H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

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jharkin
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by jharkin » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:42 pm

I dont have much to add other than another datapoint of a happy HRB user.

I have used the Deluxe version of HRB since.... I dont remember somewhere around 1999? when it was still called "TaxCut" I've never had an issue with it.

My return is fairly straightforward - W2 income, some ESPP and RSU transactions, typical homeowner deductions of mortgage interest, property taxes, etc.

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grabiner
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by grabiner » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:25 pm

talzara wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:09 pm
dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 am
1) Cloud-based versions that I have seen do not allow easy switching between forms-based entry and interview entry. I like to be able to easily navigate between those two views.
Cloud-based software usually charges you when you file. If they allowed you to see the form, then you could file on paper without paying them. Most of them will allow you to see the form if you pay first.
And that is an important reason for using downloads. If something is entered wrong (either because you misunderstood the instructions, or because of a bug), you want to be able to correct that before filing. And if you want to do something the software doesn't support and make a direct entry on a form, you also need the form. (I have had to do that several times; one standard example is the fact that you can't handle the deduction for state taxes correctly on Form 1116 with software.)
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bogglizer
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by bogglizer » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:15 am

dodecahedron wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:44 am
bogglizer wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:07 am
dodecahedron wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:30 pm
bogglizer wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:24 am
I had a couple of unsolvable problems with TT this year, so I called the help number, got an agent very quickly, and she solved my problems right away by directly entering numbers on the forms. So, the complaint that TT won't let you do things seems to be bogus in general. If you couldn't get something done and didn't call in for help, then you only have yourself to blame for it.
I assume you are using the online (cloud) version of TT. Your suggestion does not work for those of us who prefer (for a number of good reasons) to use the downloaded non-cloud version of tax software.
Bought the disk at Costco.
If you were using a program locally installed on your home computer how was she able to directly enter numbers on the forms? Or did you mean to write that she told you what numbers to enter?
She had me set up something where she could see my screen, and I typed in the numbers into the blanks that she pointed out.

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dodecahedron
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by dodecahedron » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:41 am

bogglizer wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:15 am
dodecahedron wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:44 am
bogglizer wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:07 am
dodecahedron wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:30 pm
bogglizer wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:24 am
I had a couple of unsolvable problems with TT this year, so I called the help number, got an agent very quickly, and she solved my problems right away by directly entering numbers on the forms. So, the complaint that TT won't let you do things seems to be bogus in general. If you couldn't get something done and didn't call in for help, then you only have yourself to blame for it.
I assume you are using the online (cloud) version of TT. Your suggestion does not work for those of us who prefer (for a number of good reasons) to use the downloaded non-cloud version of tax software.
Bought the disk at Costco.
If you were using a program locally installed on your home computer how was she able to directly enter numbers on the forms? Or did you mean to write that she told you what numbers to enter?
She had me set up something where she could see my screen, and I typed in the numbers into the blanks that she pointed out.
Fascinating--I guess that kind of personal hand-holding support is a part of the reason why TT is more expensive than other products.

I am still happier with HRB, which is considerably less expensive and has allowed me to complete my tax forms for the past four years in a legally correct and tax-efficient manner without the need for that kind of hand-holding. Still I can imagine folks who might prefer the HRB approach and for whom it would make sense to pay for it.

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rob
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by rob » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:43 am

H&R is fine... I only used TT until they installed the root kit some years ago.... Cannot be trusted.
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talzara
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by talzara » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:57 am

grabiner wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:25 pm
talzara wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:09 pm
Cloud-based software usually charges you when you file. If they allowed you to see the form, then you could file on paper without paying them. Most of them will allow you to see the form if you pay first.
And that is an important reason for using downloads. If something is entered wrong (either because you misunderstood the instructions, or because of a bug), you want to be able to correct that before filing. And if you want to do something the software doesn't support and make a direct entry on a form, you also need the form. (I have had to do that several times; one standard example is the fact that you can't handle the deduction for state taxes correctly on Form 1116 with software.)
If you pay for the cloud software first, then you can see the forms as you fill out your return.

However, they don't make it easy to find out about this. They don't actually want you to do this, because it's a "friction point." When you're typing in your credit card number, you might change your mind and leave. They would rather you start for free and pay before filing. At that point, you've already spent a couple of hours working on your return. Are you really going to quit and start over?

They use every psychological trick in the book. This staff writer for Forbes started with "Free File" and ended up paying over $100 for TurboTax. But they didn't ask her for $100 up-front. They asked her for $35, three times.
I typed TurboTax.com into my browser and clicked Federal Free Edition. I decided to file with industry-hulk TurboTax because the software is known for being easy to use and Intuit had just introduced TurboTax Absolute Zero, which touts free state filing (albeit with an *.) ...

TurboTax told me I would need to upgrade to the Deluxe edition, which at that moment Intuit was selling for $34.99. ...

The free-state filing the company continues to aggressively advertise turns out to only be available to people filing federal returns for free. Plus $36.99. ...

My one paycheck earned in New Jersey meant I needed to file a part-year New Jersey return and for that Intuit wanted another $36.99.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthash ... illennial/

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by plats » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:36 pm

Heads up to overseas filers: HRB cannot handle Foreign Earned Income Tax Worksheet—Line 44 if you have a so-called "capital gains excess," whatever that is. It tells you to do it yourself, override their calculation, and that by doing so you can't efile. TT can do it without skipping a beat. This shortfall by HRB cost me $9.95, which I'd like to get back but can't figure out how.

BTW, I challenge any human being to calculate the Foreign Earned Income Tax Worksheet—Line 44 (at the bottom) with an excess cap. dist. correctly. I actually made a spreadsheet a couple of years ago to calculate it and ended up getting a small check back from the IRS, which was virtually worthless in Japan. That excellent free Excel1040 spreadsheet can't do it either, it seems.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by Jeff Albertson » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:36 pm

I got tired of all the games turbotax was playing. Every couple of years, additional cost for basic features. I've reluctantly used hr block the last two years. Both intuit and block have lobbied hard (spent millions) to prevent the IRS from sending taxpayers pre-filled forms.
Ex-Washington Post correspondent T. R. Reid has written a book on this, 'A Fine Mess'.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/opin ... -here.html
Parliaments and revenue agencies all over the world have done what Congress seems totally unable to do: They’ve made paying taxes easy. If you walk down the street in Tel Aviv, Tokyo, London or Lima, Peru, you won’t see an office of H & R Block or a similar company; in most countries, there’s no need for that industry.

In the Netherlands, the Algemene Fiscale Politiek (the Dutch I.R.S.) has a slogan: “We can’t make paying taxes pleasant, but at least we can make it simple.” It is certainly simple for my friend Michael, a Dutch executive with a six-figure income, a range of investments and all the economic complications that come with an upper-bracket lifestyle.

An American in the same situation would have to fill out a dozen forms, six pages long. Michael, by contrast, sets aside 15 minutes per year to file his federal and local income tax, and that’s usually enough. But sometimes, he told me, he decides to check the figures the government has already filled in on his return. At this point, Michael was getting downright indignant. “I mean, some years, it takes me half an hour just to file my taxes!”

In Japan, you get a postcard in early spring from Kokuzeicho (Japan’s I.R.S.) that says how much you earned last year, how much tax you owed and how much was withheld. If you disagree, you go into the tax office to work it out. For nearly everybody, though, the numbers are correct, so you never have to file a return.

When I told my friend Togo Shigehiko in Tokyo that Americans spend hours or days each spring gathering records and filling out tax forms, he was incredulous. “Why would anybody want to do that?” he asked.

What’s going on in these countries — and in many other developed democracies — is that government computers handle the tedious chore of filling out your tax return. The system is called “pre-filled forms,” or “pre-populated returns.” The taxpayer just has to check the numbers. If the agency got something wrong, there’s a mechanism for appeal.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by 2pedals » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:17 pm

I am happy with H&R Block.

I used TaxCut (now H&R Block) from 1996 to 2005 switched to TurboTax in 2006 to 2013 switched back to H&R block 2014 to 2017. I switched to TurboTax in 2006 to take advantage of the Fidelity import feature. Switched back to H&R block in 2014 after TurboTax limited the usefulness of the Deluxe. I am careful to review data transferred from previous year and all imported data. All imported data this year was as expected.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:53 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (tax software).

I switched to H&R Block for the first time (2017 filing). Once I got familiar with the way it displays forms vs. interviews, it seemed OK. The user interface could be better integrated with the forms, though.

I'm not happy that H&R Block delayed the release of the 2018 Federal tax planner (create estimated tax forms) - twice. It's now scheduled for March 23. Fortunately, I only really needed the PA state return tax planner, which is available now.

To get things going, I downloaded Form 1040-ES from the IRS and completed it manually. I'll update the tax software when the 2018 tax planner is released.

I had no problems to file my federal and state returns and check status.

Would I get H&R Block next year? Probably.
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:20 am

Taxcut/HR Block is about the only one I've used (other than one of the free years ago) so I'm completely used to the interface.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by criticalmass » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:05 pm

One advantage H&R Block has is it accepts US Treasury Obligation info as a percentage, which is how Vanguard and others distribute the info for each fund.

With Intuit, I had to calculate my dividends, then multiply my dividend amount times the multiplier that Vanguard supplies for each fund. H&R Block just consumed the multiplier and did the multiplication.

Even better would be if it downloaded the multiplier information with the data import.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by criticalmass » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:09 pm

dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 am
aj76er wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:51 am

Why do you dislike cloud-based versions?
2) Cloud-based versions means my tax records (including names, SSNs, DOBs, bank account numbers) are permanently stored on a server that is accessible to anyone who manages to hack my log-in credentials. (Downloaded software allows me to keep my tax records on a thumb drive or backup disk not permanently connected to the internet.)
If you e-File, your tax records are also being "permanently" stored on a server accessible by someone who can hack it too. And typically there are several intermediaries between your computer and the IRS that all have access to your data.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by criticalmass » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:13 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:03 am
criticalmass wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:48 am
That is completely optional. I never take advantage of that offer, but then again if I receive a refund, I did something wrong.
You can force a refund by filing an extension with payment, then your return soon after.
I could, but that's a long way to go to save 5% on Amazon. I haven't even used the Amazon gift balance obtained when my credit cards were offering a 5% bonus cashback for Amazon purchases. And that's assuming they would even follow through with the 5% offer, it only appears if you meet unspecified criteria, and you don't know until you file the return with the refund and accept the terms and conditions.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:27 am

criticalmass wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:09 pm
dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 am
aj76er wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:51 am

Why do you dislike cloud-based versions?
2) Cloud-based versions means my tax records (including names, SSNs, DOBs, bank account numbers) are permanently stored on a server that is accessible to anyone who manages to hack my log-in credentials. (Downloaded software allows me to keep my tax records on a thumb drive or backup disk not permanently connected to the internet.)
If you e-File, your tax records are also being "permanently" stored on a server accessible by someone who can hack it too. And typically there are several intermediaries between your computer and the IRS that all have access to your data.
I agree there are intermediaries with any efiled return. However, intermediaries on non-cloud software supposedly transmit the return without storing it on their servers. They do not attempt to make my return data accessible to me even with my log-in credentials.

I am sure that the IRS stores my return data on their computers, whether or not it is efiled by any type of software. And of course, a paper-filed return can be intercepted in the mail.

Nothing is perfect. But cloud-filed returns have more points of vulnerability than downloaded software filed returns.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by JW-Retired » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:51 am

dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:27 am
criticalmass wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:09 pm
dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 am
aj76er wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:51 am

Why do you dislike cloud-based versions?
2) Cloud-based versions means my tax records (including names, SSNs, DOBs, bank account numbers) are permanently stored on a server that is accessible to anyone who manages to hack my log-in credentials. (Downloaded software allows me to keep my tax records on a thumb drive or backup disk not permanently connected to the internet.)
If you e-File, your tax records are also being "permanently" stored on a server accessible by someone who can hack it too. And typically there are several intermediaries between your computer and the IRS that all have access to your data.
I agree there are intermediaries with any efiled return. However, intermediaries on non-cloud software supposedly transmit the return without storing it on their servers. They do not attempt to make my return data accessible to me even with my log-in credentials.

I am sure that the IRS stores my return data on their computers, whether or not it is efiled by any type of software. And of course, a paper-filed return can be intercepted in the mail.

Nothing is perfect. But cloud-filed returns have more points of vulnerability than downloaded software filed returns.
Yes, nothing is perfect. However, after E-filing for a while we have gone back to mailing paper returns again the last few years. I just have to believe that some Post Office employee stealing my return from the mail is far less likely than us being one of millions hacked in mass from some server.

We do seem to get credit card hacked at least yearly, and usually as part of a mass hack. Likewise I was one of the millions of government contractor employees whose data was stolen in mass. On the other hand, our US Mail track record for filing tax returns is perfect. None of our tax returns has been stolen or lost out of some 90 Federal & State returns we have mailed.

This year, we again got the return receipts for both 2017 paper returns about 3 weeks after we mailed them in. For now, we are planning to keep doing what's been working perfectly..... until it doesn't at least once. :P
JW
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by talzara » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:10 pm

dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:27 am
I agree there are intermediaries with any efiled return. However, intermediaries on non-cloud software supposedly transmit the return without storing it on their servers. They do not attempt to make my return data accessible to me even with my log-in credentials.
That's not quite true.

eFile providers are allowed to store the return for up to three days before transmitting it to the IRS. Occasionally, the IRS has instructed eFile providers to suspend filing for one or two days. This is only possible because they store a copy of the return.

eFile providers may also store the return until the IRS begins accepting eFiled returns. For example, if you file a return on January 1, and the IRS starts accepting returns on February 1, then your data would be stored on the software company's servers for a month.

See Publication 1345: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1345.pdf
dodecahedron wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:27 am
Nothing is perfect. But cloud-filed returns have more points of vulnerability than downloaded software filed returns.
Cloud-based tax software can store your return for as long as the company wants.

TaxAct Online used to store your return for three years. Now it's seven years.

TurboTax Online stores your return forever.

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by Easy Rhino » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:01 pm

I used to use TaxAct, because it was super inexpensive. it was fine, but the price went up recently.

I switched to HRB, which is also fine. With the caveat that importing data from pretty much anywhere (brokerage or Quicken) just doesn't work right.

And it's super cheap, I got it for around $15/$17 from Amazon, I print out and mail my state taxes to save the extra 10 bucks, and I put a little bit in a Amazon gift card to get the 5% bonus (not too exciting... the bonus used to be 10%).

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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by tennisplyr » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:30 pm

You get what you pay for. I'm super cheap and have stuck with TT.
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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:30 am

I have heard a lot more complaints about Turbo Tax over the years than Block.
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Re: H&R Block vs TurboTax (spoiler: HRB is awful)

Post by tractorguy » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:51 am

I had been using Turbotax but got tired of their price increases and IMOP bait & switch marketing strategy about 3 years ago. I did a trial version of my taxes online with all 3 major companies and ended up picking HRBlock to use going forward. My assesment was;

HR Block & Turbotax interfaces are about equally easy to use. Differences are mostly in style & once you get used to one, the other doesn't feel right for a while but that can be overcome. Tax Act was much more bare bones.

All 3 could handle my situation (some 1099 income, pension, & investments) and came up with the same answer. HRBlock & Turbotax both imported my data from Vanguard without any problems. I don't remember if Tax Act did.

The year I did my evaluation, I had less than $600 in foreign income through my mutual funds and all three handled that correctly. This year, I was over the $600.00 threshold and HRBlock didn't handle it properly and didn't warn me. I caught it when I did a manual comparison between my 2016 and 2017 forms. Reading the Turbotax blogs, that also doesn't handle foreign income properly above $600.00 but warns you that you need to make adjustments to the form. When I followed the turbotax blog correction procedure using HRBlock, everything worked out.

Over the years, I've done taxes with my own spreadsheet, Turbotax software, HRBlock software, and using an accountant. I've learned that any of these approaches is subject to error. Using one of the tax software packages minimizes the potential for error at a reasonable price. The accountant costs way more for small gain in first time through accuracy, a spreadsheet is free but highly subject to error and is a time sink. Using software, I typically put all my numbers in, let it sit for a day, print out a draft copy of the return and check all my inputs, and then compare the return with the previous year's. The return gets checked at least 3 and sometime more times, depending how many errors I find with the checks. The comparison with the previous year's return is a valuable checkpoint that my accountant did but neither Turbotax nor HRBlock software automates.
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