H&R Block vs TurboTax vs an accountant: We will be looking at the pros and cons of these tax preparation solutions to determine which fits the bill for your tax requirements.
Research shows that tax season gives Americans anxiety. And confusion still reigns around how to prepare taxes.
Indeed, there isn't much in this world to make taxes fun. But, by picking the correct tax preparation route for your needs, you can eliminate some of the stress and confusion that comes with reporting your earnings to Uncle Sam.
However, before you spend money on tax preparation, you must know which solution will fit your budget and requirements. Read on to clarify how to choose between these three options H&R Block vs. TurboTax vs. an Accountant.
The first area where H&R Block vs TurboTax vs Accountant differs is capability. The differences between H&R Block and Turbo Tax are worth considering, as these two services are often very similar.
Also, it's important to consider that accountants provide a different type of service to these two tax preparation solutions.
TurboTax offers users a self-serve tax preparation platform. The platform is laid out to be highly user-friendly, with many of the fields formatted in a questionnaire style.
TurboTax offers several packages, including a free basic package, live basic, deluxe, premier, and self-employed. If you require live assistance from a tax professional, you can access this via screen sharing for an additional cost.
One of the advantageous features of TurboTax is that thanks to the fact that Intuit owns it, the self-employed package supports integration with QuickBooks. You can import your expenses with minimal effort using Quickbooks for your business accounts.
Overall, TurboTax is a highly user-friendly solution for individuals who want to file their returns with a streamlined and straightforward process.
That said, in addition to their self-service approach, Turbotax now offers an assisted service and full-service options.
H&R Block is similar to TurboTax because you can complete your return online. However, H&R Block also offers you the option to have your tax return completed and filed by one of their staff.
You can upload the applicable documents, drop them off at one of H&R Block's locations, or work one-on-one with a tax professional.
Lastly, for a blend between the two services, you can fill out your return yourself but with the option to pay for live, on-demand help.
One of the perks of H&R Block for customers is its physical location. For those uncomfortable doing their taxes online, dropping off their documents at one of H&R Block's locations can be an easy solution.
Similar to TurboTax, H&R Block also offers different levels of packages. Their current packages include the free option, basic online assist, deluxe, premium, and self-employed.
Unlike TurboTax, H&R Block does not offer integration with accounting packages. However, what it does offer (in its self-employed package) is the ability to import Uber driver tax information.
In summary, H&R Block provides a similar service to TurboTax, along with options to have their staff complete your return.
In contrast to services like TurboTax and H&R Block, accountant services are tailored to your needs. They are more personal, as you will likely sit down with your account or have a virtual meeting. They will ask you questions, prepare your return, and file it.
However, the real difference between H&R Block and TurboTax vs. an accountant is that they can provide tailored advice and tax planning. This is ideal if your business has grown or you need to plan strategically for things like capital gains taxes.
Overall, hiring an accountant is a good idea if you want an accountant's advice and know-how for your taxes or possess numerous assets and investments. An accountant can also give you tax-related advice in areas such as blended marriages and joint returns.
Be aware that you must provide your accountant with an accurate set of books. Any errors in these will fall at your door, not theirs. What's more, if your books are incomplete, and the accountant has to process things like receipts—this will drive your bill way up.
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TurboTax is renowned for having excellent customer service. However, this doesn't mean H&R Block's customer support is lacking.
One thing to be aware of with H&R Block is that many of the ‘tax professionals' on their floor are not CPAs or accountants. While they are trained in filling out tax returns, they will need to refer to someone higher up to make a call for complex matters.
This can vary when it comes to what level of customer support you will receive from an independent accountant. Some accountants are easy to reach and easy to make an appointment with. Others might be so popular that you must book an appointment month in advance.
However, by and large, you should get a good level of ‘customer support' from an accountant, as their job is to cater to your financial needs as a customer.
H&R Block is cheaper than TurboTax. Their packages cost significantly less. However, TurboTax has recently brought down their prices to be more competitive. Let's look at how the different TurboTax and H&R Block tiers compare.
H&R Block offers a free package that includes basic federal and state returns. However, if your taxes fall beyond the scope of 1040, Schedule EIC, and Schedule 8812, you must look at the paid tiers. These include the following:
- H&R Block Deluxe: $49.99 for federal returns and $36.99 for state returns (provides for itemization and contains forms for homeowners)
- H&R Block Premium: $69.99 for federal returns and $36.99 for state returns (includes Schedule C-EZ, Schedule D, Schedule K-1returns, Schedule E, and accurate cost basis)
- H&R Block Self-Employed: $104.99 for federal returns and $36.99 for state returns (includes the features of all other packages along with Schedule C)
TurboTax also has a free package that includes a 1040 and some child tax credits. Once again, if your taxes are anything other than basic, you will need to go with one of the paid tiers, which include:
- TurboTax Deluxe: $60 for federal returns and $45 for state returns (includes a charitable donations calculator)
- TurboTax Premier: $90 for federal returns and $45 for state returns (caters to rental property and investment income, stock gains/losses reporting, and refinancing deductions)
- TurboTax Self-Employed: $120 for federal returns and $45 for state returns (includes access to self-employment tax experts and focuses on maximizing business deductions)
- TurboTax Assisted Services: Starting at $80 and going up to $290
As far as an accountant goes, your price can vary widely. However, as most experienced accountants tend to charge anywhere between $40-$400 per hour, you will likely pay more for their services than for either H&R Block or TurboTax.
However, depending on your situation, this investment may pay off through enhanced tax planning, increased deductions, and compliance.
Their prices will vary based on what they do for you. But here is a list of services my CPA offers.
H&R Block vs TurboTax vs an Accountant: Which Is the Best to Choose?
When it comes to H&R Block vs. TurboTax vs. an accountant—the right solution to choose depends on your personal needs, situation, and preferences.
For example, if your books are a mess or your return is complicated for some reason, a CPA firm may be better positioned to help. However, it will be more expensive. I have found that a good CPA can save you more than they cost you via tax reduction.
If your books are organized, and the return is relatively simple, but you don't want to do it all yourself, H&R block may make sense.
Or if you are very comfortable with your bookkeeping and filing a simple tax return, Turbo Tax will be the most economical.
If you own a business that grosses over 100K per year, you would likely benefit from strategizing with a CPA and implementing some tax planning. But bear in mind you want to do this before the end of the year!! It's harder to do tax planning once you are past December 31st.