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Ramsey SmartTax vs. H&R Block

The days of filling out tax forms by hand and praying they don’t get lost in the mail are a lot like 70s and 80s bands who refuse to quit touring—still going, though no one really knows why.

Maybe it’s because there are still a few die-hard fans of both who refuse to let go. The IRS still accepts paper returns and people still pay to see what’s left of KISS and Aerosmith on stage. Yes, the glory days of big hair, leather pants, and top-tier electric guitar solos are, sadly, long gone.

And filing your taxes the old-fashioned way? It’s almost unheard of now. In fact, in 2023, 95% of people filed their taxes electronically through either self-filing software or a tax pro.1 And for good reason! It’s quick and convenient and doesn’t involve snail mail.

You’ll want to get the most out of your tax software, but with several e-filing providers available, who should you choose?

Let’s take a look at Ramsey SmartTax versus H&R Block so you can make the best decision for your tax situation.

How to Choose an E-File Service

When making big financial decisions, we’re all about using a professional. It’s smart to get advice from an expert. But there are also times when filing your taxes with online software is the way to go.

If you’ve got multiple income sources, own your own business, or just generally have a more complicated tax return, it’s best to skip the DIY e-file route and head straight to a trusted tax professional.

If you have a simpler tax situation, look for a service with software that’s easy to learn and use, fits the budget, and will give you peace of mind that your tax return has been completed correctly. Plus, keep an eye out for service providers that have hidden fees and ridiculous add-ons—not to mention the ones that try to sell you stuff you don’t need (we’re looking at you, credit cards and refund advance loans).

What Is Ramsey SmartTax?

Ramsey SmartTax is a tax software program that’s designed to be accurate and reliable. It’s an alternative to H&R Block, TurboTax, and other popular tax software that is less interested in helping you along your entire financial journey and more focused on additional fees, add-ons, and debt-based product partnerships (have we mentioned credit cards and refund advance loans?).

Ramsey SmartTax is the only e-file tax return software that Dave Ramsey recommends, and it’s helped thousands of people file their state and federal taxes accurately and securely. Whether you’re a college student filing taxes for the first time, or you’re shopping around for new software, getting started with Ramsey SmartTax is an easy, relatively quick process.

Powered by TaxSlayer, Ramsey SmartTax stands out from other software by giving you access to all major federal forms and deductions without any upcharges.

What Is H&R Block?

H&R Block is a tax prep company that offers online tax software to those looking to self-file. And they also have in-person support at their office locations scattered across the U.S. There, you can ask one of their “Block Advisors,” aka tax pros, a few questions about your return or drop off all your tax forms and let them take care of the rest (for a price, of course).

With their tax software, H&R Block delivers a user experience that’s pretty simple and easy to navigate. They avoid all the heady tax jargon and offer step-by-step guidance in all their product versions, which is great for first-time filers and people with simple returns.

Don’t settle for tax software with hidden fees or agendas. Use one that’s on your side—Ramsey SmartTax.

But here’s the nitty-gritty. H&R Block has joined a number of other tax software programs (including TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt) that are pushing refund advance loans on unsuspecting filers.

And it sounds like a great deal! Why wait for Uncle Sam to send you your refund when you can get a loan for up to $3,500 now and just pay it back when you get your refund?2  

But that’s kind of the point. It only sounds like a great idea. The reality is, these refund advance loans come with hidden fee landmines scattered all throughout the fine print. Not to mention—it’s debt! And folks, we want you to win with your money, and it’s impossible to win when you take on debt (like a loan on your freakin’ tax refund) willy-nilly.

We’ll discuss more details of H&R Block’s loan in just a minute, but you can probably already tell we aren’t fans of tax software that tries to sell you on a stupid loan. That’s one of the reasons we love Ramsey SmartTax—no ads trying to push debt on you when all you want to do is file your taxes. But that’s not where the differences end. So here we go: Ramsey SmartTax versus H&R Block.

5 Differences Between Ramsey SmartTax and H&R Block

When it comes to choosing the right tax software, there are a few things you need to look for.

Ease of Use

smarttax vs hrblock ease of use

Both Ramsey SmartTax and H&R Block deliver a user experience that makes e-filing a lot easier than going the old-fashioned paper return route. They both offer step-by-step guidance that’s simple to navigate, whether you’ve used tax software for years or you’re a first-timer.

When it’s time to enter all the information from your W-2, 1099 forms, and other tax forms, each software service gives you easy instructions on where to find that information and automatically does all the calculating for you. Sweet!

Both show you how far along in the filing process you are at all times and let you save your progress if you need to step away for a coffee run and come back later. And with Ramsey SmartTax, there are only three steps—prep, save, and e-file—that stand between you and having your taxes done! Plus, you can file anytime, anywhere, on your own schedule.


smarttax vs hrblock reliability

H&R Block started as a tax preparation service in 1955, and when online tax software became a thing in the early 1990s, they quickly jumped on the bandwagon. 

They’ve been in the tax prep business so long that they’ve become a household name, but just because H&R Block is well-known doesn’t mean they’re the most reliable option when it comes to e-filing software. They’ll file your taxes for you, but you’re basically just a tax ID number they can market additional debt products to for profit.

Ramsey SmartTax is powered by TaxSlayer, one of the most trusted names in the tax return game for more than 50 years. Besides—this is Ramsey SmartTax. That means you’re in the hands of people who care about you and your money goals.

With Ramsey SmartTax, your information won’t be used to push debt on you, and if you have questions along the way, the Federal Classic version has built-in support—just pick up the phone or send an email. No additional fees or bumping you up to a different price tier just because you have a question. And if you’d like to skip the line for phone and email support or use live chat, you can upgrade to Ramsey SmartTax Federal Premium for just $20 more.

Affordability and Price Transparency

smarttax vs hrblock affordability and price transparency

H&R Block offers four different versions of their tax software, including a Free Online version. We love anything that’s free, but H&R Block’s freebie version is geared toward a pretty limited set of folks with simple tax situations. For example, you can file for $0 if you have a W-2 or Form 1040, plan to take the standard deduction, and want to claim the child tax credit. While that might be a lot of people, it’s probably not most people.

If your tax situation disqualifies you from H&R Block’s freebie version, you’ll be paying anywhere from $55 (for the Deluxe tier) to $115 (for the Self-Employed tier) to file your Federal return. Plus another $37 for each state return.3  

Here are some tax scenarios that will disqualify you from H&R Block’s free version:

  • Itemizing your deductions
  • Reporting contract, freelancing, or other self-employed income
  • Deducting real estate taxes and home interest mortgage
  • Deducting Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions
  • Deducting small business expenses
  • Reporting stocks, bonds, and other investment income
  • Wanting live tax expert support

If any of these describe your tax situation, you could end up paying $55, $85, or even $115, and you might not be able to tell for sure until you get started. And who knows if or when you’ll get bumped up to the next price plan. Yikes!

Ramsey SmartTax, on the other hand, keeps things simple and straightforward when it comes to pricing. There are only two different versions of Ramsey SmartTax: Federal Classic for $34.95 and Federal Premium for $54.95. Need to file a state return? No problem—it’s $39.95 no matter which version of Ramsey SmartTax you use. That’s it. Period.

Yep, price transparency is one of the things we love about Ramsey SmartTax. Its pricing tiers and features are streamlined—no hidden fees or getting bumped up to another price point because your tax situation is a little more complex.

See, the Federal Classic version accommodates all major income types, including self-employed income and contract work. And you also get access to all major tax credits, deductions and tax forms.

Need to report your side hustle income? No problem. Federal Classic can handle it. Started your first small business during the tax year? You can deduct those expenses with the Federal Classic version. No need to pay more. Own a home and want to deduct mortgage interest? You get the idea.

And with Ramsey SmartTax’s Federal Premium version (only $20 more), you get all the features of Federal Classic, plus:

  • Skip the line for tech support via phone and email, or live chat!
  • Free financial coaching session after you file (a $200+ value)
  • 3 months of free identity theft protection

Now, if you’re looking for ways to be more intentional with your finances in 2024, Ramsey SmartTax is also offering a Federal Premium + EveryDollar version, which gives you access to the premium version of EveryDollar for one year. EveryDollar is Ramsey’s easy-to-use budgeting app. It’s helped thousands of people take control of their money by helping them create a monthly zero-based budget.

Protecting Your Personal Information

smarttax vs hrblock protecting personal information

Ask anyone who’s had to deal with identity theft, scammers, or fraudsters online and they’ll tell you—it’s serious stuff. And you want a tax software that takes protecting your personal information seriously.

H&R Block protects your personal info like any other financial institution to keep it from being stolen or compromised. But they have no problem using your info to sell debt-based products or services to you. One of H&R Block’s not-so-secret moneymakers includes using its customers’ data—from the same people trusting them with their most sensitive and private financial information—to market refund advance loans and debit cards with a bunch of hidden fees. Getting people into debt is part of their business model!

The last thing you want to do when you’re filing taxes is create more debt for yourself. But that’s exactly what giving your personal info to H&R Block can lead to. Do yourself a favor and go with software like Ramsey SmartTax—software you know will never try to profit off your personal information by selling you loans or other debt products. And don’t forget that Ramsey SmartTax’s Federal Premium version includes 3 months of free identity theft protection. That’s a sweet deal!

H&R Block’s Refund Advance Loan

We briefly mentioned H&R Block’s refund advance loan already, but it’s worth circling back around and looking at it in more detail.

Here’s the thing: H&R Block’s refund advance loan isn’t some freebie perk that H&R Block gives as a “thank you for filing with us” to their filers. Read the fine print. There’s no cost to take out the loan. But when you pay it back out of your tax refund, it’s considered a separate service. And surprise, surprise—that’s when you get hit with those hidden fees.4

H&R Block has two ways you can get paid the advance loan amount you qualify for. One of them is with a prepaid debit card with no annual fees. H&R Block calls it the Emerald Prepaid Mastercard. Again, sounds great, right? At least it’s not a credit card. But take another look at the fine print and you’ll see a bunch of hidden fees you’ll pay when you actually start using that debit card—to reload cash and to take a withdrawal.5  

And get this—you’ll be charged a $4.95 fee each month after you haven’t used your card for 60 days. Yep, you read that correctly! You’ll be charged for not using your debit card.6 That’s what we call crazy-land, folks.

When it comes to these refund advance loans H&R Block, TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt are pushing, and the credit and debit cards that come with them, run away! Don’t even consider them as an option. They’re traps disguised as doing you the favor of getting your tax refund early. Don’t fall for it!  

Ramsey SmartTax vs. H&R Block: Which Is Right for You?

Here’s the bottom line: We want you to win with money—short-term with your taxes, and long-term with your financial goals. And it’s impossible to win with money when you take on debt, even if it’s just a tax refund advance loan.

When you e-file with Ramsey SmartTax, you know you’re getting a product that won’t try to sell you debt. You won’t have to worry about hidden fees or getting bumped up to a new price tier just because you have a few more tax forms.

Ramsey SmartTax is designed with your financial well-being in mind, and that makes it a great option for self-filing with confidence and peace of mind.


Next Steps

  1. Still on the fence about self-filing versus working with a tax pro? See what we recommend.
  2. Use our Tax Prep Checklist to help you get all those forms and paperwork organized before you file your taxes.
  3. Ready to file? Get started with Ramsey SmartTax! Or if you need the guidance of a tax expert, connect with a RamseyTrusted tax pro. They can answer any questions you have and take some of the tax stress off your shoulders.
Check out Ramsey SmartTax

Federal Classic Includes:


  • All major income types and federal forms

  • Prepare, print and e-file

  • Phone and email support

  • 1 year of audit assistance

Get Started With Ramsey SmartTax

Federal Premium Includes:

Everything in Classic plus:

  • Live chat

  • Priority phone and email help

  • Free financial coaching session

  • 3 years of audit assistance

Get Started With Ramsey SmartTax

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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