CITY, Mo. — This year’s tax wars between H&R
Block and TurboTax maker Intuit have erupted over their
competing software packages and filers’ access to
company is offering free software to consumers in the
wake of changes Intuit made to its software packages
that caught many customers off guard.
City-based H&R Block hopes it can capture some of
those surprised TurboTax users for its own.
was going to use TurboTax this year, but I said ‘No,
this isn’t going to happen,’" said Charles
Coody, a longtime TurboTax user in San Antonio, Texas.
"Why should I buy a Cadillac when I want to buy an
and lots of other TurboTax users, are unhappy about
changes in what comes with Intuit’s Basic, Deluxe,
Premier and other versions of TurboTax software this
year. Many are finding that they have to upgrade from
the TurboTax software package they had last year — and
pay more — to get the same tax help this year.
example, the Basic TurboTax package a year ago handled a
federal 1040 form and Schedule A — the one taxpayers
need to itemize their deductions instead of taking a
standard deduction. Schedule A helps those with enough
deductions, often interest payments on a home loan, to
lower their tax bills and boost their refunds.
year, TurboTax Basic doesn’t handle Schedule A. It
tells buyers they need to upgrade to the Deluxe package.
Intuit cut the price of Basic but users aren’t happy
with paying more to get Deluxe.
prior Deluxe users are finding that this year’s
version doesn’t handle other schedules — such as
Schedule C for reporting gains or losses on stock sales
— that it handled last year, requiring them to upgrade
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buying a Business Class seat and finding yourself in
Coach," said the headline on an unfavorable review
of TurboTax Deluxe posted on Amazon.com by
"Karl" of Bozeman, Mont.
me join the chorus of long-time customers who are
absolutely furious with Intuit for downgrading the
capabilities of TurboTax Deluxe so that it can no longer
do what it has done for many years …" Karl wrote
in his one-star review. "The product instead
informs me that I require Home & Business (which I
never needed before) and I must pay another $40."
of last week Wednesday, 89 percent of the Amazon reviews
had awarded only one star to TurboTax Deluxe. Some of
those poor reviews have triggered a reply from TurboTax
vice president Bob Meighan, or others from TurboTax on
know that some of our customers won’t be able to use
the same TurboTax product as last year," said
Meighan’s reply on Amazon to one customer. He told
this customer and others to buy the product they
normally do and call an 800 number to get the upgrade
five-star Amazon review posted by Everell Edwards said
he was upset by how Intuit handled the changes in Deluxe
but "well pleased" that the company gave him a
free upgrade to Home and Business. Similarly, another
customer posted that she got a free upgrade to Premier,
and she gave Deluxe five stars in her review.
spokeswoman Julie Miller explained the software changes
this year as matching the packages to the same help
available through TurboTax online service. In an email,
Miller said the new software line-up "creates a
more consistent experience across TurboTax products and
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said the company is working with customers "on a
case-by-case basis" to answer questions and settle
very aware and sensitive to the feedback from customers
and understand that changes can be difficult,"
Block hopes to capitalize on the difficulty that users
of TurboTax Basic and Deluxe software have experienced
packages haven’t changed in 20 years," said Jason
Houseworth, president of Block’s digital products.
Block is offering it own Basic and Deluxe software
packages free to TurboTax customers. It asks them to
proof of purchase such as a photo of a store receipt or
the download code from the Intuit software.
said Block employees noticed the TurboTax changes last
November. The counter offer of free Block software is a
response to the consumer reaction to those changes.
hope, of course, is that some of the 28 million
taxpayers who use TurboTax will join the 7 million who
are Block software customers.
you try it (for free), you’re going to pay me next
year," Houseworth said.
City resident Greg Meyer likes the offer but said his
first call will be to Intuit for an upgrade.
I don’t get it for free, I’ll consider my
options," Meyer said.
DiGuiesppe, a retired software test engineer in the
Philadelphia area, already sent H&R Block a copy of
his Costco receipt and plans to take his TurboTax Deluxe
back to the store for a refund.
was really happy with TurboTax," DiGuiesppe said.
"But you expect it to work exactly like it did last
use H&R Block’s software this year and, he said,
if it works better he’ll buy Block next year.