No one wants to waste their time, so when it comes to putting together tax returns everyone wants the chore to be over as quickly and as conveniently as possible. Thankfully, modern programs aim to provide such benefits, but whereas some solutions go even further to make the tax preparation process completely hassle-free others try to impress by proving their attentiveness with plenty of extra features of convenience. E-file and H&R Block are fine examples of both cases, but which one prevails: super simple E-file or feature-filled H&R?
|Free Versions||Free Versions||Free Versions|
|Filing for Deceased|
|Previous Years' Returns|
|Covered Tax Topics|
|Forms & Attachments|
|Email Confirmation||Filing only|
|Software & Platforms|
|State Tax Price||$25/state|
|IRS Audit Assistance||$29.95 (w/ ID protection)||$19.99|
|ID Theft Protection||$29.95 (w/ audit service)||$14.99|
|Available Payment Methods|
E-file is quite basic – lacking features of convenience like data importing, W-2 capturing, or autofilling of certain forms – but for taxpayers looking for reliable tax software it’s one of the best solutions to go for. One of the reasons behind this is that not only is it capable of putting together tax returns in no time but, unlike many of its competitors, it automatically upgrades itself to a higher-tier version in the background should it be required. The program – which organizes forms into easily understandable categories – explains all the steps in plain English and it does everything in its possession to keep your data safe thanks to built-in features like an activity log, device authentication prompts, or the toggleable two-factor authentication.
In addition to these default security features, there is also the option to add the Protection Plus package into the mix – or simply try it risk-free for 30 days – which provides full-on protection against identity theft as well as an audit by a tax expert. And if that’s not enough, E-file accounts are accessible via mobile browsers too, and aren’t restricted or limited in any way. This is already promising enough, but what truly makes E-file unbeatable is its prices: higher-tier versions of the software can be purchased for either $24.99 or $45.99 – depending on what forms you need to file – but since the company continuously provides coupons, those prices can be easily reduced even further.
Despite the fact that the initial experience with H&R Block will have you questioning some illogical choices made by its developers, it is still more than enough for the average taxpayer. However, go a little deeper below the surface and you’ll soon discover why it is that H&R has been on the market for decades. This is best demonstrated by the smaller, yet important details such as the informative summary pages that appear after the completion of each section or the thorough explanation of the calculated refunds. These features are already a huge asset for the tax return preparation process, but the service is even more convenient by being capable of autofilling forms from compatible expense management apps, tax returns from previous years regardless of where they were created, or via W-2s captured with the company’s iOS and Android app. The program also comes with tax expert support via live chat, though sadly it is only available during tax season. H&R even allows you to save on two of its extra features – the professional audit service and the theft ID preventer – when buying them in a bundle.
Unfortunately, to have many of the advanced features there is no other choice but to upgrade to the higher-tier products – although upgrades themselves are seamless and don’t interrupt the overall tax preparation process. Still, be prepared that by doing so you may end up paying $49.99, $69.99, or $94.99, which are just the base prices and don’t include the extra services or the added costs of state tax refunds.
Since both solutions provide accurate tax returns, you won’t go wrong with whichever option you choose. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any differences between the two. E-file, for instance, is more basic software that, despite not being able to auto-import and autofill forms, is more than enough for those who are looking for a tax prep program that does its job for probably the best prices on the market. H&R Block can still compete, however, in fact smaller features like its virtually flawless data importing, the mobile app that makes tax returns available on the go, or just the fact that it simply keeps users updated in a straightforward manner are all proof that this company deserves to be a leader of the market even after many decades.
Best Tax Software of 2020