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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.

H&R Block software also wins if compared to the free on-line options. I don't like using the on-line tax programs for two reasons (1) I don't want my financial data to be on someone's web site (2) free offers include the Federal tax only.

This year I used a digital download for the first time rather than a boxed version. I liked the security of having a physical CD in case I need to re-install on another computer several years down the road. But you are supposed to be able to download the software again to a different computer and when the boxed version was not available I went digital.

Downloading the software was easy, however during the install I got an error registering the software. When I started the software it immediately gave me a prompt to enter a key-code which (the prompt said) I should have received in the email after purchasing the software. The email I received from Amazon contained no such 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

Once this was done the rest of the software functions well. In fact it looked more polished than in prior years. I always had minor display problems because I use large fonts and they never scaled quite right. This year everything displayed perfectly.

I read one review which mentioned a problem with seeing selection boxes. The problem there most likely caused by low screen resolution. Both Windows and Mac minimum requirement for screen resolution is 1024 x 768 pixels or higher. At a lower resolution, there will be problem with display such as not seeing selection boxes. Screen resolution can be changed on your control panel by change PC's display settings.

I did a preliminary tax return and below are my observations.

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.

2. 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.

3. I don't use the default location for the tax returns, as I want to my backup program to back up only the data not the software itself. The software does not initially remember this new location on startup, it tells me I have no returns. I needed to pick the return manually from the File menu, as it does remember recently used files. The third time I started the software, it finally knew the location of the tax return file.

4. Some forms (such as foreign tax credit over the limit to be directly on 1040) require entering data manually. This year the foreign tax credit form is some what automated, when you hit next button it takes you to the next place on the form you need to fill out (last your you were just presented the form to fill out on your own). This form is not that hard to do manually as this form does not change year to year.

5. 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. This is the first time in all the years I've used H&R Block software that I have no complaint about the display and did not need to change my monitor settings just to do the tax preparation. Nice!

6. H&R Block charges $19.95 to e-file each state return. Of course, this charge can be avoided by printing the forms and mailing them in.

7. In prior years the package include DeductionPro software. This year, like last year, this software is only available as an online tool. I will not use software that requires me to put my financial data on their site, and DeductionPro wants to import the data to H&R web site, so I will not be using it. Disappointing.

8. The price on this package changes day to day. I found a nice tools that shows history of Amazon prices and allows you to generate an email alert when the price reaches our desired price range. 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 purchased this package for $31, last year I saw the prices fluctuate between $25 and the list price of $44.99.

9. For folks trying to download State Forms before January 16, 2012. The state forms are not available for download until January 16 for most states.
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. Right now (last checked on 1/6/2011) none of them are available. I called about my state (Massachusetts) and they told me that most state forms will become available for download on January 16. In the software package, select State Tab and click the button that is called "Buy" (a little scary since we already paid for it) but then "buy" will turn into "update" and when the forms will become available they will be downloaded to your computer.

10. ** ERROR ALERT ** 1/16/12 Version of Massachusetts state return contained an error that was corrected in 1/24/12 update.
If you owed taxes on your 2010 State return and paid owed tax in 2011, this payment was incorrectly included in Line 36 on the MA Form 1 as an amount withheld in 2011. This overstates the amount paid to the State for the 2011 tax year. This error has been reported to H&R and corrected in 1/24/12 update. Thank you to Tech Impaired to spotted it and reported to H&R!

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. On-line help is useful. 2011 H&R Block package appears more polished and has a number of improvements to a couple of small pet peeves I had in the past. So I am quite pleased with it and recommend it!

Ali Julia review
2626 comments|138 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 27, 2011
If you've used tax software in the past you know what you're getting in this package. As stated in the product information the federal e-files are included even though it's not in the software title. The download from Amazon was simple and the installation was smooth. (The key code needed to install the program is easy to obtain. It's located under "Your Account" -> Digital Content "Your Games and Software Library.") I was able to easily upload last year's return (as I used H&R Block At Home 2010 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile) and start inputing my information. There is still some ambiguity in some of the interview questions but for the most part the interview is clear.
Be aware that they try to upsell the "Premium" package in this software very early. It's annoying and easily clicked away from but I can see them snagging an extra $20 fairly swiftly if someone wasn't used to using software like this. I am willing to look over this for the cheaper price tag and that I have had no troubles using it to e-file both my Federal and State taxes in recent years.
I commend H&R Block (and Intuit for that matter) for being much more visible on their pricing this year. The comparison chart clearly states that the state e-file is an additional $19.95. Compared to TurboTax pricing at $57 (11/28/11) + the state e-file $19.95, this is the clear price winner.
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on January 1, 2012
I have been a long-time TaxCut / H&R Block user and continue to appreciate the value this software provides when compared to the cost of the alternative (TurboTax). I have used both, and honestly the user interface and usage differences between the two are negligible. The layout, organization and functionality are fairly standard when compared to previous years, so expect consistency.

The fact that H&R Block has the cheaper overall software, cheaper state e-file, and that state returns are actually included WITH the software purchase is a major plus. I am an employee owner at an S-Corp and have to file in multiple states. Doing this with TurboTax would be prohibitively expensive.

If I have to pick one con, it would be Deduction Pro 2011. We work hard to maximize our deductions, so an easier user interface for calculating sales tax and estimating the value of our donations would be nice. This is the one area where TurboTax carries the advantage. With TurboTax the donation valuation functionality is included within the software, whereas with H&R Block you have to go online to use their Deduction Pro and port over the results. It isn't a major negative (as I've rated the product 5 stars), but if there is one thing to fix, this is it.

As far as purchasing goes, I decided this year not to play the waiting game by pouncing on price fluctuations and rebates, and just to buy through Amazon. Purchased for $32 and downloaded straight to my computer. Easy, relaxing, and a price I'm happy paying. I'll buy this way from now on.
0Comment|20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 9, 2012
Purchased this software and compared it apples-to-apples to TT (long-time user).

After completing both the amounts were not matching up!

After hours of research, I realized H&R Block software did not calculate my HSA properly which likely would have flagged an audit. If you overcontribute to an HSA, MAKE SURE YOU ADD THAT FULL AMOUNT TO 'OTHER INCOME' (yes, manually). Otherwise your going to get into trouble. TT did this automatically.

Is that the only thing they missed? Never again, I'll stick with TT and my instincts.

**EDIT: Dropped to 1-star after finding another error. After deleting itemized medical costs, the State refund didn't change. Ummm....? Went into state and found it DOES NOT automatically change this to $0...you have to MANUALLY update that number!?! So it automates ADDING info from Federal to state, but DOES NOT automate when you DELETE information.

This is programmatic failure -- more AUDIT material!

**3RD ISSUE!!!!!! Amazon's codes don't work for H&R Block's Tax advisors. H&R Customer support told me my key isn't valid...even after getting a 2nd key code from Amazon! The software lets me register with that key code but H&R does not recognize it in their system (customer service stated that all key codes are valid for Tax Advisor assistance).

This software shouldn't even be sold to consumers. I'm politely asking for a refund from Amazon.
22 comments|13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 28, 2012
This software has a bug in MA state where if you work in another state it doubles your state income... fine there is something it has to do to deduct it... however instead it adds it! Giving me a bill of $4000 in taxes that I don't actually owe. I spent 5+ hours on the phone with H&R block and they could not correct it. STAY AWAY! TurboTax is 100% better.
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on February 29, 2012
I have used the H&R software for years, and been happy with it. But as of the 2011 tax year I will never ever use the product again. I had a very complicated tax year in 2011 - being unemployed, selling my house, moving out of state, selling stock, rolling over IRA money, hundreds and hundreds of items donated to charity, etc. The H&R Block software was very good about stepping me through all that, and even though I spent HOURS (like 40+) on getting all the information inputted correctly it seemed to go smoothly, and as I made changes the whole form would get updated. I finally had something that looked correct and went to fill in my state form, but after I had done so I realized I had made a mistake on my federal schedule D form. I went in and corrected it, and my federal income tax changed - but the state remained the same. I went in to the state form but it had no way to modify the capital gains field and said it was imported from the federal. I looked at the actual form and saw it had the old value, before I made my correction.

I wanted to do the state over again. But to make a long story short - you can't. I finally called H&R Block customer support and was told there is *NO WAY* to delete or change your state return once it gets filled in, and the ONLY WAY to get it to pick up the correct data on the Federal Return is to DELETE THE ENTIRE FEDERAL RETURN and start the entire process all over again from scratch.

This is totally insane and ludicrous. As you fill out your federal form and make changes it keeps updating all the forms. Are you telling me the software can't handle this for the state form either? As one whose professional field was software for 36 years I can tell you if I designed a program like that I would have probably been fired. Well I guess I'm the one "firing" H&R Block. Even though I've since moved to a state that has no income tax I'll never use H&R Block again.
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on January 23, 2012
I have used this software for a number of years, and always been pleased with its performance. Unfortunately, the software is incorrectly computing my Massachusetts taxes this year. Like many, I converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010. Under both federal and Mass state law, I am eligible to spread the taxes owed based on this conversion between the 2011 and 2012 tax years. The federal portion of the software had no problems, but the state version is having a problem. Initially, it correctly splits the total Roth conversion amount in 1/2 so that it can be spread evenly between 2011 and 2012. BUT, it then takes the entire amount and adds it to the split.

For example, if you converted a $50K traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010, you should pay taxes on $25k in 2011 and $25K in 2012. The software is doing the split, but then adding back in the $50K. In the end, it is telling me i converted a $75K Roth IRA and owe taxes on it!!!
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on February 20, 2012
I had a problem with e-filing for NY, which is mandatory now or else you pay $25. Attempted to resolve the issue with H&R and their reps are clueless. They have no idea what is going on. This is the last year I'm using this tax prep software.
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on February 19, 2012
I am highly disappointed in the HR Block software. There is a big bug in the software. My AGI is 98,000 (married filing a joint). The software shows: "You do not qualify fo rthe credit because none of your qualifying child were at least four years of age.." My child is 13 years old now! I think the problem is that the software can not recognize the correct age or date of birth from the fedetal program.
I also tried the taxact and turbotax, these 2 software can handle it. I contact the custom service of H&B. they(Beverly) told me: "I apologize for the inconvenience. I realize this is very frustrating. You can contact your Department of Revenue and they can tell you why you do not qualify for the credit."
My god, they even do not check the software!
How can they improve their software and find the bug in it?
Never touch H&B again!
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on March 27, 2012
I have used this software for years and have been happy every year. I always wondered about using it to do more than just my return. So I decided to try and download it to a different computer after I finished my return. Worked no problem. Then decided to try and to my in-law's and nephew's return on my computer. Worked. You get 5 free Federal e-files with it, used them all. All the information for each individual's return is saved separately so it carries over year-to-year. Perfect.
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