Tax Software and the User Experience

It’s tax season, and like millions of Americans, I filed my taxes online using a tax preparation website. I’ve used Turbo Tax for the past several years, but this year I was intrigued by H&R Block’s More Zero offering that allows you to file an itemized return for free, so I decided to give it a go. I quickly noticed that the platforms offer a vastly different user experience.  


The most glaring difference between the two was in the ease of itemizing deductions.

For example, when listing items donated to a charitable organization such as Goodwill or Salvation Army, Turbo Tax only requires the user to enter the organization’s information once, and allows them to simply list out each item and quantity donated at one time. It also has a tool that estimates the cash value of each item donated, saving the user the time and frustration of looking it up and estimating themselves.


H&R Block, on the other hand, requires the user to re-enter the organization’s name and address for each individual donation, even if all the items were donated on the same day at the same time. The user must also calculate the value of the donated items themselves and select from a menu where each calculation came from. This quickly turned into a tedious and frustrating process, which is not something you want to experience when doing something as important as filing your taxes.


To be fair, I was able to complete my return with H&R Block and it was completely free, just as they advertised. Their site works and the user can ultimately accomplish their task, but it felt like the user interface wasn't designed with the customer's needs in mind.


So which is better? I'm not here to give an endorsement of one site or another. I appreciated being able to file my taxes for free this year; however, there is clear value in the price that Turbo Tax charges, and that value lies in its ease of use.


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Posted by Stewart

Stewart is passionate about all things research. Designing studies, conducting UX labs and IDIs, moderating online focus groups and analyzing data - Stew does it all. When not researching, you can find him cycling, hiking or hanging out with his dog.