- H&R Block has a free filing option for taxpayers who only need to submit a basic return.
- If your taxes are more complicated, you may need to pay for an upgrade.
It might seem too good to be true -- but it's not.
There are few things in life that are actually free. But if you need to file a tax return, you may be able to do so at no cost. H&R Block is one tax software provider that offers filers the opportunity to do their taxes for free. But is that an option you'll get to take advantage of? Here's what you should know.
File a tax return without paying a dime
If you have a simple tax return, H&R Block has a service that allows you to file both a federal and state tax return at no cost. The free software also allows you to file Schedules 1 and 3 with your 1040.
As a quick refresher, Form 1040 is the individual tax return form filers use. Schedule 1, meanwhile, allows taxpayers to report adjustments to income that can't be entered directly on Form 1040 (like IRA contributions), while Schedule 3 lets you claim additional tax credits and payments.
The latter is important, because this year, a lot of people may seek to claim tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. While the Child Tax Credit was partially paid in monthly installments last year, recipients will need to claim the remainder this year.
Will H&R Block's free service work for you?
H&R Block's free software is suitable for a lot of people. If you don't have income to report outside of your salary, then you should be all set to opt for the free version. This holds true even if you have some tax credits to claim or reconcile.
But once your tax situation gets more complex, the free software becomes less viable. You may need to upgrade to a tax-filing software package that will cost you if any of these things apply to you:
- You want to itemize your deductions on your tax return rather than claim the standard deduction (something homeowners with mortgage interest may be particularly apt to do).
- You worked as a freelancer and have numerous business expenses to report and deduct.
- You own income properties and have rental income and expenses to reconcile.
- You own a small business.
- You had a lot of activity in your brokerage account, such as if you sold stocks or cryptocurrency.
- You contributed to a health savings account in 2021.
Another thing you should know is H&R Block's free software will not give you access to live help. If you need support filing your taxes, you'll need to prepare to upgrade to a different software.
But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll pay a fortune. H&R Block offers its Deluxe Online software starting at $29.99, and it provides many capabilities its free version doesn't.
Do you need to hire a tax professional?
Even if your taxes are too complex to use H&R Block's free software, you may be able to file a return yourself using paid software. But for complicated taxes, it could pay to hire a professional. While you'll spend more for an accountant or tax preparer, hiring one could help you avoid costly mistakes that cause you to lose out on deductions you were otherwise entitled to. If you own a small business, it especially pays to hire someone, even if you have a solid handle on your company's finances.
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