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121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good product at a good price (updated)
(Note: This review also shows up in the reviews for the download version. Don't ask me why Amazon doesn't show the reviews in both places for what's really the same product, with just different delivery mechanisms. I bought the box version, if you want to know.)

This part written Dec 9, 2009 (see updated comments below)

This is of course a...
Published on December 15, 2009 by CS

versus
93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem with State download, inefficient customer service
I've used H&R Block's tax software for the last four years and haven't had a problem until the 2009's version. In general, the software is comparable to others in its simplicity and user-friendliness. This year, I bought the Deluxe Home Edition which comes with a state; however, when I tried downloading my free state program, it was indicated that I had to pay $29.95. To...
Published on January 29, 2010 by D. Yip


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121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good product at a good price (updated), December 15, 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
(Note: This review also shows up in the reviews for the download version. Don't ask me why Amazon doesn't show the reviews in both places for what's really the same product, with just different delivery mechanisms. I bought the box version, if you want to know.)

This part written Dec 9, 2009 (see updated comments below)

This is of course a preliminary review (written Dec 9 based on use in the last few days). At this time one can't do more than a rough cut estimate of the tax return -- the IRS forms aren't finalized, the state forms aren't available, and of course the various income reports (W2, 1099, etc.) aren't out yet.

I don't have a super complicated tax situation this year: it just requires some things that a good tax program should handle easily. So far this program seems to do just fine. I found it easy to use, and found that imports from Quicken and from TXF files worked without any problems. Schedules A, B, and D worked just fine, and the related screens were easy to use and understand. Excess FICA was calculated correctly, as was the child tax credit. The AMT calculation does of course remain weirdly complicated (once a year I mutter to myself about all politicians in DC), but the program does take care of it with no apparent problems.

I used TaxCut last year -- chose it over TurboTax just because of cost, and was quite satisfied. I'm not convinced this year either that you get value for the extra you pay for TT. (Incidentally, note that if you have investment income you probably need to get TT Premium, so the price would be nearly double that of HRB Deluxe.)

A warning I wrote in my review last year seems worth repeating: Don't expect a tax program to apply tax laws correctly in all circumstances; for anything at all out of the ordinary, make sure you double-check against an IRS guide or another guide like JK Lasser's. The folks who design and write and test the programs make mistakes, too. And for the same reason, give the calculations a sanity check, don't just use the program blindly, or you could get tripped up by a software bug that wasn't caught.

I will update this review in Jan/Feb when I've had a chance to do more with it.

Update Jan 29, 2010:

I have now done a first complete pass on my taxes, based on W2s, 1099s, and some projected 1099s. I also have had an opportunity to use TurboTax Deluxe (I got a free copy, legally), so have been able to compare the two products.

I continue to like HRB Deluxe. It's easy to use, and has been trouble-free. There are a couple of things I particularly like, that might be worth mentioning. (1) They show you when the next update is expected, so you don't waste your time running the update check until there is something. (2) Entering info from interest paying mutual funds that might have muni income (tax-free for Fed) is simple: HRB gives you a simple way to enter the amount that's tax-free in your state, and takes care of it without hassle. TT can also deal with this, but I don't like their way as much (they create a separate 1099 to split the income into two parts).

Interestingly, TTD is also noticeably slower starting up than HRBD. Don't know why.

The one advantage TT does have over HRB is on coverage of automated downloads: TT can download your 1099 info from a larger set of institutions than can HRB. W2 downloads look the same between the two. This does save some time, and could be sufficient to be a decider for some. Not for me.
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93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problem with State download, inefficient customer service, January 29, 2010
By 
D. Yip (Brooklyn, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I've used H&R Block's tax software for the last four years and haven't had a problem until the 2009's version. In general, the software is comparable to others in its simplicity and user-friendliness. This year, I bought the Deluxe Home Edition which comes with a state; however, when I tried downloading my free state program, it was indicated that I had to pay $29.95. To make a long story short, I spent 45 minutes speaking with a customer representative before she finally sent me the state link. I was very disappointed as the person initially told me she could not help me because I did not purchase the software directly from H&R Block. When I asked to speak to the manager, I was put on hold for long periods of time. For an issue that has occurred on multiple occasions (as indicated from these reviews), I was highly disappointed with the length of time it took the representative to come up with a solution. Also, had I not insisted on speaking with a superior (who apparently didn't think my issue was worthy of attention) the representative had originally asked me to go ahead and pay for the state and submit paperwork for a refund. It's odd that the program would encounter such a problem and I am very disappointed with the way the situation was handled.
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143 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Value, December 23, 2009
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I have used H&R Block's tax software every year since 2004. It's always adequate and slightly annoying. There are always a few poorly worded parts, even though most of it is excellent.

The amazon price bounces around between 19 and 39 buckss between late January and April. I do 3 tax returns with it. Good value!

** Update 2-10-2010; I find the 2009 version clearer and cleaner than prior years. Very few annoyances on my moderately complex return. Their privacy policy is hard to view and hard to understand. You can't copy...paste or print the interview screens, which sometimes would be handy. Judging from reviews of the competition (TurboTax), I think H&R Block is the better product, and I don't feel ripped off.
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62 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About telemarketing, December 14, 2009
By 
Flynike (Eureka Springs, AR, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I have just installed this year's program, and have yet to enter much data. I use this product over others since becoming unhappy with TT several years ago. I find the new look of At Home attractive and not at all distracting.

In reference to the previous reviewer's complaint about telemarketing, I have two thoughts:

1: Hang up immediately in response to any call as soon as a recorded message begins;

2: Don't register the software. Never give any personal data you don't have to, to anyone.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Download and delivery probl;ems, January 26, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I have been a satisfied TaxCut user for years. I have recommended this producrt in the past. I have been surprised at the amount of difficulty IH&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [Formerly TaxCut] have had this year. I purchased the version with one free state download. When I clicked on the state tab I saw an offer to sell me a state program but no free download. I called HRBlock three times about this matter. The first time the agent acted as if she didn't understand the problem and put me on hold six or seven times. The second time the agent sent me a link to download a new package of Federal + State. I downloaded the software but there will still no free State program. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling a few times but no luck. The third time I called, the agent sent me a link to a State program which I downloaded and which solved this problem. I had wasted at least four hours in the process. Next I discovered that when I tried to access Tax help I got an error message saying that it couldn't open a file. I called HRBlock Tech Support about this. The agent spent some time with me and then said I could expect a call from a higher level person at Tech Support. It has been two days and I am still waiting for a call. If it weren't for my positive past experience with TaxCut I would have rated this year's product and support even lower.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent product from a former TurboTax user., January 22, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I have used TurboTax for years, but was fed up this year when I saw the prices for the Deluxe version. I had thought about using HR Block At Home (or TaxCut) for several years and decided to try it. Unlike other users, I had a no problem install on my Windows 7 computer. Super easy to use and understand.

I highly recommend this product especially given that it is $20 cheaper than TurboTax.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Buggy installation/permissions on Macs: I have the problem & the solution, January 18, 2010
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This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I've used H&R Block TaxCut (now H&R Block At Home) in the past and have been very satisfied. However this year I had two serious permission problems on the Mac. Fortunately I'm a geek and so was able to figure out solutions.

The problem is only likely to crop up if you have multiple user accounts on the Mac, and use a non-Admin account to run the H&R Block At Home software. Otherwise, if you're running with full Admin (root) privileges these bugs should not arise.

The first problem came right after I installed the program and it tried to do its initial update. It failed with the following error messages: "1008:5,-5000 Access denied error" and "You do not have enough access privileges for this installation". I had been running as a standard user so I switched to the Admin account, but to no avail. I even tried running Mac's Disk Utility program and did a Repair Disk Permissions with no success. I had to delete the program, re-run Disk Utility -> Repair Disk Permissions with the program gone, then reinstall the program as Admin. Then and only then would it do a program update and continue on.

However, for security reasons I don't like to run as Admin, so I went back to my standard user account at that point. Then the second problem came up. When I tried to start the program as a normal user I got the following error message: "Initialization Failed. Exception thrown during initialization: File open failed. File = /Users/Shared/H&R Block/2009/update.tim in open:MacFileWriterImpl". After puzzling over that for a bit I realized what was wrong and confirmed it by dropping down into the underlying Unix OS underneath Mac OS X. And that is, H&R Block has the permissions set wrong for the file specified above and for the folder (or directory) containing that file. Sure enough, an ls -l in Unix confirmed that the permissions on that directory do not grant write access to anyone other than the owner of the file & directory. For those of us who create multiple accounts on the Mac, and who installed the program using the Admin account, mere mortal user accounts will not be able to modify that file. (And I suspect the file keeps track of the last update attempt, which normally occurs immediately upon program initialization, which is why it crashes the program right away.)

So the fastest way for me to fix the problem was to go back to the Admin account, open up a Unix window using Mac's Terminal utility, change directories (cd) down to the 2009 directory, and reset the permissions with "chmod go+w 2009" "cd 2009" and "chmod go+w update.tim" for the file as well. Then everyone (group and other) can write to the file. Went back to the standard user and - well of course it worked!

Those two solutions should help those of you who are comfortable with a bit of the techie side of Mac OS and/or Unix. However for the others, this is clearly a permissions bug in the H&R Block At Home software which I hope they get pushed out to their customers quickly. However they'll have to walk their customers through it verbally, since unless you can update the program online, you can't install the patches to fix the installation & update bugs. I called technical support tonight and reported the problem, cause, and solution, so hopefully their Customer Support call centers will be able to help other customers.

I'd love to give the program more stars, but I fear these two permission bugs are going to cause a lot of grief to a lot of H&R Block customers who own Apple computers. Hopefully however this will help some folks get up and running.

Three updates since I originally posted this review:

1) I should have provided instructions to users to fix the permissions using non-Unix commands. So here goes using the Apple Mac OS X interface: a) sign on as Admin, b) open a Finder window and navigate down to /Users/Shared/H&R Block, c) right-click on the 2009 folder, d) select "Get Info" on the menu, e) on the pop-up window in the "Sharing & Permissions" section set ALL permissions that say "Read Only" to instead say "Read & Write", e) navigate into the 2009 folder and repeat the permission change instructions for the update.tim file. You're done & now your standard user account can run H&R Block At Home.

2) H&R Block pushed out an update tonight (1/21/2010). As an experiment I tried updating the program from my standard user account. It ran to completion with no errors however after finishing told me that I still had that same update that needed to be done ... which means it didn't update the files on disk after all. So the permission bugs persist, at least for now. You'll have to perform all updates using the Admin superuser account (that worked) but if you do that you can at least run the program as a normal user.

3) I installed the Maryland state program tonight (1/27) when it became available for download. Given the problems above I used the admin account to do the install and then switched back to my normal account. Ran the program: no Maryland state tax program installed! And you're only allowed to download it one time without paying again! Turns out the state program downloads into the directory ~/Library/Application Support/H&RBlock/2009/ (for non-techies ~ means starting at your home directory) and a non-shared plugin is created. This thwarts other accounts from using the state program.

Resolution: Using a Finder window in the admin account copy the file ~/Library/Application Support/H&RBlock/2009/Completed Updates/md.dmg (for other states replace md.dmg with your state's abbreviation e.g. va.dmg for Virginia.) Paste this into a shared directory such as Macintosh HD/Users/Shared. Go back into your normal account and copy that same file from the Shared directory into your own ~/Library/Application Support/H&RBlock/2009/Completed Updates/ directory. Double click on that file (md.dmg in my case.) A new window will pop up and you'll see a new file which starts with your state's two-letter abbreviation. In my case it was called MD.TCstate09. Double click on that file. Another window will pop up which says it is installing the state plug-in. After that, you'll be able to use the state program under your normal user account as you intended.

Don't ask me how to update all of this mess at this point when H&R Block is ready to push out new program updates. Do you use the admin account? The user account? Who knows? It might even depend upon whether you are updating the Federal or the State return. What a mess!

H&R Block really blew it this year on multi-user account support, at least on the Macs. I tried relaying this to their Customer Service (3 phone calls and 2 online Chat sessions) but they had no one who understood the Macs and no way for me to email to them my diagnosis and solutions. They were nice and tried to be helpful but I'm not sure they got exactly what I was saying. I hope so though.

I have liked H&R Block in the past and they are cheaper than TurboTax. This year, however, makes it difficult to remain a loyal customer. We'll see what I do in tax year 2010.

Anyway, I hope my pain is able to help other Mac users get up and running.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good for basic tax prep needs, February 14, 2010
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I have used TurboTax for years, but this year decided I didn't want to pay the high price. After reading reviews of H&R Block at Home I thought I would give it a try. Despite having purchased the Deluxe version, I found this product was really only good for basic tax preparation, but if that's all you need why buy a desktop tax preparation product? Next year I'm going back to TurboTax. Here are a few reasons why:

1) H&R Block required me on 2 separate occaisions to fill in a form myself before it would continue. The first was IRS publication 525 (Recoveries). After an hour reading the instructions and attempting to work out my situation, I finally just filled out a tax return on the TurboTax online version. It automatically calculated what needed to be calculated and gave me the answer I needed. So I took that information back to H&R Block at Home and continued. But I was in disbelief that AtHome couldn't handle it. The issue was that I amended a tax return from 2006 during the 2009 tax year and received a tax refund from my state for the tax year 2006. However, since I had itemized and deducted state taxes in 2006 I owed the Federal government for the amount that my deduction had reduced my Federal taxes.

The second time I was required to access a form was to figure out my penalty for paying my Colorado state tax late. Colorado has a complicated form for this but luckily you also have the option to be billed later for the penalty - which is the option I chose. But again, I was in disbelief that the program couldn't just ask me the necessary questions and then calculate it for me.

So bottom line on this point. I pay for a tax prep software product so I don't have to scrutinize IRS forms and manually fill out worksheets. I'm happy to do my research on relevant tax topics so I can make the appropriate choice on a not so clear issue, but in the 2 cases above, it was black and white - fill in the correct worksheet and go.

2) Usability. I had read that the usability was not as sleek as TurboTax and they were right. The main income and deductions pages do not display the dollar amounts nor a status of your the categories. All it has is a link to "Go To" the category of interest. So there is no way to tell if you've already reviewed a topic.

In addition the forms that it prints are very basic. TurboTax prints out a nice PDF file which is well organized and easy to navigate. AtHome just prints out a data sheet and your tax forms. It's a pain to surf through it all and find out what you want when checking things.

Overall, my recommendation would be to pay the extra money and buy TurboTax. Although I am not happy that Intuit continues to jack up their prices, they do have a better product.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars State Program Download Problems, January 28, 2010
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
January 29, 2010

See original post below. I gave it one last shot, and this time I got a tech support person who solved the problem -- she gave me a link to a self-installing download of the state program. Since the software is now working, I've raised the rating to three stars. It would probably be four stars if Block had given me the solution on the first contact instead of the fourth; not five since there are some user interface annoyances, including a limit on the number of different charitable contributions you can deduct.

----
I have not been able to download the state software (Windows XP SP3). The program tells me I need administrator permission to do it; the account I am using has administrator permission. When I attempt to download it under the Administrator account, it looks like it is going to work, but then it closes the program and does nothing further. Tech support told me to upgrade Windows Installer; that made no difference. The instructions they sent me said if upgrading Windows Installer didn't solve the problem, they would have to punt.

I'm not going to wrestle with it anymore. I can likely do my state taxes with pen and paper faster than I can resolve this issue.

I have used this program and its predecessors for at least 20 years, and have been generally satisfied, but I will be tempted to switch next year.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, January 23, 2010
By 
Steve A. (Eau Claire, WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] (CD-ROM)
I've been using TaxCut for over 10 years. Last year I thought I would switch and try the free trial of TurboTax. I wasn't impressed. In several key places, TurboTax made me look up information manually from my previous year's return to input the answer - even though I had run the import. I switched back to TaxCut and breezed smoothly through the interface. I also found the help area and answer area to be more straightforward and no-nonsense in TaxCut. I highly recommend the program and will be purchasing it again this year.
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H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION]
H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION] by Block Financial (Mac OS X, Windows 7 / Vista / XP)
Used & New from: $27.77
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