Get Your Slice of the Stimulus Pie with Tax Software from H&R Block and TurboTax
According to the White House, 95% of American households are eligible to benefit from the American Recovery and Investment Act this current income tax season. Some families may be able to claim more than $13,000 in tax breaks (credits and deductions) as a result . . . which leaves many people wondering just what they should claim on their tax return – and how to do it – to get their piece of the economic stimulus pie.
The new 2009 versions of tax software from H&R Block and Intuit (TurboTax) were developed to guide users through the more than 350 income tax credits and deductions available this year and make it easy for people to get the maximum refund possible for your situation. In addition, your options for receiving an income tax refund have expanded from a mailed physical check, direct deposit or debit card to include an automatic savings option by receiving your refund in the form of a U.S. Savings Bond.
H&R Block at Home (formerly TaxCut)
- Updated user interface – Recognizing that people tend to spend 1-3 hours doing their taxes, H&R Block has redesigned the look and feel of its tax software program with brighter colors, less text and simpler language so that people are less likely to miss important information – in both the online and desktop software versions.
- Greater personalization – H&R Block At Home tailors questions and suggestions to common activities and tax deductions for your industry. (I.e. prompting you for mileage information if relevant to your occupation.)
- Smart Import – Features simple imports of W-2 and 1099 data and prior year tax information from TaxCut or even from TurboTax.
- Best of both – For those still left with questions, they offer unlimited help and answers to questions from an H&R Block tax professional at point-of-need. Or, if you’d like, you can have an H&R Block tax professional review your return for missed tax credits, deductions or mistakes (s/he just then needs to sign the return as the preparer of record and e-file the return).
- Smart-checking and accuracy – Intuit has found that it’s easier to correct income tax return errors at the point they are made rather than finish a return and go back to fix errors, so they’ve moved to real-time error-checking rather than waiting until the end of each section. For instance, TurboTax will prompt you if you’ve filled in a code, but missed filling in the correlating amount as a separate line item. This also helps to ensure people don’t miss out on appropriate deductions.
TurboTax claims that an estimated 5.6 million eligible taxpayers failed to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit last year, missing out on as much as $4,600.
- Flag feature – Most people complete their income taxes in two or more sessions, so Intuit created a new icon in the upper right navigation bar “flags” questions to come back to later. Once you’ve started flagging different blanks to come back and fill in, you’ll see a drop down list of the items you flagged to return to when it’s convenient for you without losing any of the information you’ve already filled-in.
- Live community – A side panel on the right shows common user questions that are relevant to that page, with instant answers provided by tax experts, supervisors, technical experts and “power users,” so that many people may find their specific question or situation is more common than they otherwise thought. Over 10 million people have interacted with the Live Community feature over the past three years, and it works in both the online and desktop software versions.
- Instantly transfer information – TurboTax can instantly import wage and investment data from over 140 financial institutions and payroll providers.
|H&R Block at Home||TurboTax|
|Basic/1040 EZ filers - FREE||Basic/1040 EZ filers - FREE|
|Deluxe (for investors and homeowners)*
Available at Amazon.com: $35
|Deluxe (maximizing deductions for most taxpayers)*
Available at Amazon.com: $46
|Premium (self-employed or rental property owners)
Available at Amazon.com: $45
|Premier (investors and rental property owners)
Available at Amazon.com: $68
|Premium & Business (users wanting help from a tax professional)
Available at Amazon.com: $60
|Home & Business (freelance consultants and contractors)
Available at Amazon.com: $74
|Business (corporations, LLCs)
Available at Amazon.com: $97
*Recommended for most returning customers.