Turbo Tax vs. HR Block 2014 Tax Software

This is not meant to be a detailed comparison of the two products but since I had to file 7 tax returns this year (2 federal business taxes, 2 state business taxes, a federal and state personal return and a trust) I thought I would convey some general impressions.

Normally I buy Turbo Tax each year for my personal taxes and an accountant does the business taxes.  But since I am semi-retiring I thought I would do them all myself this year to save a little money.  I ended up picking the HR Block software because Turbo Tax had ported a bunch of the forms I needed over to their highest priced product on the personal tax software.

My impression is that HR Block Premium and Business gives you the most bang for the buck.  I was able to do all of my returns on it even including the corporate returns for a Sub-S and a Sub-C.   With Turbo Tax I would have paid maybe twice as much for the personal return and I do not believe they have a single product which will do all of what I needed done.  I would have had to purchase multiple products to achieve the same result.

But HR Block has its drawbacks.  You will need a much better understanding of tax law to use it.  It does not explain things as clearly and the interview process does not work well at all.  You are often just dumped into forms to fill them out yourself.  If you decide to try running a couple of different scenarios to see which gives you the lowest tax, such as filing separately vs. as a married couple, then it will dump information you need when switching.  I never had Turbo Tax do this.

HR Block also gives the wrong advice in places.  It told me that the TN F&E could be mailed but state laws says it must be filed electronically.  It will also not work with your standard .pdf print driver but installs its own virtual printer.  And their support hotline is truly abysmal.  I was trying to see if one of the glitches I was experiencing was a bug and the person kept insisting they couldn’t give me tax advice, so you are left trying to guess what the right combination of words would be to jump through whatever hoop they were using to determine whether they would tell you what you wanted to know.  It was madness.  It felt very much like the original text based adventure games like Zork where you had to produce exactly the right combination of words before you could move to the next level.

On the plus side it has free audit support which Turbo Tax charges for.  As mentioned, you can file more returns with a single copy of the program and it can handle a wider array of returns.

My advice is that if you are very familiar with the parts of the tax code you need to do your specific return then use HR Block.  If you need a lot of hand-holding or have simple needs then use Turbo Tax.  In my case I thought it was worthwhile to learn more about the tax code since I had the time to do it, but based on past experience Turbo Tax would likely have been far more efficient timewise.

You can purchase either type of software through my Amazon affiliate ink here.

About the only other thing worth noting is that both programs will give you a 10% credit on your tax refund if you receive the refund as a gift card to certain retailers.  So if your refund is $500 and you decide you want it as a credit you will get a gift card in the amount of $550.   Amazon is the retailer for Turbo Tax and HR Block has several to choose from.

These days a 10% return from any investment is very substantial and can easily pay for next year’s software.

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