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Finance How to use H&R Block to file your taxes for free in 2018

H&R Block estimates its clients "prepared more than 7.4 million tax returns" online in 2016. I decided to check it out, to see how it works and report.

  • Published:
H&R Block is one of the most popular services for filing your taxes. play

H&R Block is one of the most popular services for filing your taxes.

(Lazarenko Svetlana/Shutterstock)

  • H&R Block offers a free online tax filing service for eligible taxpayers.
  • Tax season officially begins January 29, with a final deadline of April 17 this year.
  • The IRS recommends e-filing your taxes and requesting your refund via direct deposit.
  • Business Insider decided to try the free version of H&R Block's service.


The end of tax season is right around the corner.

Americans have until April 17 to file their 2017 taxes. While the new GOP tax plan signed by President Trump in December is the law of the land, the changes won't affect your tax return this year. The new tax brackets will only affect income earned starting January 1, 2018.

If your income was less than $66,000 in 2017, many online tax services offer the option to file for your federal taxes — and sometimes state taxes — for free. You can check your options using the IRS Free File Lookup tool.

The IRS also says the fastest way to get your tax refund is the method already used by most taxpayers: filing electronically and selecting direct deposit as the method for receiving your refund. Your refund should hit your bank account within three weeks of filing online. Often, you'll get your money even faster.

H&R Block is one such tax company offering free services to eligible taxpayers. Its website estimates its clients "prepared more than 7.4 million tax returns" using its digital services in 2016.

I decided to check it out to see how it works and report.

Keep in mind, I didn't actually file my taxes. I just went through the motions, to get a better feel for H&R Block.

Here's how it works:

When you get to H&R Block's homepage, you're presented with a few different options. I went for the online-only service that allows you to file for free.

When you get to H&R Block's homepage, you're presented with a few different options. I went for the online-only service that allows you to file for free. play

When you get to H&R Block's homepage, you're presented with a few different options. I went for the online-only service that allows you to file for free.

(H&R Block)


H&R Block won't make you set up an account right away, if you don't want to.

H&R Block won't make you set up an account right away, if you don't want to. play

H&R Block won't make you set up an account right away, if you don't want to.

(H&R Block)


I chose not to, for the purposes of this article. Plus, I'm not quite ready to file my taxes for real, just yet.

I chose not to, for the purposes of this article. Plus, I'm not quite ready to file my taxes for real, just yet. play

I chose not to, for the purposes of this article. Plus, I'm not quite ready to file my taxes for real, just yet.

(H&R Block)


You start by telling the software your first name.

You start by telling the software your first name. play

You start by telling the software your first name.

(H&R Block)


H&R Block also wants to figure out how you did your taxes last year.

H&R Block also wants to figure out how you did your taxes last year. play

H&R Block also wants to figure out how you did your taxes last year.

(H&R Block)


Then it comes time to give out some personal details, in order to figure out your filing status. You'll have to answer questions like whether or not you're married...

Then it comes time to give out some personal details, in order to figure out your filing status. You'll have to answer questions like whether or not you're married... play

Then it comes time to give out some personal details, in order to figure out your filing status. You'll have to answer questions like whether or not you're married...

(H&R Block)


... as well as your date of birth and social security number — which I'm not going to screenshot and post here, for obvious reasons. You can also note if you're filing for someone who's died.

... as well as your date of birth and social security number — which I'm not going to screenshot and post here, for obvious reasons. You can also note if you're filing for someone who's died. play

... as well as your date of birth and social security number — which I'm not going to screenshot and post here, for obvious reasons. You can also note if you're filing for someone who's died.

(H&R Block)


H&R Block will also ask you to clarify your residential status, whether or not you're a student, and if you were impacted by a hurricane in 2017.

H&R Block will also ask you to clarify your residential status, whether or not you're a student, and if you were impacted by a hurricane in 2017. play

H&R Block will also ask you to clarify your residential status, whether or not you're a student, and if you were impacted by a hurricane in 2017.

(H&R Block)


If you're new to filing taxes, H&R Block provides lots of explanations and examples beneath every question. So there's not a lot of room for confusion.

If you're new to filing taxes, H&R Block provides lots of explanations and examples beneath every question. So there's not a lot of room for confusion. play

If you're new to filing taxes, H&R Block provides lots of explanations and examples beneath every question. So there's not a lot of room for confusion.

(H&R Block)


Next, it's time to break out your W-2 form, if you have one. I dropped in a PDF version of my old W-2, and it calculated my federal refund and automatically uploaded all the details.

Next, it's time to break out your W-2 form, if you have one. I dropped in a PDF version of my old W-2, and it calculated my federal refund and automatically uploaded all the details. play

Next, it's time to break out your W-2 form, if you have one. I dropped in a PDF version of my old W-2, and it calculated my federal refund and automatically uploaded all the details.

(H&R Block)


You're given a chance to review everything in your W-2, of course.

You're given a chance to review everything in your W-2, of course. play

You're given a chance to review everything in your W-2, of course.

(H&R Block)


You're also asked to disclose whether you have other sources of income...

You're also asked to disclose whether you have other sources of income... play

You're also asked to disclose whether you have other sources of income...

(H&R Block)


... as well as whether you had health insurance...

... as well as whether you had health insurance... play

... as well as whether you had health insurance...

(H&R Block)


... not to mention foreign financial holdings or student loan interest.

... not to mention foreign financial holdings or student loan interest. play

... not to mention foreign financial holdings or student loan interest.

(H&R Block)


You've got to give H&R Block your contact information as well.

You've got to give H&R Block your contact information as well. play

You've got to give H&R Block your contact information as well.

(H&R Block)


All in all, I found H&R Block's free tax service straightforward and easy to use. I have no complaints about my experience — although I didn't get around to entering any state tax. And, of course, I didn't pull the trigger and file.

All in all, I found H&R Block's free tax service straightforward and easy to use. I have no complaints about my experience — although I didn't get around to entering any state tax. And, of course, I didn't pull the trigger and file. play

All in all, I found H&R Block's free tax service straightforward and easy to use. I have no complaints about my experience — although I didn't get around to entering any state tax. And, of course, I didn't pull the trigger and file.

(H&R Block)