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H&R Block et al? Anyone use them?

rdawson808

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I'm sitting here using TurboTax for our taxes and am starting to think that hiring a professional could be useful. The stupid thing is that my wife and I have fairly simple taxes. Few deductions, but enough to count, no special income or anything like that. It's pretty straight forward.

But the filing status is just confusing. We have both Fed and DC and can file either married joint or separate for the Fed and either Married joint or separately on the same filing for DC. It basically gives us three options given the combinations.

Option 1 is the smallest, then Option 2 is about twice that (with DC showing a large increase), and Option 3 is by far the largest, being more than 6 times Option 1 and more than twice Option 2 (where the Fed return shrinks but the DC return balloons).

But I have no clue about the rules for choosing these different filing statuses. Aren't there some guidelines? Has anyone used H&R Block or another service?

b
 

philosophe

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I would consider a private accountant. Ours has saved us lots of money over the years.

My impression is that H&R Block isn't any more helpful than Turbo Tax.
 

globetrotter

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I've used H&R since we came to the country. *********** it up royally one year, but then they fixed it for free. I'll be going back again this year.
 

bkk

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Absolute waste of money. I went to H&R several years ago. The impression I got was the people who worked there have that job for part time work, have no knowledge of taxes, and put numbers into software similar to Turbo Tax. You're paying for a service you could just as easily complete. Either get a pro to do it or get Turbo Tax.
 

jgold47

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I have been using taxact.com's free service for a couple of years now. Really, you just try to answer the questions as honestly as possible. I dont make enough to be worried, but I wouldnt be suprised if I have screwed up a couple of things here and there.

AFAIK - HR, Liberty, Jackson Hewittt, etc... are not much better. These people just go to a training class, and its all software driven.
 

Threak

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I worked for Block part-time during college.

The problem with going there is that they basically treat all their employees equally. So, you'll have someone with 15 years of experience working alongside someone who's completely clueless.

If you do decide to go that route, and don't have anyone to recommend you a tax preparer, try calling ahead to make an appointment. That way, when they schedule you, you can try to find out how many years of experience that person has. It's not the best indicator of quality, but it definitely tells you something. Also, go to an office that's been around for a few years. Some years a few new offices will spring up, and they'll staff them with new hires. The employees with a loyal client base like to stay put.

The most important hint of advice, though, is that you're under no obligation to pay them if you're not satisfied. So if you go get your taxes done, they review them in front of you, and don't have any confidence in the work they did, you can take your paperwork and go. You'll still be in their system, so they may call you a few weeks later asking you to come back, but you don't have much to lose.

One more thing: I don't know about your DC taxes, but for the Federal, Married Filing Joint should always come out about equal to or greater than the sum of both Married Filing Seperate returns. If MFS is giving you more money, chances are there's something wrong.
 

tiecollector

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I have never needed to file anything other than a 1040EZ in the past, but since I just bought a car and a house and have started a business I will use an accountant this year just to see what they do. Next year I'll probably follow what they did and do it myself.
 

huy

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Don't go to H&R Block or similar businesses. Taxes are really easy and doesn't take long at all. I also second using Taxact to do your return. It's what I use and is very easy to navigate.

For your filling status, you are free to choose either option as both are correct. Choose the one that gives you the most money back.
 

Gradstudent78

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I did mine there for the last three years, cost me $83. This year I ended up getting a 1099 form I wasn't expecting so I had to do an amendment after filing. They wanted to charge me over $200 to file the amendment. I ended up getting it done for next to nothing because I personally knew the guy who was doing it, but I would have just walked and figured out how to do it myself for the original price.

I had three good people I worked with there who got my taxes done fast and had me in and out of there in no time at all. I had one person who was probably new and just took forever to do my relatively simple return.
 

freefinancialadvice

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Easy. Married filing jointly will get you the most favorable tax treatment for federal.

Then figure DC tax both ways and pick the lesser of two evils.

You don't need H+R block to tell you that. You need Google.

Also, return TurboTax to the address listed on the box, with a receipt from the store of original purchase, and attach a letter that says that you are not completely satisfied, and they will refund your money. Done it three years in a row now. (off the record). It's like taking candy from a baby.
 

JayJay

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Originally Posted by Threak
I worked for Block part-time during college.

The problem with going there is that they basically treat all their employees equally. So, you'll have someone with 15 years of experience working alongside someone who's completely clueless.

If you do decide to go that route, and don't have anyone to recommend you a tax preparer, try calling ahead to make an appointment. That way, when they schedule you, you can try to find out how many years of experience that person has. It's not the best indicator of quality, but it definitely tells you something. Also, go to an office that's been around for a few years. Some years a few new offices will spring up, and they'll staff them with new hires. The employees with a loyal client base like to stay put.

The most important hint of advice, though, is that you're under no obligation to pay them if you're not satisfied. So if you go get your taxes done, they review them in front of you, and don't have any confidence in the work they did, you can take your paperwork and go. You'll still be in their system, so they may call you a few weeks later asking you to come back, but you don't have much to lose.

One more thing: I don't know about your DC taxes, but for the Federal, Married Filing Joint should always come out about equal to or greater than the sum of both Married Filing Seperate returns. If MFS is giving you more money, chances are there's something wrong.

Sounds like good suggestions. I've never used H&R but my impression of them is not favorable.
 

micbain

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I would say it depends on how simple your tax return is (seems like it's probably just employment income slips, interest/dividend income, etc). I have no experience with H&R but I could see it being worthwhile if your return is very simple since its so cheap. I've worked at a very large audit/tax/advisory firm and did a rotation in tax pool. Basically it's just a bunch of first year students punching in the forms and then a tax manager/partner review it. I recall on many occasions where the tax return involved only a few income slips and the client being charged $600, $700, $800 plus. It's a joke, no way you need to pay that kind of coin for simple returns. I also know that we purposly charged high amounts on simple returns to get rid of these clients.
 

dshin

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I used H&R once almost 10 yrs ago...just out of college and had no idea what do do. They just took my W2s, asked some questions, and put in some #'s in his computer and that was it.
One yr we did use a professional...this was after my wife won a pretty significant amount of money at the casino. He knew what he was doing and got us a lot of money back.
But for the past 7 yrs, I've been using turbo tax. Over the past few yrs, my taxes got a little more complicated...my wife started her own business and then shut it down this yr, I itemize, write off my home office, have mileage deductions, etc...but it's still very simple using turbo tax.
 

whusurdadi

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I use a real accountant - I was a 1099 employee so he incorporated me to save unemployment taxes (I think?) and it's way too complicated for me to try and understand - my philosophy is $500 a year is better than getting audited and going to jail!
 

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