8. We are filing for the second year in a row with H & R. So far we’ve not had any issues with it. My husband is the one who does the taxes, and he’s happy with it, so that makes me happy, too.

    We were kind of forced into it because of the reduction of the printed booklets. That mostly spurred us on to try something new.

  9. I have used TurboTax each of the three times we’ve filed since we got married in 2008. It has worked wonderfully well for us thus far. My husband is self-employed (no corporation–he’s a sole proprietor), and their Home & Business edition is nice for helping me with that portion of things. The software seems very thorough and it’s definitely super easy to navigate. I’ve had such a great experience with TurboTax that I’ve never even really considered that there are other options.

  10. My husband is a CPA. He uses Turbo Tax Pro for our business. When I asked him his suggestion for y’all, he said Turbo Tax. (My suggestion…if you’re smart enough to homeschool…you’re smart enough to do your taxes online! But I’m not a CPA…just a homeschooling mom, too!) He says if you have questions, have a CPA friend review for free…maybe throw in some homemade bread…but those are just his suggestions!!!

  11. We have used Tax Act for the past 4 years with great results!!

  12. I can’t imagine filing any other way than e-filing. We don’t qualify for free e-filing, but that’s one of the things that makes it great. We have pages and pages for all the various deductions and what not. If we mailed in our tax forms, I’d have to go buy a big envelope and stand in line at the post office to have it weighted. I’d also get delivery confirmation since it’s such a big deal. Filing online makes it all so much simpler.

  13. I should also add that we qualify for free e-filing; we always have. H & R Block on-line has never messed anything up, nor have there ever been a questions about education (as someone stated above). Maybe the soft-ware does?

  14. My husband has e-filed for years, through H & R Block and we’ve never had a problem. In fact, we already have the state refund deposited and the federal is supposed to be coming this Wed. We are self-employed, so we have various forms to fill out for that, plus he pastors and we get a little support for that. To us, e-filing makes a lot of sense.

  15. I used H&R block last year (I think); have filed online ever since it was an option. I have used TurboTax and TaxAct. I started with H&R block this year, advertised as free, but you have to pay $20 to get all your info from last year auto filled in. With 9 SSNs and birthdays to enter, I thought that was worth $20. Then it’s another $30ish for the state (yes, some of us have to pay for state taxes). They didn’t cover the education benefits very well, and when I got to the end it was an extra $35 to have the fee taken out of the return! I griped about that, and hubby told me flat out to not use H&R Block. The one time he’d taken his return to be done, it was H&R, and they messed up and he was audited. My parents’ only ever tax trouble was when they used H&R (years ago).
    So I opened up TaxAct, and they had all my info from last year (I guess I’d checked my figures with them?), and only cost $18 for deluxe support plus state. I think their pages aren’t as easy to navigate as they could be, but they did question me thoroughly about the education expenses (gaining me $1000), and I feel like it’s less of a scam when it comes time to pay. I did have a question, sent an email, and a got a response in less then 24 hours.

  16. We used Turbotax for several years and were happy. But the year we did our first adoption (we’ve now done 5) they were slow getting an update available for the adoption credit, and we also went ahead and bought H&R Block. Sure enough, we were easily able to finish our taxes with H & R Block, and have never used another service since then. I’ve spoken with other adoptive families who also had that same issue with Turbotax in the past. They may have that issue resolved by now though.

    Mary, penny-pinching mom to 10
    PS– I’m doing a fun teen grocery challenge on my blog this week

  17. I’ve tried both, but it has been many years since I’ve used the HR Block software. We use Turbo Tax (Home and Business), but use the computer-based version instead.

    My favorite part is that it allows me to import everything from the year before so it doesn’t have to be entered again. It’s not like it’s a ton of extra data entry, but not having to do it is nice too.

  18. So I actually do corporate taxes for a living, but I’m not a CPA…yet 🙂 However, I loathe doing my own taxes. I file them online most years through and sometimes I attempt it on paper to compare, and the online method usually helps me pick up deductions that I’m just not quite familiar with personal tax law. Here’s my advice…if you have a VERY simple return, go ahead and do it online (either program is probably fine.) If you have anything that makes it complicated (multiple state returns, unusual income or deductions) I would recommend going to a CPA (NOT H&R Block…they are not accountants and are pretty much guaranteed to mess something up.)

  19. We filed online this year with TurboTax. We were happy with it, much easier than by hand. And nice to get the refund deposited faster.

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