H&R Block At Home On Sale: Deluxe + State $19.99 CD or Download

Long-time readers know I’ve always favored tax software installed locally as opposed to entering my tax data online, primarily due to security concerns.

Right now Amazon is having a sale for the tax software H&R Block At Home (formerly TaxCut). The Deluxe + State edition is selling for $19.99. A week ago it was $36.00. Based on the experience from previous years, this is about the lowest price it goes.

The price is the same $19.99 for either a boxed CD or a download. If you want the CD, you will need Amazon Prime or buy another $5.01 worth of stuff to get free shipping. I bought the download.

There’s also a Premium + State download for $29.99. It includes some additional tools for self-employed and rental property owners. Deluxe + State worked just fine for me in previous years including handling Schedule C and Schedule SE for self-employment.

In 2009 I compared side-by-side the three major products: TurboTax, H&R Block At Home (formerly TaxCut), and TaxACT. I came to the conclusion they all deliver the same results, give or take a dollar here or there due to rounding. The choice comes down to price and usability.

Having used all three, now I settled down to H&R Block At Home. It’s usually substantially cheaper than the market-share leader TurboTax even after a Costco coupon. Right now the price for a comparable TurboTax Deluxe with State is $39.79 after a $10-off coupon at Costco. That’s almost double.

In my experience, H&R Block At Home is just as good as TurboTax. After you add the state-filing option to TaxACT, TaxACT becomes almost just as expensive as H&R Block At Home but TaxACT wasn’t as user-friendly when I used it.

Amazon changes its prices frequently. If you like this software, buy it before the price goes up. If you used TurboTax last year, H&R Block At Home will import the TurboTax file.

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Comments

  1. schmoe says

    I am a regular Turbo Tax user, but H&R Block at $20 is a compelling offer.

    I do have concerns:

    - Turbo Tax has all my info over the last four years. Some of that info carries over to the next year, like IRA basis. How much of that info will H&R Block be able to parse from the Turbo Tax file, and how much will I be asked to reenter? I am sure H&R Block will parse a great deal, but can it parse 100%? Anybody know whether those companies share their file format information with each other? Or whether they are forced to reverse engineer the format?

    - Turbo Tax does a great job downloading my tax forms from various financial institutions? How does H&R Block do in that regard? Is there a standard file format for that stuff?

  2. TFB says

    @schmoe – When I switched from TurboTax to TaxCut as it was called back then, it imported all my past-year data from the TurboTax file, including carryovers. Because they are fierce competitors with each other (TaxACT is a distant third), I don’t suppose they share file formats with each other but they make sure they do a good job at reverse engineering because they want to make it easy for people to switch.

    H&R Block says the software can import W-2s, 1099s and 1098s but I can’t find their list of supported payroll providers or financial institutions. I don’t use the import function because a bad import can screw up things making it very difficult to fix. If importing is very important to you, I would guess TurboTax still has the lead in coverage.

  3. ameridan says

    I was lucky enough to get a totally free copy of this software in the mail from H&R Block that also included one free State e-file. I’m hoping the free State efile will become the norm perhaps next year, along with the 5 free Federal efiles they include now.

    One thing they’ve changed since “TaxCut” is the direct import of Money data into the program. Now you have to create a txf file in Money and import that file instead, but in actuality, I like the extra steps as it gives you more control over which data actually gets transferred. Be aware though that when you’re creating the file in Money, you will have to use the option “Other tax software”, rather than “TaxCut”.

  4. TFB says

    @ameridan – I heard about them mailing out CDs to people but I always thought those were teasers. You would have to pay to activate. If it’s completely free with no strings attached, great! I hope you get on the list every year!

  5. ameridan says

    @TFB

    No, it’s not a teaser, but regarding who they send it to, in my case it was sent to my late father-in-law who I had prepared his taxes and efiled them for him 3 years ago. The packaging even states “We want you back! – Import last year’s tax data from TurboTax software”. So I probably won’t be getting the CD next year.

    To anyone that does receive these freebies – install right away as they expire and require you to pay if you put off installing too long. (I found this out after trying to install the same software on a backup PC yesterday).

    I’ll look forward to your sale price announcement next year :)

  6. SD says

    Talking about freebies, Turbo Tax was offereing free download of all its software…deluxe..premiere etc…for Mac owners. I just grabbed it on the new year and good to go…includes free state filing…

    I will be doing my tax for the first time..i used to go to professional but lets see how it goes…I will be referring your website now and then as plan to get bonds for the tax refund..

    thanks TFB for all ur posts and quick replies

  7. Andrew says

    I followed the Amazon link in your article. The price is $36. I don’t know if Amazon just changed it, or whether they show different prices to different users.

    It is entirely possible that they have a special price for financial bloggers :-), but I did buy it from them last year for $20.

  8. TFB says

    @Andrew – Oh well, it’s back up to $36.00 now. If you wait, it will come down again to between $20 and $25. Register at onlinepricealert.com. It will check the price periodically and notify you when the price hits your target, although it didn’t catch this one-day sale for me this time.

  9. chris says

    Those are not true. You get the cd free but it auto. Charges you when you install and it is same price as the site. There is no such thing as freebie. Don’t feed in to trickery and don’t post until you have done it so you can tell people that you got suckered.

  10. matt says

    Take it easy Chris. :) I just popped the “free” disk in and it’s exactly like ameridan described (I’m also a former H&R software user, but had migrated the last few years to TaxACT). I can absolutely confirm that in this particular offer (“We want you back!”) that there is no auto charge. Indeed, how would that work, without entering your credit card info? If that had popped up, it would have been a pretty big red flag — but in my case (so far) it looks free. Of course, I love TaxACT and it’s $20-something — I may end up doing it both ways to compare the bottom line (yep, I’m a nerd!).

    OK, just finished installing — I’m running the app — and still no sign of an auto charge. I’m thinking you have the obnoxious disk they send every year confused with this particular offer. I’ve obviously never seen “free” before and I’m sure this time will be the last! ;)

  11. TFB says

    For those watching this post but missed the previous sale at $19.99, Amazon sells it for $24.99 now. Not as low as before but close enough.

  12. Lisa says

    So interesting to see this in my inbox this morning. I *just* did my 2012 taxes on TurboTax two days ago and have used TurboTax for the past 4 years. My taxes for last year were a little different as I did a ROTH conversion and also some rebalancing in my mutual fund holdings. All this combined caused me to calculate and pay AMT for 2012.

    While TurboTax was always great for simpler tax calculations, once I was in AMT land, TurboTax was absolutely terrible. It offered no help, no explanation of terms, and no guidance. The terminology was vague and confusing. The assumption was that I knew exactly what to do, would calculate all the required adjustments manually, and then simply fill in the TT blanks. I tried chat but there was a 30 minute plus wait. I called the help line (good luck finding the phone number online, you have to really want it) I waited close to an hour and then got someone who was absolutely clueless on AMT, offered no help, and couldn’t refer me to anyone more knowledgeable. He knew he didn’t know enough and even laughed about it.

    I muddled through on my own using the IRS’ web site and, once I finished my first pass on everything, TurboTax cheerily assured me 100% accuracy. But when I printed out all the forms and worksheets and looked it all I found errors which I had to go back and correct. (It showed my 401(k) conversion to the ROTH correctly but not the SEP conversion to the ROTH correctly.)

    I didn’t realize H&R Block also has a software package. I’ll be trying it out for my 2013 taxes.
    Thanks for the heads up.

  13. ameridan says

    H&R Block @ Home isn’t perfect either. After 6 calls to Tech Support to fix a bug dealing with Form 8889 (HSAs), they had me overide a checkbox incorrectly in order to get past an error that kept me from e-filing, rather than fixing the bug. They claim that the software is going to be totally rewritten next year (which I find hard to believe) and they don’t want to mess with the current code any more. I got a CD in the mail again this year, but it wasn’t totally free like last year, but $14.95 to activate it wasn’t bad.

  14. Harry says

    Lisa – Most errors happen not because the software itself has a bug but because the user didn’t understand the question and checked the wrong box or entered the wrong number. 100% accuracy is only based on your inputs, not your actual tax situation. I find TurboTax asking too many questions that don’t apply to most people. Even AMT is very simple to most people. There are many adjustments but they usually don’t apply. One can say TurboTax is thorough. At the same time it also confuses 99% of the people in order to catch that 1% that needed the adjustment. I find H&R Block At Home strikes a good balance. Not perfect of course but it doesn’t drag everybody through fields most don’t care about.

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