Although H&R Block At Home 2011 tax software works fine in most tests, experts almost unanimously prefer archrival TurboTax. They say TurboTax looks more polished, with an interview that's more intuitive and easier to navigate -- enough so that TurboTax is worth its additional cost.
H&R Block offers similar levels of desktop software for $5 to $25 less than TurboTax, although if you opt for the online versions, both brands cost the same. You can choose from a stripped-down H&R Block At Home Free edition; a Basic version (*Est. $25, or $20 online) that lets you import W-2s, last year's return and other tax data; a Deluxe version (*Est. $40, or $30 online) with more guidance for homeowners and investors; a Premium version (*Est. $50 desktop or online) with advanced tools for self-employed people and rental property owners; Premium and Business (*Est. $75 desktop only), designed for business owners; or Best of Both (*Est. $80 online only), an unusual product that lets you do your own taxes online, then have an H&R Block pro review, correct, certify and e-file your return for you.
Deluxe and higher versions will let you prepare your state tax return for free, but it will cost you extra to e-file your state taxes: $20 extra with the desktop versions or $35 extra with the online versions. All H&R Block At Home versions are compatible with Windows and Mac.
All of our top tax-software review sources -- PCMag.com, PC World, The New York Times and Macworld -- test H&R Block At Home software alongside TurboTax. Most test online versions, but those work the same as the boxed or downloaded ones. Amazon.com hosts plenty of user reviews for boxed/download versions of this software.
H&R Block At Home handles most tasks well in this test -- but not the final accuracy review. When Kathy Yakal leaves out her home office square footage, the software forces her to go all the way back to the beginning of Schedule C and click repeatedly until she finds the place to fill it in.
Review: H&R Block At Home Deluxe Online (2011), Kathy Yakal, Jan. 27, 2012
2. PC World
H&R Block At Home loses in this comparison to TurboTax. Yardena Arar finds that H&R Block's software doesn't import as much data as TurboTax does, looks more "spartan" and is tougher to navigate.
Review: Tax Sites: TurboTax Is Still the One to Beat, Yardena Arar, Feb. 16, 2012
3. The New York Times
In this comparison test, H&R Block At Home proves quickest with expert help when tester Tim Gray has a question. But it refuses to give him an energy tax credit that he deserves -- a credit that TurboTax and TaxACT handle without a hitch.
Review: Taking Tax Software for a Walk, Tim Gray, Feb. 11, 2012
Jeffery Battersby knocks half a point off of H&R Block At Home's rating, thanks to a user interface that "seems a bit austere" compared to his favorite TurboTax. But he doesn't run into any real problems in his test, and he gives it a high overall score of 4.5.
Review: At Home Premium 2011, Jeffery Battersby, Feb. 20, 2012
Amazon.com sells all of the boxed and download versions of H&R Block At Home, with overall user ratings ranging from 2.5 to 4 stars out of 5, depending on the version. The Deluxe version has amassed the most user reviews -- 145 -- with an overall score of 3.5 stars. More than one in six users gives it the lowest 1-star rating, with a lot of complaints that the software has bugs and customer service was no help.
Review: Tax Central 2011, Contributors to Amazon.com