I ran my taxes through Credit Karma Tax and H&R Block. Here's how they compare on price, ease of use, and refunds.
This year I prepared my tax return on both Credit Karma Tax and H&R Block. I wanted to save money on preparation fees, get my maximum refund, and move through the process quickly and easily. Even though Credit Karma Tax is completely free, I chose to pay for H&R Block's Deluxe Online version. H&R Block enabled me to upload my W-2 for easy data input and got me about $200 more for my state tax refund than Credit Karma Tax. Try Credit Karma Tax or H&R Block before Tax Day 2020 »
Many people don't realize it's completely free to file your federal tax return with the IRS if you go the pen-and-paper route. When you pay a company like TurboTax or H&R Block, you're covering the preparation fees. And it's usually worth paying for the extra help, since most of us aren't fluent in tax law. But if your situation is simple enough, you shouldn't have to spend a dime. H&R Block and TurboTax both offer free versions and Credit Karma Tax is completely free. But they're not all created equal. I've used H&R Block for the past few years and had a positive experience. This year, however, I knew I wouldn't qualify for free filing, so I tried out Credit Karma Tax to see if it was worth jumping ship.
Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: Which is better for filing taxes? It's hard to beat a completely free tax-filing product like Credit Karma Tax. No matter what your income situation looks like, Credit Karma will allow you to file a federal and state return for free. What it doesn't cover, however, could be a deal breaker for some people, including disallowing returns for people who earned income in a state they don't reside in and part-year state returns. H&R Block also offers free filing, but your situation needs to be fairly simple to qualify. If you're a homeowner, freelancer, or small business owner looking to maximize your deductions, you'll pay between $50 and $105 for an H&R Block package, plus an additional $45 per state return. H&R Block also has a superior user interface with easy tax document upload capabilities and clear step-by-step instructions. After running my taxes through both services, I wound up with a bigger refund from H&R Block, despite entering the same information. I didn't qualify for free filing at H&R Block, but it was worth paying the preparation fee to get an extra few hundred dollars in my state refund. Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: pricing Credit Karma Tax is completely free for both federal returns and state returns and supports most tax situations; you just need a Credit Karma account to start. H&R Block is a part of the IRS Free File program, allowing taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) under $69,000 to prepare and file their returns for free, regardless of the additional forms and schedules needed. If you earned more than the Free File limit in 2019, you can still get free return prep through H&R Block. This version supports W-2 income, interest income, dividend income, retirement distributions, the student loan interest deduction, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you want to itemize deductions, have a Health Savings Account (HSA), own a home, or earn self-employed income, you'll need to upgrade to one of H&R Block's paid products.
Deluxe Online: $50. Everything the free version includes, plus the mortgage interest deduction and Health Savings Accounts (Form 1099-SA), and you can itemize.
Premium Online: $70. Supports everything in the Deluxe version, plus rental property income and freelance/contractor income below $5,000. You can also import mileage and other expenses from common tracking apps.
Self-Employed Online: $105. This is the highest-tier online package offered by H&R Block. It's ideal for self-employed people, including small business owners, partners, and contractors who earned more than $5,000.
If you're concerned about making mistakes, missing deductions, or getting lost amidst the tax forms, H&R Block can connect you with a professional for an additional fee.
Online Assist: $40 - $140. These packages are nearly identical to the online filing options mentioned above, but you can chat instantly and share your screen with a tax expert, CPA, or enrolled agent.
Tax Pro Go: $49 - $249. This is H&R Block's newest offering, which takes the work out of finding an accountant on your own and going into an office. You just need to answer a few questions about yourself to get paired with a tax professional. Then upload all of your tax documents to your online account and your tax pro will prepare your return(s) within five days. You'll review and sign your return(s), pay, and the tax pro will file them.
If you're filing a state return too, you'll need to add an additional $45 fee to each of these price points. Winner: Credit Karma Tax Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: ease of use The W-2 upload option saves a ton of time on data entry Businesses are required to mail your tax forms to you by late January, so you should have everything you need to file by now, including your W-2 or 1099, and any bank statements reporting dividend or interest earnings. If you're enrolled in electronic statements for your payroll provider or bank, the tax documents should be available in your online account for download. If you have digital forms, H&R Block makes it really easy to input the data on your income form to save time. You can either upload the PDF file or import it directly from your payroll provider. Either option takes just a few seconds. I usually double-check all the numbers to make sure everything is correct and I have yet to find an error. Credit Karma Tax also advertises W-2 upload capabilities, but the tool didn't work for me when I filed back in February. I tried it at least three times before giving up and entering everything manually. And though it's more of a quirk than a deal breaker, Credit Karma Tax asked me to choose from a list of occupations at the beginning of my return but didn't provide an option that even closely matched my actual job — a journalist. No "reporter," no "writer" ... not even "media." I wound up selecting "communication." The instructions were clearer on H&R Block On Credit Karma Tax, I had trouble figuring out where to enter my California State Disability taxes because some of the instructions were contradictory. I emailed Credit Karma's support team for help and still hadn't heard back after a few days. Other than that, Credit Karma offered helpful instructions along the way, but I ultimately preferred H&R Block's easy-to-understand explainers. H&R Block made it perfectly clear in layman's terms what I would see on my W-2 and what I would need to enter, and where, on its form. In my opinion, H&R Block excels at step-by-step guidance, which makes it a great choice for first-time filers or anyone who wants to be fully informed on their tax situation. If you're confused at any point and want further explanation for any form, you can search for more answers in a side-bar without leaving the page you're on. I used this tool liberally and found every answer I was looking for. Winner: H&R Block Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: refunds Even though I set out to get my smallest refund ever this year by matching my withholdings to my tax liability, I still want to make sure I'm getting back every dollar I'm owed. Credit Karma Tax and H&R Block calculated the same federal refund for me, but the state tax refunds looked quite different. Credit Karma Tax calculated a state refund that was about $200 less than H&R Block. Maybe it had something to do with the previous issue regarding state disability taxes, but Credit Karma Tax never flagged an error in my data entry. Considering my refund amounts, even with the fee I would be paying H&R Block for the Deluxe Online package — a total of $67 for my federal and state returns (prices were discounted earlier this tax season) — I'd still wind up with more money in my pocket than if I went with Credit Karma Tax's free service. Winner: H&R Block Learn more about Credit Karma Tax » Learn more about H&R Block » This post was originally published in February 2020. It was updated July 8. Related Content Module: Countdown to Tax DayJoin the conversation about this story »
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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
The IRS has extended the tax deadline to July 15, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic....The IRS has extended the tax deadline to July 15, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The fastest and safest way to receive your refund is to file your taxes electronically and request direct deposit. The IRS typically issues 90% of tax refunds within 21 days of filing, but there could be delays due to office closures. The IRS has resources to help you file your taxes and track your refund. This post has been reviewed for accuracy by Thomas C. Corley, CPA. See Business Insider's picks for the best tax software » Most people dread filing their taxes — but nearly everyone is hoping for a refund. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has pushed the tax-filing and tax payment deadline back 90 days, to July 15. If you're expecting to get money back this year, you may be wondering exactly when you will receive your tax refund. Typically the IRS pays out most refunds within 21 days of receiving an electronic tax return, though office closures may have delayed some payouts. Where's my tax refund? Filing online and requesting direct deposit is the quickest way to get your federal tax refund, according to the IRS, which issues 90% of refunds within 21 days. Your state refund, however, may take longer. According to IRS data, over 111 million Americans received federal tax refunds last year, averaging $2,860 per refund. Just over 138 million taxpayers filed electronically and nearly 92 million received their refunds via direct deposit. Taxpayers can check the status of their tax refund using the IRS's refund-tracking service within 24 hours of filing a tax return online or within four weeks of mailing a paper return. The IRS updates its system daily, usually overnight. To check your refund status, you'll need three things: Your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number Your filing status The exact refund amount When will I get my tax refund? After the IRS processes your tax return — which typically takes up to three weeks from your filing date — it will deposit your refund in up to three separate bank accounts, as long as they're held in your name as an individual account or you and your spouse's name as a joint account. If you file by the traditional paper-and-pencil method and request your refund as a check, it will generally arrive via snail mail within six weeks of filing. If it doesn't, an error or incompletion may be holding up the process. For taxpayers claiming credits, refunds may take longer. The IRS says certain credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional Child Tax Credit, cannot be issued until mid-February as a means to protect against identity theft and tax fraud. Those refunds usually become available in early March. It's unclear how the tax deadline extensions and the coronavirus pandemic will affect this. Why am I getting a tax refund? If you're getting a tax refund, it means you overpaid in taxes throughout the year. When you start a new job, you fill out a W-4 form to let your employer know how much to withhold from each paycheck to cover your tax liability. If too little is withheld, you'll owe taxes by the tax day deadline, now July 15. If too much was withheld, that money is refunded. More tax day coverage: When are taxes due? How to file taxes for 2019 Should I do my own taxes? Credit Karma vs. TurboTax Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
TurboTax and H&R Block are the two biggest tax preparation services in the United States. Both...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 » 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: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.