TurboTax and H&R Block are the two biggest tax preparation services in the United States. Both TurboTax and H&R Block should give you the same refund results if you enter your information accurately, so the best choice comes down to cost and experience. TurboTax offers a slightly better online experience while H&R Block is best for people who may want to upgrade for in-person support. Try TurboTax or H&R Block before Tax Day 2020 »
It's the peak of tax season. By the end of February, most people have all of their W-2s, 1099s, and other tax forms required to do their taxes. If you are about to start and are not sure if TurboTax or H&R Block is a better fit for your needs, here's a look at the key features each tax software offers. TurboTax vs. H&R Block overview TurboTax and H&R Block are two of the biggest tax preparation software options in the US. TurboTax comes from Intuit, the company behind popular accounting software QuickBooks and personal finance app Mint. H&R Block is one of the biggest tax preparation services in the US with both physical locations and digital tax-prep software. TurboTax is the most-used tax preparation software in the US. It comes in both an online, cloud-based version and a desktop version for download. There are different versions based on your unique filing needs. As your taxes become more complex, you'll pay more for additional features. For an added fee, you can get a service with quick access to a tax expert around the clock to answer questions about your own personal tax situation. H&R Block is a huge tax preparation service that prepared more than 20 million returns for 2018. In addition to online and desktop software, H&R Block has 12,000 locations around the country. This makes it a popular option for either do-it-yourself or professional tax preparation. Here's a look at the details for each version, what each costs, and what it's like to file your taxes with each service. TurboTax vs. H&R Block versions and pricing TurboTax offers four versions: Free, Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed. Costs range from free to $120 for a federal return depending on the version you choose. State returns cost extra, typically $45 per state, unless there's a sale.
The Free Edition is free for both federal and state returns but only works for the simplest taxes. Deluxe is the most popular version and costs $60 and includes 350 deductions and credits, including mortgage and donation-related deductions. Premier has a $90 price tag and supports taxes for investments and rental properties. The most expensive version, Self-Employed, includes added features for freelancers, contractors, and other small business owners. It costs $120.
H&R Block Online comes in four flavors as well. It is a bit cheaper than TurboTax for a very similar offering.
Free Online works for basics like a W-2 and child-related deductions. Deluxe Online costs $49.99 and includes popular deductions for homeowners and those with HSA accounts. Premium Online costs $69.99 and adds in support for investments and independent contractors. Self-Employed Online handles most business needs at a $169.99 price tag. States are $36.99 extra.
If you are shopping based on price alone, H&R Block is the winner. But as we will see in the next sections, price isn't the only factor to consider. TurboTax vs. H&R Block: The online experience The online experience from both TurboTax and H&R Block is a good one. I have used both to file my own taxes and didn't have any serious complaints about either. I did find the TurboTax experience to be a bit easier to navigate, but H&R Block does a very nice job as well. TurboTax makes it easy to find any form through the search feature, or you can follow its guided tax preparation to enter your forms in the order suggested by TurboTax. You can upload PDF versions of some forms if you have them, or type in the numbers yourself.
H&R Block also makes it easy to navigate through your taxes, add forms, and enter your details. I found it a bit more regimented about finishing things in order than TurboTax. But the forms and questions were very similar. It also offers the option to upload your forms rather than type them in manually for popular forms like the W-2.
While I like the TurboTax experience a little more, it really comes down to personal preference. Both online tax apps offer forms that ask the exact same questions. Looking at the forms above, you can see how similar they look. I'm going to call TurboTax the winner, but just by a hair. TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Getting help from an expert H&R Block is the longtime winner in this category, and that's not going to change this year. Thanks to its huge network of locations, H&R Block makes it easier than any other company to get help from a person with your taxes. There are nearly as many H&R Block locations as McDonald's. H&R Block has a few ways to get help from a person. These range from upgrading for help from a tax pro online to getting a full second set of eyes to review your taxes in store. The Online Assist program, which gives you access to an expert through chat and screen sharing, drives up the cost by about $40 to $80 depending on which version of H&R Block you use. TurboTax isn't letting H&R Block get too far ahead, however. It has its own online help service offering access to a professional. TurboTax Live is about $50 to $90 more than the fully DIY option. The live expert offerings from H&R Block and TurboTax are overall very similar. But, thanks to the thousands of locations around the country, H&R Block remains the winner on this front. You should get the same results either way In the years I did my taxes the whole way through with both TurboTax and H&R Block, my results were nearly identical, which is what you would expect with accurate tax returns. That means the difference really comes down to cost, tax prep experience, and access to an expert. If you want the most polished experience and are willing to pay a few bucks more, TurboTax is the better choice. If you're happy with something that works well and is a bit cheaper, H&R Block is a solid option. If you want the added option of in-person help from an expert, H&R Block is definitely the better choice. Either way, you're getting a high-quality tax preparation experience. If you follow the prompts and enter all of your details accurately, you should come out on the other side with the same results and your biggest possible refund. What more could you ask for? TurboTax and H&R Block are both great options for Tax Day 2020 »
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You should file an amended tax return if your filing status, income, or qualification for...You should file an amended tax return if your filing status, income, or qualification for certain deductions or credits is different than what you claimed on your original tax return. The amended tax return deadline for claiming a refund is the later of three years from your original filing date or two years from the date you paid the tax. Currently you can only file an amended return by printing out and mail Form 1040X. Later this summer, the IRS will begin allowing taxpayers to file amended returns electronically via online tax software providers. This post has been reviewed for accuracy by Thomas C. Corley, CPA. See Business Insider's picks for the best tax software » The IRS isn't going to punish you for making a simple clerical error on your tax return. In fact, if the IRS finds minor mistakes on your tax return, they'll often correct them for you. And if they need more information or additional documents, they'll reach out to you via US mail. For errors beyond basic arithmetic, you may need to file an amended federal tax return, or Form 1040X. The amended tax return deadline if you're claiming a refund due to the changes is the later of three years from your original filing date or two years from the date you paid the tax due. This includes any elected extensions. Other common reasons for filing an amended return include claiming a deduction or credit that you overlooked initially or receiving an adjusted W-2 or 1099 from your employer that changes your tax liability. This doesn't often happen at large companies, but may be more common with smaller employers with in-house bookkeeping. The IRS reports that, nationally, the average taxpayer filing an amended return spends nine hours preparing and mailing their forms, though the time burden varies depending on the type of taxpayer and whether they seek professional help. How can I file an amended tax return? Unfortunately you can't file an amended return electronically — yet. The IRS announced on May 28 that it would begin allowing taxpayers to file amended returns through online tax services later this summer. Until then, you'll need to print, fill out, and mail the form to the IRS. You can find the latest instructions here. To complete Form 1040X, you need the following: A copy of the return (Form 1040, 1040-NR, or 1040-NR EZ; or 1040A or 1040EZ for previous years) you are amending, plus any relevant forms, schedules, or worksheets you previously filled out Any notices you received from the IRS on adjustments to that return Instructions for the return you are amending that correspond to the year in which the original return was filed — you can find these on the IRS website You should also check with your state's tax bureau to find out whether you need to file an amended state return as well. How do I mail an amended tax return? To mail your amended tax return to the appropriate address, check page 18 of the 1040X instructions guide. The address corresponds to the forms you're amending and the state you live in. Is there a penalty for filing an amended tax return? Interest and penalties for late payment of taxes may be charged, but there aren't any fees or penalties associated with simply filing an amended tax return. You can check out the IRS instructions for more details. What's the amended tax return refund timeline? The IRS says it usually processes amended tax returns within eight to 12 weeks of the mailing date, though it could take up to 16 weeks or longer, particularly in cases of identity fraud. Beginning about three weeks from the date your return was postmarked, you can use the Where's My Amended Return tool on IRS.gov to track its status. To do so, you'll need to provide the following information: Your taxpayer identification number or Social Security number Your date of birth Your ZIP code or postal code The status of your amended return will move from received to adjusted to completed. If your return is adjusted, there will usually be a new refund issued or a tax balance due. More tax day coverage: When are taxes due? How to file taxes for 2019 Should I do my own taxes? Credit Karma vs. TurboTax Where is my tax refund? Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
Everything we know about the coronavirus stimulus checks that will pay many Americans up to $1,200 each
Part of the $2 trillion stimulus package from the US government is one-time cash payments of...Part of the $2 trillion stimulus package from the US government is one-time cash payments of up to $1,200 to Americans who qualify. Those payments — coronavirus stimulus checks, if you will — will be paid automatically to Americans with Social Security numbers. If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, or you don't file taxes but do get Social Security payments, you don't have to do anything to get a payment. If you don't file taxes or get Social Security, the IRS has mentioned it will set up a "simple web portal" to submit your information, though details on that are still coming. In the meantime, TurboTax has launched its own free web portal to submit direct deposit information to the IRS. Americans who have set up direct deposits should get their payments by mid-April. Americans who are receiving paper checks may have to wait considerably longer. Read more personal finance coverage. When President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, into law, he initiated a $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest emergency relief bill in American history. Part of that package is one-time cash payments of up to $1,200 to Americans who qualify. An extra $1,200 is always welcome. But with the announcement of the cash came the questions: What is it? Who gets it? How much will I get? Is it taxable? What do I have to do to get it? Below, we've answered those questions and more. Read on for everything you need to know about your coronavirus stimulus check. What is a coronavirus stimulus check? The payment — which the IRS is calling an "economic impact payment," the government has named a "recovery rebate," and many people are calling a "stimulus check" — is technically an advance tax credit meant to offset your 2020 federal income taxes. Am I going to get a check? You will get a check if you: Have a Social Security number. Have filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, or don't earn enough to file but receive Social Security payments. Earned less than $99,000 for single filers, $136,500 for heads of household, or $198,000 for married filers according to the most recent tax return filed. Are not claimed by someone else as a dependent. How much will I get? The IRS bases the amount of your payment on the adjusted gross income (AGI) listed on your most recent tax return: 2018 or 2019. The maximum payment is $1,200 for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 or single parents (heads of household) with an AGI below $112,500. Married couples who file jointly and have an AGI below $150,000 will get a total of $2,400. Payments will begin to phase out at a rate of $5 for each $100 over the AGI threshold before ceasing at an AGI of $99,000 for single filers, $136,500 for heads of household, and $198,000 for married filers. There's also an additional $500 allotted to parents who have an AGI within the phaseout range for each child younger than 16. You can use an online calculator to figure out how much your check will be if you're unsure. Do I need to do anything to get a stimulus check? You do not have to sign up to receive a stimulus check. The process is automatic for most Americans who qualify. To get a check, you must have a Social Security number (nonresident aliens, people without a Social Security number, and adult dependents are not eligible). If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, that tax return must reflect an adjusted gross income below $99,000 for single filers, $136,500 for heads of household, and $198,000 for married filers. Note that if you've moved, and you haven't provided the IRS with direct-deposit information, you should make sure the agency has the correct address on file to receive a paper check in the mail. If you don't file taxes but do get Social Security payments, the government will use that information for your payment. If you don't file taxes or get Social Security payments, the IRS has announced it will set up a "simple web portal" for you to submit your information on (more to come on the details of that). On Saturday, TurboTax launched a free web portal for people who don't file taxes to submit direct deposit information to the IRS, although a PR representative for TurboTax confirmed to Business Insider that its stimulus registration web page is not the web portal to which the Treasury had previously alluded. Who won't get a stimulus check? Dependents older than 16, people without a Social Security number, and those with incomes above $99,000 (or $136,500 if you file as a head of household) won't get a stimulus check. How will I get the money? Most people will get the money deposited directly into their bank accounts. People who do not set up direct deposits with the federal government will be mailed a paper check. People who don't file taxes but do get Social Security payments will get a payment the same way they get their Social Security payments. People who don't file taxes or get Social Security payments will need to send the IRS their information through a "simple web portal" (more details to come). They may also use TurboTax's free web portal to submit direct deposit information to the IRS. When will I get my stimulus check? "If we if have your information, you'll get it within two weeks," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House press briefing, according to The Washington Post. "Social Security, you'll get it very quickly after that. If we don't have your information, you'll have a simple web portal. We'll upload it. If we don't have that, we'll send you checks in the mail." For taxpayers who can use direct deposit, the payment should be deposited mid-April. However, NBC News reported that for Americans who haven't set up direct deposits with the federal government, it could take much longer: up to five months for about 60 million Americans to receive a paper check. Business Insider's Bryan Pietsch wrote: "In early May, the IRS will send out paper checks to those without direct deposit, and it could take around 20 weeks to issue all of the checks, the report said. Those with lower incomes will reportedly be prioritized, and those on Social Security will receive their payments as they would their Social Security checks." Read more: Where is my stimulus check? Here's when your payment should arrive How does the IRS know where to send the money? In most cases, the IRS will take direct-deposit information or a mailing address from your most recent tax filing. For people who receive Social Security payments but don't have enough income to file taxes, the IRS will use the information from the Social Security payments. If neither of the above situations applies to you, but you qualify for a payment, the IRS has said it will set up a "simple tax return" in an online portal, through which you'll be able to give the IRS your contact details. More information is coming on this feature. Those who want to submit direct deposit information to the IRS may also use TurboTax's free web portal. Is the money from the check taxable? No, the money is not taxable. What if my 2018 income qualifies, but my 2019 income doesn't? The IRS bases the amount of your payment on the AGI listed in your most recent tax return: 2018 or 2019. In some cases, when your income changed between 2018 and 2019, your 2018 income might qualify for a larger payment than your 2019 payment, or perhaps it might qualify for any payment while your 2019 does not. In that case, because the IRS has extended the federal tax filing and payment deadline to July 15 (all states that tax income have also their deadlines, in most cases until July 15), you could hold off filing your 2019 income taxes until after the IRS has issued your payment, forcing the organization to use your 2018 income for your payment. Waiting to file has a few downsides, like waiting longer to get your refund and giving identity thieves more time to try and prey on your taxes. However, Riley Adams, a public accountant, previously told Business Insider if you'd qualify for a stimulus check under your 2018 income but not at all under 2019, it might be worth holding off filing for a few weeks (assuming you haven't already). What if I owe back taxes right now? You'll still get a check if you qualify. These payments are treated differently than your tax refund. Typically, you can have your refund seized if you owe back taxes, but that's not the case here. Even people with tax debt should be getting a stimulus payment if they're under the income thresholds. The only people who could get their check reduced because of debt are parents with outstanding child support. I got a phone call, email, or Facebook message about my check. Should I answer? No. The US government isn't calling, emailing, Facebook messaging, or otherwise contacting you about your stimulus check — and if someone does, it's probably a scam. The IRS generally gets in contact with taxpayers through snail mail, and in the case of stimulus checks, it doesn't need to contact you for any type of additional information. The process is automatic for any American who qualifies. If someone is calling or emailing you to confirm personal details or asking for bank information or money, it's a scam. Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of this opportunity to steal people's identities, money, or both. These scams include fake stimulus checks that arrive immediately with an unusual denomination and ask you to verify the receipt online, as well as someone claiming that paying a "processing fee" will get your money to you sooner. What if I get my check and it's too big? You don't need to do anything. Remember: Technically, this payment is a tax credit. A tax credit reduces your tax bill on a dollar-for-dollar basis. It is one of the last steps in calculating your annual tax liability and can be claimed regardless of whether you itemize your deductions. Some tax credits, like the coronavirus recovery rebate, are refundable. That means you'll still get the money even if you don't have enough tax liability to offset it. There aren't any clawback provisions outlined in the law, so you wouldn't be expected to repay any of the money if you wind up getting too much. What if I get my check and it's too small? While it won't help you today, experts say the IRS will allow taxpayers to reconcile underpayment on next year's tax return. "If you should have gotten a check and didn't, or if you should have gotten more than you did because the IRS didn't know something important (like you have a kid), you should get more money" next tax season, Kelly Phillips Erb, a tax lawyer, wrote for Forbes. Read more on managing your money in this tumultuous time: 3 options for people struggling to pay their mortgage during the global health crisis 4 reasons to get disability insurance, even if you don't think you need it If you've been financially impacted by the coronavirus, you may be able to pause payments on these 8 bills How to get a stimulus check from the US government, which could pay up to $1,200 if you qualify In response to the coronavirus, credit card issuers like Amex and Capital One are letting customers skip payments without interest and more Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
It’s so easy to do your taxes from the comfort of your home. Even if you’re...It’s so easy to do your taxes from the comfort of your home. Even if you’re working with a tax preparer instead of using one of the many online options, you barely even need to talk by phone anymore. In person appointments? No way. Just zap your forms across the internet and your tax professional will take care of the…Read more...