H&R Block TaxCut Online Premium + State + E-file 2007, the Web-based version of H&R Block's venerable tax-preparation program, is a convenient alternative to its desktop sibling, although the latter has a superior interface and tools. We reviewed the $45 edition of TaxCut Online Premium + State + E-file, which includes federal and state e-filing fees. We recommend this edition unless you want to manage a state return separately, because TurboTax, on the other hand, charges up to $30 for state filing.
Other online editions include the $80 TaxCut Online Signature, which offers assistance from, and your return signed by, an H&R Block adviser, for about half the going rate of getting an accountant in our area to do all the work. TaxCut Online Office starts at $100 and walks you through most of the process with a tax professional. This year, H&R Block introduced Tango, a new Web-based tax-prep service. Although it includes 24-7 technical support, we find its $70 fee a bit steep. The Web-based tax-preparation options are a better deal for one person only. The desktop application, on the other hand, costs slightly more but can be used by multiple members of a household.
It's too bad that TaxCut Online leaves out H&R Block's $20 DeductionPro, a utility that determines the fair market value of noncash charitable contributions. TurboTax, by contrast, offers It'sDeductible. TaxCut works in most browsers, including Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2 for Windows 2000 or newer. Mac users can use the tools within Safari 2 and Firefox 2. Once you create a username and password, you're ready to start.
TaxCut Online Premium largely mimics the new, green-and-gray tabbed interface of its desktop counterpart. The Take Me To button jumps to a menu of topics in the order you answer them. TaxCut offers a streamlined tax interview that fills in the tax forms behind the scenes. The online version reduces the number of clicks you make by combining two related interview segments onto one page. We also like that it transfers federal data into your state return. So, what's the big deal? It saves time when you're spending hours filing a complex return. TaxCut Online logs you off after several minutes of inactivity, which is a good security feature, particularly if you're doing your taxes at work (which, ahem, we don't recommend).
TaxCut Online's interface is free of ads. However, it does ask if you want other H&R Block properties to contact you about investments. We were glad that once we said no, TaxCut did not ask again. The interview is straightforward, taking arcane tax lingo out of your hands. Still, we prefer the more thorough approach of Intuit TurboTax. That said, TaxCut does offer assistance for life changes, and it now pays extra attention to people with foreign income and to those who have been in the military. In the end, the rival services--online as well as their installed counterparts--calculated identical refunds for our sample returns.
TaxCut's online support resources include a searchable knowledge base, videos, and free e-mail and chat queries. TaxCut deserves credit for its free customer service, which includes audit support should the IRS take an extra interest in your return at a later date. By phone, you can reach someone from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. PST on weekdays. Weekend hours, which were unavailable last year, now end at 6 p.m.
Since TaxCut Online Premium imports your returns from last year from both the online and desktop versions of TaxCut, it could be a viable service for longtime users who want a fast, Web-based alternative to tax software. For simple W-2 or 1040EZ taxes, we prefer the less expensive TaxAct from 2nd Story Software. For complex returns, TurboTax Premier Online is easier to navigate than TaxCut and has better tools than its two Web-based competitors for managing charitable contributions and investments.