6 Warnings About Using H&R Block for Your Taxes, According to Experts
There are some things you may not know about popular tax preparation service.
Even if you know what you're doing, attempting to file your taxes on your own can be a daunting experience. That's why many people turn to services like H&R Block, which can help ensure they'll get done quickly and accurately without too much hassle. But while it can be a valuable resource, there are still a few things people should know before they start the process. Read on for warnings about using H&R Block for your taxes, according to financial experts.
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You have to read the fine print.
Part of the reason people choose to seek out help with their taxes is all of the fine print and obscure rules that make the process so difficult. Unfortunately, this is still the case with services like H&R Block.
"Make sure you understand the finer print of the tax software plan you purchase," says Riley Adams, a certified public accountant and founder of Young and the Invested. "H&R Block offers several services, but you need to review all of the terms offered with your specific purchase."
"For example, did you buy a software package that you think covers you in the case of an IRS audit but that actually required the purchase of a higher tier? Make sure you review the exact terms of the plan you buy," he suggests.
The service isn't always perfect.
Anyone who is completely lost on how to file their taxes will certainly benefit from bringing in some outside help. But if you're counting on it being a foolproof option, experts warn that you could still end up disappointed.
"Mistakes can still happen, even with a trained H&R Block tax preparer," Levon L. Galstyan, a certified public accountant at Oak View Law Group in California, tells Best Life. "It's ultimately your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of your tax return, so be sure to review it carefully before submitting it to the IRS."
Part of this boils down to how your filing is prepared. "While H&R Block tax preparers can help with your taxes, they are not financial advisors or tax attorneys. If you have complex tax questions or concerns, it's best to consult with a professional who specializes in those areas," he suggests.
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It may not be worth it for anyone with complex tax situations.
The U.S. tax system is an undeniably complicated one, no matter what your income or profession may be. And while H&R Block can be an easy solution for someone with a relatively simple filing, Adams warns that anyone with an unusual financial situation will likely need something a little more robust to ensure they're filing correctly.
"Tax software advertises its ability to handle almost all tax situations—and usually, it can genuinely handle most. But some situations are so complex that consulting a professional from the start is wise," he says.
"Several tax software companies have pivoted to add direct access to tax professionals to answer questions or provide tax planning advice, but this is in varying tiers, depending on your needs and willingness to pay. H&R Block has offered such accommodation to filers for some time, offering the ability to consult tax professionals at their in-person office locations around the U.S.," he points out.
But if you're someone who has "ongoing needs," you should probably consider hiring a tax professional you can work with year after year, Adams suggests. "This maintains complete familiarity with your tax situation and offers the chance to work proactively to make the best decisions for your unique situation," he notes.
It may end up costing more than you expect.
Anyone seeking outside help on their taxes is likely willing to pay an upfront fee for the service. After all, many people go to H&R Block to be certain they file correctly and avoid any penalties or fees down the line. But experts caution that some taxpayers may end up having to shell out more than they initially anticipated.
"It's important to be aware of any hidden expenses that may come with using H&R Block's tax preparation services," says Galstyan. "While they may advertise low prices, there may be additional fees for certain services, so it's essential to read the fine print and understand the total cost before signing up.
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Data privacy could be an issue.
These days, it seems as though major data breaches are occurring more often than ever before, as hackers steal personal information from merchants and other services. And while plenty of safeguards are in place that protect consumers, experts caution that filing with an independent service like H&R Block could potentially put your data in a vulnerable position for future attacks.
"Data breaches have become increasingly common in today's digital-first world, so working through a software provider to complete your taxes shouldn't cause surprise that you're providing sensitive personal data and thus exposing yourself to data privacy risks," says Adams. "This can include communicating your information through a web portal for online tax software, potentially exposing yourself to the risk of data hacking or theft."
Companies are strongly encouraged (or sometimes actually required) to use "industry best practice data security methods," Adams says. But that's still no guarantee that your data will be 100 percent secure, so it's important to be aware of the risks involved.
The tools are innovative, but you know your tax situation best.
Tax filing services and tools can offer an easy fix for millions of taxpayers who just need a little help preparing their information. But ultimately, using software can lead to a different kind of confusion that generates the same problems in the end. Because of this, experts warn that you shouldn't let the tool force any errors on you during the process.
"Like several others, the H&R Block tax software system provides a Q&A-based format for identifying your tax information. But if you accidentally answer a question incorrectly, it could unintentionally obscure part of your true tax situation," Adams warns. "For example, did you have a crypto trade that you forgot to report? How about a taxable gain on a home you sold? Or earned income reported on a 1099-NEC but not sent to your correct address?"
In other words, H&R Block's many tools are only as useful as your ability to maintain a handle on your personal tax situations.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date financial information from top experts and the latest news and research, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the money you're spending, saving, or investing, always consult your financial advisor directly.