Because of COVID-19, the US government extended the tax filing deadline without penalty to tomorrow, July 15th so the procrastinators are scrambling to file their taxes in time.
If you do not have an accountant or have not booked a time for your tax guy (or gal) to hook up your taxes in time, you can still get an extension albeit with the penalty. Alternatively, if you have time and a simple return, you can use any number of online or package filing tax software.
In past, we have used with ease H&R Block’s online service for our teen. The company is part of the IRS Free File Alliance and offers free state and federal filing for taxpayers between the ages of 17 and 51 with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $69,000 or less and active members of the military.
This is great for your teen or college kid who works all year and earns enough money to not be tax exempt!
One of H&R Block’s biggest pluses is its free version, which is better than most. Like the free tax software from most of its competitors, H&R Block Free lets you file the Form 1040, take the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit and the credit for the elderly or disabled.
But it also lets you file schedules 1, 2 and 3, which is a big bonus because many taxpayers need to file those forms. Schedules 1-3 are forms you would need in the process of reporting things such as business income, alimony, deductible student loan interest, certain retirement contributions, the alternative minimum tax, the credit for dependent care expenses, the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Saver’s Credit.
If you plan to itemize deductions, were a landlord, freelanced or ran a small business or had any other situations going on, you’ll probably need to upgrade to one of H&R Block’s paid packages. These are solid choices as well — maybe not be as flashy as TurboTax, but they’ll get you from Point A to Point B on your tax return without any trouble. And while it isn’t discount software, it’s not the most expensive option either. That makes it a solid choice for value-seekers who still want sturdy support options and modern features.
What it looks like
H&R Block’s interface is good-looking, straightforward and easy to use, and it steps up to explain concepts as you go. You can skip around if you want to, and a banner across the top keeps track of where you stand in the process. A Price Preview button up top also tells you the tax-prep package you’re buying and how much it costs.
There is a W-2 photo import, which lets you avoid time spent keying in numbers from little boxes. You can import 1099s, and the Premium and Self-Employed packages also import data from some popular expense-tracking apps.
Help is available within the preparation process — terminology in the question-and-answer process is hyperlinked with a “learn more” tag so you can get more information without having to wander around. The help menu updates according to where you are, and you can click to access the Online Assist portal.
H&R Block will import last year’s return from other tax prep companies. The free version doesn’t automatically import last year’s H&R Block return, though.
Where you can use it
Because the software is online, you can log in from other devices if you choose to work on your return here and there. There is also a mobile app available.