The Best Free Online Tax Filing Experience in 2024: H&R Block Review

H&R Block
H&R Block

H&R Block is among the 2024 Editors’ Choice selections on Cnet. This year, the free tax filing experience is the finest, and the online tax filing program has a terrific digital interface and excellent support choices.

This year, the corporation provides four tax return filing tiers: Free Online, Deluxe, Premium, and Self-Employed. Compared to TurboTax, the Block Free Online provides more forms and schedules. This Block also provides live tax professional online support and in-person advice at a nearby branch.

The primary drawback of the tax service is that, unlike TurboTax, it doesn’t hold your hand through its interview-style interface. Additionally unavailable to free tax filers is its new AI Tax Assist chatbot.

For those reasons, the Block just misses the top spot on our 2024 list of the best tax software providers. It is worthwhile to think about, though, if you can take advantage of its free filing tier or would like to pay a little less. 

Who is H&R Block Best For?

If you’re filing taxes and are prepared to pay for convenience, the Block has a solution that works for you. Anyone who hasn’t done their taxes alone before or who has had major life events lately can profit from the advice H&R Block offers.

Big-time savers are the tax form import and upload features, although there are less expensive (or free) choices available if you’re comfortable entering the figures yourself.

Getting Started With H&R Block

When you initially open an account, the Block wants to make sure of two things. It wants you to pick the correct version (though you can change versions as you go along) and it wants your tax data to remain protected. The site asks which financial circumstances—such as having dependents, renting out properties, and earning from self-employment—apply to you once you have satisfied its security standards. Your answers determine which Block version is best for you.

Though you can always add more, the Block highlights the areas that pertain to you after you start entering your tax information. As with TurboTax, you can import important data from your taxes filed last year with the Block or another online tax provider. Importing data from W-2s and 1099s, or using other techniques to avoid putting everything in, can save time entering data and reduce mistakes.

Who should use H&R Block tax software?

If you would like to skip TurboTax and save a few bucks, the  Block is a good and familiar choice.

This Block is simplifying the TurboTax move this year with Direct Import. Through the tool, the  Block consumers can enter the phone number linked to their Intuit account to retrieve their TurboTax data.

Though you will give up a little better user experience on TurboTax, it will be difficult to locate a better free alternative that runs as smoothly as the Block. Compared to its competitor, the Free Online edition enables a larger variety of credits and tax forms and covers adults and students with basic returns.

Using the Block could also be beneficial to taxpayers who would prefer the choice of scheduling an in-person appointment with a tax preparation expert.

Customers of the Block pay per state tax return, the same as TurboTax does. You may choose to search elsewhere if you are filing returns in more than one state. For $25, Jackson Hewitt, for example, provides your federal return in addition to unlimited state returns.

What are H&R Block’s different products?

The four online products offered by the Block—Free Online, Deluxe, Premium, and Self-Employed—currently cost between $0 and $115. Your desired level of assistance and the deductions and tax credits you wish to claim will determine the optimum tier for you.

Pricing could go up as April 15th, tax day draws near.

With every Block tax plan, you get free basic audit help. But more “Worry-Free Audit Support”—which includes IRS correspondence and in-person audit representation—will set you back more.

If you need individual help, the Block provides the choice to have a tax professional evaluate your return or to send your taxes to an expert for an extra charge (beginning at $55 and $89, respectively).

This year, the Block launched AI Tax Assist, a chatbot that answers a series of often-asked questions to help walk tax filers through the process. However, clients on the Free Online tier are not eligible for this functionality.

Free Online: Best for students and most W-2 employees

H&R Block

H&R Block

Filing federal taxes with the Free Online plan is free, as is filing taxes with each state. With its ability to deduct student loan interest, tuition, and fees as well as education tax credits, this plan is ideal for W-2 workers with straightforward tax returns.

More credits and tax forms are available under the free plan than with TurboTax, and it includes adults and students with basic returns. Schedules 1 through 3 are part of the free package. Along with reporting a wide range of incomes, you can claim expenses like schooling and unemployment benefits.

Upgrade to the Deluxe plan if you require professional assistance with your tax file or, at the very least, want access to the Block’s new AI Tax Assist

Deluxe: Ideal for HSA contributors and deduction itemization

Deluxe provides all that is available in Free Online plus support for health savings accounts, the child and dependent care tax credit, and mortgage interest payments in addition to itemized deductions.

Not sure if this year you should itemize? To find out if any costs apply to you, consult Schedule A. In 2023, for example, you might have paid a large property tax bill, had personal medical costs, or made a charitable donation. Itemizing could make sense if your total permitted deductions exceed the standard deduction.

H&R Block has a Deluxe option for filing self-employment taxes as well. All you can do, though, is declare various income sources using Schedule C. It looks like itemizing business expenses will require an upgrade to the Self-Employed tier.

Right now, the Deluxe plan from the Block costs $55 for a federal return and $49 for each state filing. Like with every other Block plan, the Deluxe plan allows you to add expert tax help from a live tax expert.

Premium: Best for investors and landlords

For people in more intricate tax circumstances, the Premium tier offers many levels of tax services.

You qualify for the Premium plan if you made money from a rental property and had substantial gains from selling investments or cryptocurrencies. You can report company expenses but not self-employment income with the Premium tier of the Block.

Investors looking to save money over filing with TurboTax may find the Premium tier at the  Block to be a profitable approach. Under present pricing, a federal return from H&R Block’s Premium tier costs $85 and a state return costs $49. Additionally offered with this tier is AI Tax Assist.

This year, TurboTax has combined its self-employed category with its Premium filing option; federal tax returns start at $129, and state filings start at $64.

Self-Employed: Ideal for contractors, freelancers and company owners

H&R Block’s most costly plan is the Self-Employed one, which presently costs $115 for a federal return and $49 for each state. You get everything the service’s less expensive tiers give plus extra for that amount.

Small business owners, gig workers, and freelancers are the greatest candidates for the Self-Employed plan. In 2023, if you have an additional source of income or a side job, you’ll probably need to choose this sophisticated tax preparation plan.

How does H&R Block work?

There won’t be much of a learning curve with the Block’s user interface if you’ve already used TurboTax. While it doesn’t provide the same level of assistance as its primary rival, it does provide an interview-style concept where you can answer questions to find out things like your filing status and the best tax plan for you.

Because of the variety of tax forms, the Block offers under its free filing option, I was able to qualify for the Block’s Free Online Tier based on my tax position this year. The Free Edition of TurboTax was not available to me.

Using the Block’s online platform is simple, even without the help of its new AI Tax Assist chatbot or a real tax professional. I enjoy that the Block lets me go between tabs and enter tax data in any order I’d like.

Additionally easily available are help screens. They appear on a right-hand side panel of the screen. To avoid constantly shifting my eyes, I would rather have help displays in the middle of the page. However, I can see why H&R Block handles it this way—if you leave the help screen open, it will automatically respond to any queries you may have while completing the task. This could be especially beneficial to some folks.

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Is H&R Block Safe to Use?

H&R Block

H&R Block

Multiple layers of protection are available on all H&R Block websites, including multi-factor authentication and industry-standard web-browsing encryption technologies. Your data is secure and under constant observation. The corporation houses its servers, networks, and data centers in secure premises, and it hires outside security specialists to conduct audits and evaluate threats.

PCMag advises taking more fundamental safety precautions, such as only utilizing a trusted network, like your home Wi-Fi, anytime you enter personal and financial information online like you do while preparing and paying your taxes.

Do the tax professional services offered by H&R Block justify the price?

Depending on how hard your taxes are and how comfortable you are filing them yourself, that is. Personalized help won’t be necessary for most taxpayers in typical tax circumstances, though.

Although not nearly as simple as TurboTax, H&R Block’s do-it-yourself tax choices help you go through the tax filing process rather easily. Most questions will have their answers in its free online resources. Furthermore, you will have access to the new AI tax assistant from the Block and live expert assistance via chat with the Deluxe, Premium, and Self-Employed plans. Giving your paperwork to the tax professional service at the  Block is probably not essential unless your tax position is very complex or unclear this year.

Entrusting your taxes to an H&R Block tax expert will cost you the following:

Tax situation A tax professional’s estimated filing cost
W-2 income Starting at $89; the state is additional
Student loans/tuition; retirement income Starting at $150; the state is additional
Sold stocks/crypto Starting at $165; the state is additional
Claiming dependents Starting at $185; the state is additional
Self-employed; had a side hustle Starting at $203; the state is additional
Owned rental property Starting at $240; the state is additional

Other notable features H&R Block offers

Visitors to their website can access several free tax tools, including a tax calculator to estimate your refund, a “where’s my refund?” feature to track the status of your return, and a tax preparation checklist to review before starting the tax filing process.

H&R Block offers you a few options on how to get your tax refund:

  • Straight deposit
  • IRS postal paper check
  • Transfer from H&R Block to a Spruce mobile banking account
  • Send to Emerald Card, a prepaid debit card

Offerings from H&R Block include the Emerald Card, a prepaid debit card with the Mastercard brand issued by Pathward, N.A. It operates at stores and ATMs similarly to any other debit card, and the “Zero Liability” policy of Mastercard and the FDIC safeguards funds. Manage the card with the MyBlock smartphone app. Just make sure you check the fees and read the H&R Block Cardholder Agreement before registering.

Refund Transfer is another tool available to pay for your H&R Block tax preparation costs with your anticipated tax refund; a federal return will incur an extra charge of $39, though. Clients of assisted tax preparation will not be charged for transfers of state refunds.

Excellent Mobile Apps

They are so good that I would be prepared to file my taxes using one of the Android or iOS mobile apps from H&R Block. You may lose some time for connections to work depending on how responsive your phone is, but the Block is not to blame for that. 

The apps are excellent copies of the UI and navigation tools found in the desktop version. Even in the convoluted part on self-employment, I notice nothing lacking. Standard assistance and AI Tax Assist function flawlessly on the mobile version.


Having served customers for decades, H&R Block is a reliable tax filing service. Taxpayers would probably find it easy to select among the packages because the offers are straightforward and unambiguous. It’s an easier choice to afford because the price is less than that of some other industry leaders.

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