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H&R Block Review 2023: More Affordable Than TurboTax With In-Person Tax Help Available

H&R Block's sleek interface and generous free plan places it near the top of its class.

H&R Block's free option includes deductions and credits that TurboTax Free does not.
Brandon Douglas/CNET; H&R Block

This story is part of Taxes 2023, CNET's coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.

H&R Block's 2023 tax software includes a well-polished interface, strong support features and a free plan that provides better coverage than TurboTax. It wasn't quite enough to earn our designation of best tax software overall, but it comes darn close. 

H&R Block offers four primary tiers of service -- Free Online, Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed -- with options to add online tax support. 

What separates H&R Block from TurboTax is a free version that allows several more forms including Form 1040 Schedule 1 -- which includes unemployment compensation, deductions for student loan interest and more -- as well as free support for the child tax credit, earned income tax credit and education credits. 

Those additions make H&R Block's free plan an attractive choice for filers like students who don't have complicated tax situations but want to claim certain important deductions and tax credits. 

A spare, simple interface and questionnaire-style process make H&R Block Online easy to use. Though not quite as smooth as TurboTax, H&R Block Online employs a well-designed, interview-style system to guide you through your tax return and eliminate potential errors. The help screens and extra information are useful, if sometimes not easy to find.

H&R Block


  • Slightly lower pricing than other top tax software
  • Free basic audit support and 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Online assistance or in-person help
  • Student loan interest deductions and educator expenses can be claimed with the Free Online version

Don't Like

  • Price tag is still relatively high
  • Online Assist doesn't guarantee help from a CPA
  • Not as polished as TurboTax

Who should use H&R Block tax software?

Much like TurboTax, H&R Block Online offers a range of tax-preparation software services that can cover most income tax situations. What separates H&R Block is the robustness of its free offering and the ability to get assistance in-person at a physical H&R Block office.

We recommend students and other filers looking for free tax software consider H&R Block, as well as taxpayers who'd like the option of making an in-person appointment with a tax preparation professional. If you're filing multiple state returns, you might want to look elsewhere. (Jackson Hewitt, for instance, offers unlimited state returns, plus your federal return for $25.)

What are H&R Block's different products?

H&R Block offers four different online products -- Free Online, Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed -- which range from $0 to $110. The company is offering promotional prices temporarily, lowering the costs to $85 or less. The decision on which tier is best for you depends mostly on the deductions and tax credits you want to claim.

Free basic audit support is offered with all H&R Block tax plans, and enhanced "Worry-Free Audit Support," including IRS communication and in-person audit representation, can be added to any plan for $19.99. H&R Block's Online Assist feature offers additional virtual support with live assistance and screen-sharing, and can also be purchased on top of any of the plans starting at $70. Tax Identity Shield offers proactive protection against tax identity theft, and can be added to any plan for another $20.

Free Online: Best for students and most W-2 employees

The Free Online plan, as the name suggests, costs $0 for filing federal taxes and $0 per state. This plan works best for W-2 employees with simple tax returns, but it's also great for students since it allows for both education tax credits and deductions for student loan interest, tuition and fees. 

The free plan includes Schedule 1, which lets you report many more types of income including unemployment compensation, retirement income, gambling winnings, alimony and stock options. It also allows for income adjustments such as educator expenses and IRA or student-loan interest deductions. 

While the free plan also covers 1040 Schedule 3, "Additional Credits and Payments." It doesn't include all of the supplemental forms needed to claim the credits. 

H&R Block Free Online does include form 8863 for education credits, including the Lifetime Learning Credit and American Opportunity Credit, which again bolsters its appeal for students.

If you need expert help when filing your taxes, it may be better to upgrade to the Deluxe plan. While the paid versions of H&R Block include access to phone or web chat support, the Free Online version does not. You can buy the following types of support, though: Online Assist, Worry-Free Audit Support or Tax Identity Shield.

Deluxe: Best for itemizing deductions and HSAs

Deluxe features everything in Free Online but also includes itemized deductions and support for health savings accounts. You'll need to upgrade from Free Online to Deluxe if you want to claim certain tax credits and deductions, like the child and dependent care credit, retirement contributions, and adoption expenses. 


H&R Block Deluxe plan includes many big deductions.

H&R Block

Not sure whether you should itemize this year? Check Schedule A to see if any expenses apply to you. For instance, you may have received a big property tax bill in 2022, paid medical expenses out of pocket or donated generously to charity. If the total of your allowable deductions are greater than your standard deduction, then it could make sense to itemize. 

As with the Free Online plan, you can add professional tax assistance to the Deluxe plan via H&R Block's Online Assist program. Extra services like Worry-Free Audit Support and Tax Identity Shield service can also be added for additional fees.

Premium: Best for investors, landlords or those who sold cryptocurrency in 2021

The Premium tier adds several layers of tax services for those with more complicated tax situations. If you earned money from a rental property, have capital gains from the sale of a home or investments, or gained or lost money from the sale of cryptocurrency, the Premium plan is for you.

The cost for virtual professional help, including screen-sharing via Online Assist, is slightly higher with this tier. The Worry-Free Audit Support and Tax Identity Shield services are also still available.

Self-Employed: Best for gig workers, contractors and business owners

The Self-Employed plan works for freelancers, small business owners and gig workers like Uber drivers. If you have a side job or revenue stream, you'll likely have to select this advanced tax preparation plan.

Virtual help from a live human is available via Online Assist and the supplemental services Tax Identity Shield and Worry-Free Audit Support are also available. 

H&R Block products, compared

Best for Product Federal* State** Online Assist Add-on*
Students and simple tax returns Free Online $0 $0 $40 federal (promotional pricing); $70 federal after promotion ends
Maximizing tax deductions and credits Deluxe $35 federal (promotional pricing); $55 federal after promotion ends $37 $80 federal (promotional pricing); $110 federal after promotion ends
Crypto, investing and real estate income Premium $55 federal (promotional pricing); $75 federal after promotion ends $37 $115 federal (promotional pricing); $160 federal after promotion ends
Freelancers and business owners Self-Employed $85 federal (promotional pricing); $110 federal after promotion ends $37 $145 federal (promotional pricing); $195 federal after promotion ends

*Pricing as of Jan. 6, 2023
**Price per state return filed

Is H&R Block Online Assist worth the cost?

H&R Block

Most taxpayers with common tax situations won't need personalized assistance. However, some of that depends on your comfort level with doing your taxes alone and the nature of your tax situation. If you had a complicated tax situation or a lot of changes this year -- for instance, you sold a house, moved out of state and had a child -- Online Assist may bring you peace of mind.

H&R Block says it will connect you with either a tax expert, enrolled agent or certified public accountant. While you're not guaranteed to speak with a CPA, all of H&R Block's tax professionals come with 10 years of experience on average. You'll get unlimited personalized support and screen-sharing with your tax pro, so you can work through any questions or problems you have. 

You can add Online Assist at any time during the tax filing process. If you run into questions you can't answer yourself when running the H&R Block software, you might consider adding Online Assist to your plan.

Other notable features H&R Block offers

One of the coolest features in the H&R Block service is the ability to snap a picture of your W-2 instead of scanning it or entering details by hand. A simple text message to your phone contains a link to a secure webpage. Snap a quick photo with your phone, and your W-2 is uploaded instantly to your online account. The service also allows easy PDF uploads and transferring previous tax returns and forms.

You can choose to receive your tax refund from H&R Block in a few different ways:

  • Direct deposit
  • Paper check in the mail
  • Transfer to a Spruce mobile bank account from H&R Block
  • Transfer to the prepaid debit card Emerald Card

The Emerald Card is a Mastercard-branded prepaid debit card issued by Pathward, N.A., and offered by H&R Block. It works much like any debit card at retailers and ATMs, and funds are protected by the FDIC and Mastercard's "Zero Liability" policy. 

Money from your refund can be automatically added to an Emerald card. Be sure to read the Cardholder Agreement on H&R Block and review the fees before deciding to get an Emerald Card.

H&R Block does offer a Refund Advance feature, but only for customers who schedule in-person appointments or use the company's Digital Drop Off service. You can receive up to $3,500 at 0% APR on the day you file your return. The catch? You can only receive the loan on an Emerald Card, not via check or direct deposit.

You'll still need to be approved by the lender, Pathward, N.A., but H&R Blocks claims approvals only take minutes after applying. Refund Advance is currently only for early tax filers -- it's available Jan. 3 through Feb. 28, 2023. Your loan is automatically paid by your refund when it arrives.

You can also use your expected tax refund to pay for your H&R Block tax preparation fees using a feature called Refund Transfer, but there's an additional fee of $39.


H&R Block's MyBlock app lets you manage your Emerald Card.

H&R Block

H&R Block offers two different mobile apps to manage your tax returns: MyBlock and H&R Block Tax Prep. Both can be used to prepare your tax returns. Whereas Tax Prep focuses mainly on filing your tax return, the MyBlock app includes a variety of additional features like video chat with tax professionals, in-person appointment planning and managing a prepaid Emerald Card debit card.

Both apps let you prepare your tax return on your phone or via desktop computer. You can switch back and forth between the two as much as you like.

Along with the bevy of tax preparation tools for registered customers, H&R Block also offers free tax tools for anyone visiting their site, including a tax calculator to estimate the size of your refund, a "where's my refund?" tool to track the status of your return and a tax prep checklist to review before you start the tax filing process. 


H&R Block 2023 tax software remains a top contender in the battle for best tax preparation software though its user experience is not as clean or direct as TurboTax. The four various tiers of service cover most every common tax situation, and the Free Online plan could be a great fit for many students with student loan interest deductions and W-2 filers with simple returns.

The optional Online Assist service offers virtual hand-holding at a reasonable price, and H&R Block overall includes many services of value for taxpayers, including mobile apps, tax calculators and multiple options for receiving tax refunds. And, if you run into trouble online, you can schedule an appointment in-person at an office, if necessary.

Compare other tax software

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