H&R Block At Home 2012 is the flagship desktop application of the H&R Block tax universe. An easy-to-use application that makes filing your taxes a snap, At Home 2012 also offers personalized assistance from H&R Block tax professionals and the option to take your return to a local H&R Block office to seal the deal. The downside is that the app often requires repetitive data entry and the interview process sometimes relies too much on checking the right boxes.
Like every application of this type, At Home 2012 attempts to make filling out forms and filing your taxes an simple and pain free as possible. To that end, you can import data from your prior year’s taxes whether your return was created using last year’s version of At Home or TurboTax. At Home 2012 can also import your personal financial data from any application as long is it supports the Tax Exchange Format used by applications such as Quicken and Microsoft Money.
Once imported you’ll need to double check your data to make sure it’s accurate and then At Home 2012 will walk you through a standard interview process to collect your 2012 income and deduction information. While still very good, H&R Block’s federal interview process does not seem as refined as TurboTax’s interview process. Where TurboTax asks you a series of individual questions and helps walk you through the process of choosing and filling out the proper forms, At Home 2012 presents you with screens full of checkboxes, asking you to “Choose all that apply.” The end result is the same, but the process leaves you feeling less like you were guided and more like you’re guessing what you need to do. This feeling increased as soon as I started working on my state return.
At Home 2012’s state interview was far less than it could or should have been. Having entered or imported information into my federal return, I expected that all this info would be imported into the state form. But I was wrong. When it came time to work on college tuition information for my daughter—info I’d entered in the Federal return—the state questionnaire was unaware that I’d already entered this information. My daughter’s Social Security number, college name, and employer ID number (EIN) all needed to be entered again, as did her tuition information. Inattention to small details like these undermined any sense that the application was paying attention to other more important details.
One benefit that At Home 2012 does offer is free access to tax professionals. Most of this information is available by way of a database of tax questions answered by H&R Block’s professional tax advisors, but if you can’t find an answer to your questions in the database you have the option of sending an email or initiating a live chat session, each of which is offered as a free service.
H&R Block At Home 2012 is good, but, unfortunately, it is not all that it could be. More attention to basic detail and an interview process that feels less like a day at the DMV and more like a real conversation would go a long way toward making this a terrific tax app.