Home business owners might be getting a nasty surprise from TurboTax this year, and H&R Block is moving to offer free tax prep software to those customers.
***UPDATE: Since this was published, TurboTax has reversed its changes. You can read about it on Forbes.***
I’ve long been associated with H&R Block, in terms of writing for the Block Talk blog. My own taxes are done by an accountant with a local accounting firm, but I generally have good feelings about H&R Block, since my mom had a good experience working for the company as a bookkeeper years ago, and since I work closely with the H&R Block team. My warm fuzzies about the company only increased recently when I heard about the company’s response to recent changes coming from TurboTax for 2015.
Free Tax Prep Software from H&R Block
Many home business owners use a Schedule C form to report their business income and expenses. TurboTax Deluxe used to be enough for these business owners, but now the company no longer offers the Schedule C with TurboTax Deluxe. Instead, you have to upgrade to get a version with a Schedule C. For many home business owners, an upgrade all the way to Home and Business is probably necessary, since merely upgrading to Premier only offers limited Schedule C functionality in terms of deduction amounts. Many TurboTax customers are not happy about this requirement, since they have been used to accessing Schedule C with the Deluxe version.
For TurboTax customers who are upset about this change, H&R Block is offering a free version of their own software to disappointed TurboTax customers.
“By switching to H&R Block’s Deluxe product, an individual with a Schedule C will pay $44.95 MSRP, or get it free with this offer,” says Heather Watts, H&R Block’s Vice President of Digital Tax Products. “Meanwhile, that same individual would need to purchase TurboTax Home and Business, a $99.99 MSRP.”
What H&R Block proposes is to allow TurboTax customers to get a free copy of H&R Block’s own Deluxe tax prep software.
If you want to get your free tax prep software, if you have purchased TurboTax Basic or Deluxe, email the following information to SwitchToBlock@hrblock.com:
- Name, address, and phone number
- Type of operating system you use (Windows or Mac)
- A photo, scan, or email showing proof of your purchase of TurboTax Basic or Deluxe
When this is done, H&R Block will send a link for a free download of H&R Block Deluxe + State. It’s even possible for the H&R Block software to import last year’s tax return from your TurboTax if that’s what you used last year so you can get started.
It’s an interesting offer, and one that includes the Basic version as well, as Watts explains: “Thirty percent of do-it-yourselfers file a Schedule A, which means if these filers chose the TurboTax Basic product in the past, they will now have to buy Turbo Tax Deluxe 2014.”
As you can see, it’s not just an issue for home business owners filing Schedule C forms. H&R Block claims that more than 50 percent of TurboTax Basic or Deluxe users may have to upgrade, because the lack of Schedules A, C, D, or E in currently-used products.
If you have received an unpleasant surprise from TurboTax, this might be worth checking into. This free tax prep software offer is only available via email, and not through H&R Block’s web site.