Top positive review
477 of 485 people found this helpful
Pleased overall. Some improvements compared to last year.
on November 19, 2012
I've used H&R Block's tax software (formerly called TaxCut) every year since 1995. Several times when I saw a promotional deal I purchased both TaxCut and TurboTax to compare. I found that TurboTax did not do anything better than TaxCut while costing consistently more. In addition, I like the option of being able to file 5 free Federal e-files as I do taxes for other relatives who are less computer savvy.
If you encounter issues with display, such as not seeing selection boxes, check your screen resolution. Both Windows and Mac minimum requirement for the screen resolution is 1024 x 768 pixels or higher. At a lower resolution H&R Block software will have problem with display such as not properly displaying selection boxes. Screen resolution can be changed on your control panel by change PC's display settings.
I just finished a preliminary tax return and below are my observations. Note: the forms are not final until January 10, 2013.
1. H&R Block starts the interview process with an annoying up-sell pitch, recommending an upgrade from Deluxe to Premium even when it is not necessary.
It would have better if they waited until the financial information is entered and offered the Premium version only to those for whom it might make sense.
What is the difference between Premium and Deluxe? The Premium version offers advanced tools for self-employed and rental property owners: cost basis of home sales, dividents, gifts, and inheritance assets. It has advanced schedule C guidance to maximize deductions for self-employment income. And finally it has guidance for rental property income and expenses. The rest of the Premium package is the same as Deluxe.
Note that the Deluxe package has support for self-employed income as well as stock sale cost basis calculations. This year I had to do both, and I found the guidance to be sufficient to complete the forms.
I am a including a photo (under customer photos) of a table which shows what is included in each package of H&R At Home (Basic vs Deluxe vs Premium).
2. As of 11/19/2012 videos for tax law changes were not available yet (the prompt said coming soon).
3. Minor pet peeve: Help is not context sensitive. For example, when you click on "learn more" about a particular topic the general help window opens but it does not show help topics for the specific topic that you were working on. Instead you need to search and know which words to use locate the relevant topics.
4. Good news: DeductionPro 2012 is now integrated into H&R Block, you no longer need to go to H&R web site.
5. H&R Block provides you some guidance for completing Form 1116 (foreign tax credit, for example from mutual funds). However, you need to keep switching between whole-form view to enter data and then back to interview to read the instructions. Even though the form where you can enter data is visible at the same time as instructions you cannot enter data into it until you switch into whole-form view. This is cumbersome, but at least there is some guidance for this form.
6. Copy and Paste from Interview screens is not possible. Sometimes I wish to do it for some issue as a reminder to myself. My solution is to do PrintScreen (holding ctl key, shift key, and PrintScreen key at the same time). This generates an image of the screen, which I paste into paint or photo editing software which I can print or save for later.
7. I don't use the default location for the tax returns due to how I set up my backup software. The H&R Block software does not initially remember this new location on the second start of the application, it told me I have no returns. I needed to pick the return manually from the File menu, as it did remember recently used files. The third time I started the software, it finally knew the location of the tax return file.
8. I use large font option on my monitor display and in the past had display issues (some things were displayed on top of each other). This year all forms displayed properly with this option. Nice!
9. I purchased H&R Block Deluxe plus State. This version entitles you to 5 free federal state e-files. There is no free e-file for the state return. If you want to e-file you will need to pay a fee of $19.95 to e-file each state return. This charge can be avoided by printing the forms and mailing them in via post office.
SPECIAL NOTE for NY state residents: NY state residents can e-file state returns for free.
10. The price on this package changes day to day. I found a nice tools that shows history of Amazon prices. If you enter "price history alert" in Google it will come up at the top, it has the word camel in the name. I find this tool very helpful. I just looked up that the price last year fluctuated between $20 and the list price of $44.99. During the tax preparation season it hit the $20 mark on three different dates. You can set up an alert tool to email you when your desired price has been reached.
11. For folks trying to download State Forms -- Update 1/17/2013: State Forms became available on January 17. 2013.
If you go to the Software Update Center on H&R website you will see a section called State Updates. Under there you there is a link called "Forms Available". If you click on that, it will show a table that shows availability of forms for each State.
When the state forms will become available they can be downloaded by selecting the State Tab and then clicking on the button labeled "Buy" (a little scary since we already paid for it) but then "buy" will turn into "update" and the forms will be downloaded to your computer.
12. A note for those who use the digital download rather than the boxed edition
This year I am using a boxed edition of the software. Last year I used a digital download and run into a glitch a solution to which I want to include again for those who might run into the same issue this year.
After I installed the software and started it for the first time it prompted me to enter a key-code. The prompt said that I should have received it in the email after purchasing the software, however the email I received from Amazon did not contained a key-code. I had to call Amazon support and they told me that this information can be found following these steps
1) Log into Amazon
2) Select Your Account at the top right of the page
3) Select Games and Software downloads which is towards the bottom of the long page you see when you log in
4) Then under H&R software entry you will see the key-code that you need to enter to unlock the software
13. Update 12/10/2012. I received a question if H&R allows to install the software on two PCs. I found the answer on H&R Block web site FAQ under the topic "Installing Software on Another Computer"
There are just a few steps necessary to re-install the H&R Block At Home program from the CD you received in the mail. Follow the steps below to re-install the program or install it on a second computer.
Insert the H&R Block At Home CD into your computer.
Click the Need to Re-install? link on the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.
The Frequently Asked Questions page will open to the first FAQ titled, "Can I install the software on a second computer?"
Enter your activation code and last 4 digits of the credit card you used to purchase the program initially and click Activate.
You can find your activation code in your purchase confirmation e-mail.
Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
14. Update 12/18/2012. Repeating another great question from the comments to share with everyone.
Q: Is there an audit check which marks problems with red flags?
A: At the end of the interview process there is a check step (which you can run at any time, but the interview ends with this check). This step flags problems (e.g. missing information) and potential audit alerts (e.g. unusual deductions) with red flags , and reminders (e.g. things you marked tentative) with yellow flags.
15. Update 2/7/2013. I received a question if I had any problem doing update from the CD purchased from Amazon.
I have performed several updates without problems. If you have a firewall, the firewall prompts with a question if you trust the software and you need to reply "yes". If you say no, the install will be rolled back. If you accidentally reply "No" to this prompt, I would recommend uninstalling the software. Then installing it again, and then trying another update. Alternatively you can deactivate the firewall during the install.
I have been a H&R Block/TaxCut user for many years. The interview process is helpful in reminding you things you might have forgotten. 2012 H&R Block package addressed a couple of my old pet peeves (for example, integration with DeductionPro). So I am quite pleased with it and recommend it!
Ali Julia review