H& r Block Tax Identity Shield Helps Protect Tax Identities
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 14, 2018 — As part of National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month, H& R Block encourages consumers to guard their tax identity. Three ways they can do this include protecting their personal information, being aware of phishing and other scams, and filing their tax returns early in the season with a reputable preparer. Additionally, eligible H& R Block clients can purchase Tax Identity Shield®.
By becoming a Tax Identity Shield® member when they complete their 2018 tax return, members can have a sense of security in knowing they have taken extra precautions against tax identity fraud, which isnt the focus of similar products, said Jeremy Morris, program director at H& R Block.
New for tax season 2019, Tax Identity Shield® monitoring is enhanced to include SSN alerts, which provide members a report of all the names and addresses associated with their Social Security number in credit header data, and they will receive monthly alerts if new activity is detected. One reason this matters: a possible consequence of a Social Security number being stolen and used to file a fraudulent return could delay the victims tax refund up to six months.
Tax Identity Shield® is available to all clients who work with a tax professional in an H& R Block office. It also can be added to DIY online products, and desktop software products downloaded from hrblock.com.
Should Anyone Consider Audit Protection
If youve got simple taxes like a W-2 job, and a few 1099-INT forms, audit protection isnt worth anything. On the other hand, people who take advantage of every tax advantaged account, have multiple businesses, and invest in MLPs will have tons of records.
Even if you keep great records, you may need help explaining your unique situation to the IRS.
Im wary of recommending audit protection to most people. I think when most people understand what audit protection is, they wont opt for it. If you can get audit protection for free , you could make argue for it.
Personally, I put my extra money towards bookkeeping software. I think thats the better use of the dollar. However, the peace of mind factor may ultimately push you towards buying audit protection. In that case, I recommend being as smart as possible. Use FreeTaxUSA or H& R Block software to get the most protection for the least cost.
Have you ever paid for audit protection when filing taxes?
How Much Does Audit Protection Cost
This guarantee is the primary reason that people who are paying H& R Block may want to buy the software rather than file online.
If youve got a basic filing situation, the free audit support from H& R Block shouldnt be a compelling reason to pay more. Online filers at H& R Block cannot get in-person audit support, but you can get help via email or phone.
At TurboTax, you have to pay $60 to upgrade to Max protect and defend which is the audit program. To me, this is a high price to pay for a minimal service guarantee.
What Others Are Saying
TaxAct has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau , the highest rating based on a scale from A+ to F. However, the company has received 176 complaints in the past three years through the BBB with 60 complaints closed in the last 12 months. It has an average rating of 1.1 out of 5 based on 39 customer reviews.
Most common complaints involved high prices and fees for e-filing and uncertainty as to the final bill until being locked in. Other users had issues with returns not being filed, incomplete returns, and errors that prevented them from completing their online tax filing.
Reviews on Trustpilot echoed more of the same complaints with errors, filing problems, and high fees. There were only seven reviews but 71 percent gave a rating of 1 out of 5.
On the other hand, the TaxAct app in the Apple Store has 5,900 ratings and reviews with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. Users liked the easy-to-use interface that is simple to use and fast. Some users reported glitches and crashes with the mobile version.
Is H& r Block Tax Identity Shield Worth It
There is no shortage of add-ons at H& R Block: Tax Identity Shield : H& R Block scans the dark web for your information and notifies you of any changes regarding your Social Security number. They assist you after someone steals your identity. Its worth it if you dont already have this through another provider.
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Tax Software: The Basics Work But Peace Of Mind Costs Extra
- Read in app
Trying out this years tax-preparation software was like wandering through a bazaar: Everybody was trying to sell me something I suspected I didnt need.
TurboTax pressed me to buy its MAX benefits, promising total peace of mind. H& R Block urged an upgrade to Best of Both, so one of its tax professionals could review my return. And TaxAct coaxed me with its Protection Plus audit assistance. These add-ons, of course, cost extra.
Maybe the tax software companies are trying to distinguish themselves with something besides their return-preparation programs because, though the three offerings arent interchangeable, theyre not different enough to recommend one over the others for a straightforward return.
All three will carry you through a return that includes wages, mortgage interest and real estate taxes, a few investment accounts, charitable gifts and even the occasional oddity like the purchase of an electric car or solar panels. In a world of personal drones and driverless cars, it has been a long time since tax software has seemed revolutionary, though it does still ease a tedious task.
The real enticement here, of course, is the audit help. Few things in life are as dreaded as the prospect of arm-wrestling with the I.R.S.
Jennifer L. Blouin, an accounting professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, cautioned that many do-it-yourself filers may not need the protection.
How Can I Contact The Irs About My Child Tax Credit Questions
You may have questions about your child tax credit eligibility, a missing check or changes to your information. Your first thought may be to contact the IRS, but there’s limited live assistance due to the tax return backlog, delayed stimulus checks and unemployment tax refunds. The IRS has not announced a separate phone number for child tax credit questions, but the main number for tax-related questions is 800-829-1040.
Instead of calling, it may be faster to check the IRS website for answers to your questions. And remember that the Update Portal can help with eligibility, payment history and updating your personal information online.
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What Happens If Someone Steals Your Tax Refund
If someone uses your personal information to file a tax return in your name, you typically won’t know until you try to file yourself or receive some form of communication from the IRS.
Fortunately, tax identity theft isn’t as common as it used to be. Between 2015 and 2017, reports of fraudulent tax returns from identity theft victims dropped by 65% due to efforts by the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax community, according to the IRS.
But while the IRS and other agencies are getting better at foiling tax identity theft, there were still 242,000 reported cases in 2017, according to the IRS, which means you’re still at risk. Here are some warning signs that could indicate a fraudulent tax return:
- You get a letter from the IRS about a suspicious tax return, and you haven’t filed one yet.
- Your e-filed tax return is rejected because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You get a tax transcript in the mail that you didn’t request.
- You get a notice from the IRS that an online account has been created in your name or your existing account has been accessed or disabled, and you haven’t taken these actions.
- You get a notice from the IRS that you owe additional tax, your refund is offset or collection actions are taken against you regarding a tax year for which you didn’t file.
- IRS records show you received income from an employer you don’t recognize and for whom you didn’t work.
Cost Of Diy Options And What They Cover
- Free Online: $0. Supports W-2 income, unemployment income, interest and dividend income, retirement distributions, the student loan interest deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit . You can’t itemize deductions, but that’s typical of a free version. Notably, H& R Block’s free version includes student deductions, while TurboTax’s does not.
- Deluxe Online: $49.99. Everything the free version includes, plus the mortgage interest deduction and health savings accounts, and you can itemize.
- Premium Online: $69.99. Supports everything in the Deluxe version, plus rental property income and freelance/contractor income below $5,000. You can also import mileage and other expenses from common tracking apps.
- Self-Employed Online: $109.99. The highest-tier online package offered by H& R Block. It’s ideal for self-employed people, including small business owners, partners, and contractors who earned more than $5,000.
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When To Request A Payment Trace
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|Check mailed to a foreign address||9 weeks|
At first glance, the steps to request a payment trace can look daunting. You’ll need to print and mail the completed Form 3911 from the IRS to start tracing your child tax credit payment. If you need help completing the form, contact your local tax consultant. Before you do, there are a few pointers to keep in mind.
- An IRS representative told CNET that there isn’t an abbreviation or code to include in the “Inquiry” field. You’ll need to be as specific as possible about what payment you’d like to track. Make sure to specify that you’re looking to trace a child tax credit check and the month the payment was disbursed.
- If you filed taxes jointly, both parents will need to sign the form to start the payment trace process.
- Be sure to check whether or not your money was sent via direct deposit or check. If your banking information is listed on the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, we recommend choosing the direct deposit box.
- You’ll need to mail the form where you would usually send a paper tax return in your area. The IRS has a list of addresses and fax numbers to help.
- You should not request a payment trace to determine your eligibility or to confirm your child tax credit amount.
- It could take up to 60 days to receive a response.
Taxact Customer Service And Support
TaxAct offers several customer service and support options to help users find answers and get guidance when filing a tax return. These include:
- Help topics TaxActs searchable online database offers answers to questions you may have about the software, the mobile app, or your taxes.
- Technical support If you cant find the answer to a technical issue, you can contact TaxActs free tech support via email or phone.
- Pro help TaxAct now offers access to tax pros if you purchase the Xpert Help service option. This gives you the option to get live, unlimited on-screen help from a tax expert.
Xpert Help support is now available. Get real-time, one-on-one tax support from a CPA or other tax experts to help you navigate your individual tax situation. Call during regular business hours or schedule a call .
Support hours vary depending on the time of year, with increased access between January and April. Tax season hours offer support Monday Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CST Saturday 9 a.m. 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. 5 p.m. The rest of the year, with a few exceptions, customer support hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Customer Service representatives can be reached by email or phone:
- Phone: 373 3600
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Turbotax Vs H& r Block: Customer Support
What TurboTax Offers
TurboTaxs paid versions offer real-time access to tax professionals through its SmartLook platform. You can speak directly to a tax assistant through one-way video via the TurboTax mobile app or your software. Free versions have access to an online community through the TurboTax platform, which can answer the most common tax questions quickly. TurboTaxs support really shines is their TurboTax Live package, which includes a personal review from a CPA or enrolled agent before you file to make sure that youve taken advantage of every possible deduction and credit as well as ensuring that your return doesnt contain any costly mistakes. As its name suggests, TurboTax Live also includes an unlimited live connection to tax experts, who will even file and sign your returns for you if you really want to take a hands-off approach. While TurboTax Live is significantly more expensive than TurboTaxs lower tax packages, you may find the extra layer of support comforting, especially if youve been audited in the past.
What H& R Block Offers
If you prefer online video and chat support for your return, TurboTax is most likely the best choice for you. If the options of both in-person support and online help is a must-have, H& R Block Taxs brick and mortar and Ask a Tax Pro resources can provide peace of mind.
Some First Time Filers
H& R Block online tax filing software is one of the best in the business for first time filers. Plus, plenty of first-time filers will qualify for H& R Block More Zero, a completely free filing service. If youre nervous that youre filing incorrectly, we dont recommend upgrading to Tax Pro Review right away. Instead, complete your filing in the software and evaluate your feelings then. Are you confident that you didnt miss anything? Then go ahead and file. On the other hand, if you want a professional to review it, go ahead and upgrade. Tax Pro Review from H& R Block costs $49.99-$89.99, and its a worthwhile expense if it will give you confidence to file on your own for the first time.
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Keep An Eye On Your Credit Score And Reports
If someone has enough of your personal information to file a tax return in your name, they also could be opening fraudulent credit accounts with your data. Check your credit score regularly in case there’s a sudden, unexplained drop. If this happens, it could be a sign that you’re a victim of identity theft.
Also, get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to look for fraudulent accounts. If you find something, your Social Security number could be compromised.
Is It Worth Your Time
Yes. H& R Blocks tax preparation is user-friendly. The online software not only presents questions in small chunks but also gives clarity as to what information you need. It also gives you peace of mind with their guarantees when youre about to finalize your taxes.
Should you decide to self-prepare your taxes, always do your research. H& R Block gives you all the options, but you need to know whats required.
For example, they give you the option to claim depreciation on your rental property, but they dont make it mandatory. It would be so easy to overlook this if youve been sitting at a computer staring at tax nonsense, so go in with a game plan.
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Available Packages And List Prices
This package does it all for small-business owners, freelancers and independent contractors. It also imports Uber driver tax information.
One note about prices: Providers frequently change them. Well keep updating this review, but you can verify the latest price by clicking through to H& R Blocks site. H& R Block also offers desktop software, where your return doesn’t reside in the cloud, but its not part of our review.
When Should I File A Payment Trace For My Missing Money
The IRS also offers a payment trace as a way to find your funds, including from missing stimulus checks. You can request a trace — which means filing an inquiry into the location of your IRS money — by mailing or faxing Form 3911 to the tax agency. Even if the IRS says you’re ineligible for advance payments, it’s best to submit a payment trace in case there’s a portal error.
Your payment will be traceable if it has been at least five days since the deposit date and the bank hasn’t received the money, four weeks since the check was mailed or six weeks if it was mailed to a forwarded address listed by USPS. If the check was mailed to a foreign address, you can ask for a payment trace after nine weeks.
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Q: What If I Use An Ip Pin Incorrectly On My Tax Return
A3: The IP PIN acts as an authentication number to validate the correct owner of the Social Security number or ITIN listed on your tax return.
- If an IP PIN isn’t entered correctly, we’ll reject the return and you’ll need to enter the correct IP PIN to e-file it again.
- If you have an IP PIN, you’re the primary and/or secondary taxpayer, and you fail to enter your IP PIN correctly, your return will take longer to process while we validate the information.