H&R Block At Home 2009 Deluxe Federal + State + eFile [OLD VERSION]
|Price:||$29.99 + $4.72 shipping|
- Ideal for homeowners and investors, H&R Block At Home Deluxe includes everything you need to easily complete your federal and state taxes, plus five free federal e-files
- Customized interview process helps you easily complete your federal and state taxes
- Easily import W-2, 1099, and data from last year's return; quickly import data from TaxCut, TurboTax, Quicken, and Microsoft Money software
- Automatically double-checks returns for errors; built-in expertise and audit support with guidance
- Guidance for reporting investments, dividends, home sales, and retirement income; H&R Block DeductionPro software to maximize tax savings from donations
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Guidance for all your personal tax situations. Federal forms and State forms. Step-by-step interviews guide you through a customized experience relevant to your tax situation. Everything you need to prepare your federal and state taxes in one complete program.
Platform: PC/Mac Disc | Format: Box
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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.
TaxCut 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.
H&R Block tax software does a good job despite having a few flaws, my two pain complaints:
1. My annual pet peeve: foreign tax credit over the limit to be directly on 1040 is not done automatically, it require entering data manually. This form is not that hard to do manually as this form does not change year to year, but not it is not clear to me why the program cannot do the right thing.
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 sofware which I can print or save for later.
In addition to tax software, the package includes DeductionPro software. I find it helpful in organizing and valuating charity donations, such as clothing and household items.
The interview process is helpful in reminding you things you might have forgotten. On-line help is useful. Despite a few annoyances, it does a good job.