Taxpayers with simple returns have had lots of choices when it comes to preparing and filing their taxes online, including free options. But you get what you pay for, generally speaking, and those whose taxes require a bit more work have been forced into more-traditional (and expensive) options such as a visit to the offices of a professional tax preparation service or expensive, complex tax software that sometimes still involves CPAs and service fees. H&R Block's online service, H&R Block At Home, offers several options for taxpayers, including a free service. The Deluxe service costs $49.95 (it was discounted when we visited the site) and is suitable for homeowners and investors. The Free and Basic services include one free federal e-file, and adds the ability to import your W2 and 1099 forms, assistance with mortgage and real estate taxes, and integrated H&R Block DeductionPro for donations. Like H&R Block At Home's other tax prep services, you can start using the Deluxe service for free to see if it's what you need without submitting any actual tax data. That's what we did.
With an up-to-date storefront-style layout, H&R Block At Home's main site has a familiar look and feel that simplifies the process of choosing a package. If you need help, the main page has plenty, including a sidebar offering links to just the sort of resources you'd expect an outfit with as much experience as H&R Block to bring to the table. The site seems to render better in IE or Chrome than Firefox, but that's our only comment -- we can't call it a "gripe." If you already have an account with H&R Block At Home, you simply need to sign in and start using the step-by-step process, but you can create a new account or (like us) simply tour the proceedings.
As with the Basic service, we were impressed with the resources the Deluxe service offers. Simply put, if you're a homeowner or have taxable income from small investments, H&R Block At Home's Deluxe service should be on your short list of online options.