Turbo tax vs HR block=bigger refund? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was wondering if there is a difference between the amount of refund you get back based on what tax service you use. My friends always get so much more than us it's crazy. I know a big part of it is they get EIC while we don't but Im also wondering if it's because they use H.R Block while we just do it ourselves with turbo tax. I'm talking a huge difference in our refunds for not that much difference in our income. Is it worth it to try a place like H.R. block? Has anyone else noticed an increase or decrease with one place or another?
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#2 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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are they willing to let you look at it so you can see what they write off that you don't? or maybe they will tell you?

I know it's generally not polite to ask, but you seem to know how much they make, so maybe it's ok.

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#3 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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I don't know about the diff in software, but could your friends be withholding more on their paycheck? I know we withhold the bare minimum, so we don't get all that much back. But our friends have a lot withheld, and get a much bigger refund.
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#4 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:08 PM
 
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H&R all the way!! If you get a good agent that is the best possible scenerio. They know every single way to find money for you and thats their job. Some might not be so great (comparable to turbo tax where it's up to you to figure it out, never being trained in doing taxes) while others are excellent. Dh and I have benifited soooooo much from having a wonderful h&r person. It helps that she is a family friend of course (and we only get chaarged $20 since we're on her family and friends list). When dh had himself incorporated in addition to working for a company his self employment pay had no taxes taken out so we had to get really clever with deductions and couldn't have come out in the green on our own using any programs. We ended up being able to write off the oddest things with the help of out h&r person and came out quite a bit ahead.

this year we made out like bandits!

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#5 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:14 PM
 
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In short, no the amount of the refund your receive shoul NOT depend on the preparation method. Whether you do it yourself with the booklet and paper forms, use tax prep software, go to H&R Block, or have a CPA prepare your return, if it is done correctly, the taxes should come out the same way regardless of how it was computed. I believe that most of the software programs out there have prompts to help you determine whether or not you should be getting additional credits or deductions.

While it is possible that you might be missing some sort of credit or deduction, I think the more likely scenario is that your friends are having too much withheld during the year and getting a large refund because they're getting their money paid back to them.

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#6 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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In short, no the amount of the refund your receive shoul NOT depend on the preparation method. Whether you do it yourself with the booklet and paper forms, use tax prep software, go to H&R Block, or have a CPA prepare your return, if it is done correctly, the taxes should come out the same way regardless of how it was computed. I believe that most of the software programs out there have prompts to help you determine whether or not you should be getting additional credits or deductions.

While it is possible that you might be missing some sort of credit or deduction, I think the more likely scenario is that your friends are having too much withheld during the year and getting a large refund because they're getting their money paid back to them.
:

You don't *want* a big refund. You want to not loan Uncle Sam any more money than you have to.

-Angela
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#7 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:33 PM
 
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I used Turbo Tax Home & Business and was very impressed. It cost me $73 though. I got more than I was expecting because I owed taxes on my home business and I forgot all about the child tax credit. It also walked me through any and all deductions for my home office, vehicle mileage deduction, etc. It was GREAT. I used basic Turbo Tax last year (free) and was also very impressed. I love doing my own taxes, though I'm sure if I made more money and had a more complicated financial scenario I would gladly pay someone to help me.
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#8 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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In short, no the amount of the refund your receive shoul NOT depend on the preparation method. Whether you do it yourself with the booklet and paper forms, use tax prep software, go to H&R Block, or have a CPA prepare your return, if it is done correctly, the taxes should come out the same way regardless of how it was computed. I believe that most of the software programs out there have prompts to help you determine whether or not you should be getting additional credits or deductions.

While it is possible that you might be missing some sort of credit or deduction, I think the more likely scenario is that your friends are having too much withheld during the year and getting a large refund because they're getting their money paid back to them.
This.

I hate thinking about how many people believe that the tax software determines the refund. Or how many people are losing money on their taxes becuse they don't know how the system works or how to find all their credits.
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#9 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know for a fact that one friend's DH claims all of them as exemptions.I know that's not the case with at least one. The other maybe but I really really doubt it. I seem to remember her complaining earlier this year that they take out so little taxes from them and she was worried about her refund at the end of the year.
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#10 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by alegna View Post
:

You don't *want* a big refund. You want to not loan Uncle Sam any more money than you have to.

-Angela
Exactly. A refund is money you have LOANED the federal government INTEREST FREE. You could have been spending that money or investing it in an interest bearing account.

They're probably withholding too much money from their checks.

Suze Orman, my guru, says you should aim to owe zero and get zero back at the end of the year.
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#11 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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We love Turbo Tax, especially for the price. I've heard horrible things about H&R, but haven't used them in probably 10 years and can't remember what our experience was like.

We find Turbo Tax to be very thourough. It takes you through step by step and finds all kinds of deductions. It's hard for me to imagine that an H&R Block person would find something different than what's on TT because they seem to cover it all, but I really don't know. That's just our experience.
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#12 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by jeca View Post
I was wondering if there is a difference between the amount of refund you get back based on what tax service you use. My friends always get so much more than us it's crazy. I know a big part of it is they get EIC while we don't but Im also wondering if it's because they use H.R Block while we just do it ourselves with turbo tax. I'm talking a huge difference in our refunds for not that much difference in our income. Is it worth it to try a place like H.R. block? Has anyone else noticed an increase or decrease with one place or another?
H&R block "tax preparers" use the exact same software you can buy in a store. We are actually using their brand (tax cut) this year.

If you have a similar income to them, and are getting less, it's due to either the EIC or child tax credit or over-withholding or their deductions.

It has nothing to do with the type of filing they do (paper, electronic, etc)
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#13 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 04:35 PM
 
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If you do your taxes correctly it shouldn't matter if it's done by H&R block, software, or good old fashioned paper forms. The amount should not depend on the method of filing used.

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#14 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 04:37 PM
 
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We have used Turbo Tax for the last 5 years or so and find it very user friendly.
Ditto the it doesnt matter who you use in relation to how big your refund is. If you know or are prompted to take any and all the deductons you can it will end up the same no matter where or with whom your taxes are figured.
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#15 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 05:04 PM
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We've also used Turbo Tax for several years. It's thorough and very user-friendly.

I used H&R Block many years ago.....one time. They charged me an arm and a leg. I always did my taxes by myself after that. I don't have to itemize, so it makes sense just to do it myself.
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#16 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll stick to turbo-tax then. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't cheating my family by being cheap and doing it myself.
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#17 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 05:36 PM
 
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If they are getting EIC and you are not, then that is going to make a HUGE difference.
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#18 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by llamalluv View Post
H&R block "tax preparers" use the exact same software you can buy in a store. We are actually using their brand (tax cut) this year.

If you have a similar income to them, and are getting less, it's due to either the EIC or child tax credit or over-withholding or their deductions.

It has nothing to do with the type of filing they do (paper, electronic, etc)
the software they use is not the same as the software from the store. It may be the same brand but it isn't the same. And what matters is who is filling in the blanks (and FINDING blanks that aren't on standard forms). Someone experienced in doing taxes is going to know every little way to save. Someone who does their own, once a year, is going to simply fill in what is asked and be unaware of other savings to be found elsewhere. Much of it is more in depth that your standard consumer software maker is going to incorporate. In addition, many people do their taxes incorrectly. If there is an error or something missed that decreases the rebate, the gov isn't going to give you a call and say, "oh, you missed something. We owe you more money". If you find a someone employed to do taxes, who truely cares about helping others they WILL say, "hey, you missed something".

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#19 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 06:49 PM
 
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We had a horrible experience using H&R Block's Tax Cut software a few years ago. We will never ever use them again. They messed up our refund and automatically put it on a visa card when we wanted it direct deposited. I was on hold with them for OVER 4 HOURS (and it was not in April, it was the end of Jan) just for them to tell me that I had agreed to putting it on the visa card which I most certainly had not. Low and behold a week goes by and an article comes out in one of the paper's about how H&R messed up and was putting everyone's refund on visa cards instead of doing the direct deposit they wanted. So we call again and this time they admit to it but say there's nothing they can do. Oh and I had to wait over 5 hours for that phone call. They were just awful.

I used to use Tax Slayer and they were ok but I really feel Turbo Tax is the most user friendly.

And EIC makes a huge difference. Also, do they have more kids than you? That can be huge too.

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#20 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 06:51 PM
 
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Oh and I forgot to say that my best friend is working for H&R Block this year doing people's taxes. She's was going to school to be an accountant but dropped out a few years ago with a few classes left. She never took any specific classes on taxes and she just took a short 4 hour training course with H&R Block.

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#21 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 07:13 PM
 
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Oh and I forgot to say that my best friend is working for H&R Block this year doing people's taxes. She's was going to school to be an accountant but dropped out a few years ago with a few classes left. She never took any specific classes on taxes and she just took a short 4 hour training course with H&R Block.
this is an important point - if you do chose to use H&R block or any tax preparer ask them about their background, eduction and experience. don't assume that the person knows what they are doing simply because they say they are.

as mentioned before, the H&R folks are basically filling in a tax software program with information you give them. there are some who are good and know additional questions to ask to help tease out more things, but there are alot who are doing exactly what you'd do with Turbo Tax.

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#22 of 29 Old 01-24-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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H&R Block has a service where they will look at your last year's returns that you prepared yourself (or had done elsewhere) to see if you "missed" anything. I think it's called Second Look, and last year it was somewhere around $20. If they find something, I think they tell you what the difference would be, but they don't tell you what the mistake was. You can then file with them at their full fees (not cheap), or try it again yourself. If the difference is significant and you can't find the errors on your own, the fees may be worthwhile.

I will say that for the most part I hate H&R Block and I think that they have highly unethical business practices, but there are some really good people that work there and are skilled preparers. I do think that the second look service can be helpful to some, especially if you find a *good* preparer.

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#23 of 29 Old 01-26-2009, 01:31 PM
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the software they use is not the same as the software from the store. It may be the same brand but it isn't the same. And what matters is who is filling in the blanks (and FINDING blanks that aren't on standard forms). Someone experienced in doing taxes is going to know every little way to save. Someone who does their own, once a year, is going to simply fill in what is asked and be unaware of other savings to be found elsewhere. Much of it is more in depth that your standard consumer software maker is going to incorporate. In addition, many people do their taxes incorrectly. If there is an error or something missed that decreases the rebate, the gov isn't going to give you a call and say, "oh, you missed something. We owe you more money". If you find a someone employed to do taxes, who truely cares about helping others they WILL say, "hey, you missed something".
Hmmm...yes. These "highly trained" "accountants".

http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/plannin..._students.html

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This course will give you the skills you need to prepare tax returns for H&R Block.* You don't need previous experience. Class sessions start in the summer at convenient times and locations near you. Whether you're employed full-time or part-time, a student, retired, or at home with children, there's a course time that fits your schedule.
Have you ever seen an H&R Block employee filing out a paper form? No? That's because they are using the software that H&R Block also markets as "Tax Cut". It might have a different user interface, but it's basically the same.
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#24 of 29 Old 01-26-2009, 05:46 PM
 
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The one time we used H&R Block, we got screwed big time. It put us on the path to some horrific debt (now long gone, but we had some very rough years).

Sadly, we didn't realize the error they made (and it was a doozy) for about six years.

We've used Turbo Tax (the online browser version) for the last several years and it's worked very well for us.

Before we owned a house and had a kid and all that, we typically just filled out the paper forms.

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#25 of 29 Old 01-26-2009, 08:10 PM
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The one time we used H&R Block, we got screwed big time. It put us on the path to some horrific debt (now long gone, but we had some very rough years).

Sadly, we didn't realize the error they made (and it was a doozy) for about six years.

We've used Turbo Tax (the online browser version) for the last several years and it's worked very well for us.

Before we owned a house and had a kid and all that, we typically just filled out the paper forms.
Oh, that stinks. My sister once took out the RapidRefund loan, and it turned out that her husband hadn't told her about not paying his child support, and the IRS snarfed the whole return. So they lost their return the following year, too, to pay back the loan.
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#26 of 29 Old 01-26-2009, 09:27 PM
 
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I have not been to an H&R Block office, but I've used both the Turbo Tax software and H&R Block's Tax Cut software. I actually found Tax Cut to be more user friendly--and it was cheaper.

Everyone I know IRL who has used an H&R Block tax preparer has had some kind of problem with their taxes. Now, granted it's usually been some unusual situation (non-custodial parents with dependent children, self-employed clergy with deductible housing costs, etc.), but to me, that's the reason you'd want some "professional" doing your taxes, because you don't want to have to figure it all out yourself.

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#27 of 29 Old 01-27-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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Hmmm...yes. These "highly trained" "accountants".
my h&r accountant has been at it for over 15 years and has the third highest customer returns in the region so I guess it's possible for some of them to be MUCH better at doing taxes than any ol' Joe.

I'm not an idiot, I'm aware some of them are pretty new to taxes... I'm also bright enough to know that some of them have been doing it for many years and are quite good. Luckily they give you the background info on all of their reps on their website so you can actually see just how much experience they have.

dh was self incorporated for a few years and our h&r lady really saved our butts. When we did out own taxes we filled in the blanks provided and called it good. When we went to our h&r lady the first time she brought up zillions of things we never knew existed because they weren't on the standard forms.

maybe, just maybe, it takes having someone good doing your taxes to prove knowledge and experience are benificial. Perhaps picking your tax prep person more wisely??

~TRACY, wife to loving dh, mommy to dd (10/05), ds(12/08), 3 kitties, & 2 pups.
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#28 of 29 Old 01-27-2009, 07:30 PM
 
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Well, I did my fathers taxes on both TT and HR and then same with ours.

I know how to do taxes by hand, so I understand the process quite well.

My father owes for last year, but TT has him owing about $500 more than HR. So I went over it by hand and sure enough, TT is right - he owes that $500 that HR somehow did NOT find.

I then did our taxes on both and then by hand. HR showed that we got (an example) $2500 back from feds. I don't know what it missed, but I then did them on TT and it was $4500 (well, two thousand more than HR figured). So I did them by hand and yep, TT was right.

I used to say how I liked HR, now I'm going back over our 05 - 07 taxes with TT to make sure things were right.
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#29 of 29 Old 01-27-2009, 07:35 PM
 
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Haven't used H&R Block, but I did use an independent person last year. My online TurboTax program was showing that I owed over $1000, between state and federal. I had her do my taxes (and she uses TurboTax, too), and I ended up clearing about $100. I have no idea what the difference was. I went over my stuff with a fine tooth comb before shelling out the money to pay her. I still don't know what the difference was, unless it was voodoo.

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