H&R Block Tax Course

by Mr. Cheap

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Some time ago I posted that I was going to take H&R Block’s tax course (Telly recommended against it). I signed up, paid my $300 fee, went to the first class, and dropped out afterwards.

Telly’s warning was 100% on target. Henceforth, I intend to do anything Mike *OR* Telly tell me to. My one fear is that they’ll give me conflicting instructions…

The course focused on VERY SLOW learners. When he was “teaching us” how to fill out the name and address portion of the tax form, the instructions said to put “YOUR CITY and YOUR PROVINCE in the blanks”. Pretty self-explanatory, right? He told us, LITERALLY 5 or 6 times “now, here you’re going to put Toronto, or Mississauga, or whatever your city is in the blank, don’t write your city!”. The second time he said it, I looked at him and smiled (I assumed he was joking), he gave me an encouraging grin and a nod back, which clearly said “people have made this mistake before”.

If you thinking about buying tax preparation software then consider software programs such as TurboTax or TurboTax Canada (formerly QuickTax).

This course also didn’t cover business income or income from rental properties, two areas that I was very interested in learning about. In the end I figured I could spend 66 hour and teach myself more than I’d learn at the slow pace in the class.

Luckily, they give very generous refunds near the beginning of the course (I think I got 80% of my fee returned to me). Unless you’re a fairly slow learner, or you want to work for H&R Block (I think that’s why a lot of people take the course), I’d just buy some books at Chapters and read through them for 6 hours every week.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheFinancialBlogger

Mr. Cheap,
I once read an article comparing the same couple doing giving their tax reports to 10 different H&R Block. Well they got 10 different tax returns!

That shows that even after the slow class, people are still incompetent!

2 FourPillars

Wow, what a waste of time!

Good thing you got out quickly.

Mike

3 Traciatim

Thanks for the review. I was actually contemplating taking that course so I could help some people at work by showing them how to file their taxes themselves. Maybe I’ll just show them anyway without the course, someone who works for an employer and has 1 T4 is hardly a complicated return anyway.

4 telly

Hmmm…it worked out this time, but I highly recommend you DON’T do everything I tell you to. Stick with Mike. ;)

No offense to H&R fans out there but it seemed rather obvious to me that you already knew more than what you would learn in that course. I find I learn a lot from both books and various finance or tax forums.

I highly recommend “Essential Tax Facts” or anything by Evelyn Jacks.

5 Gates VP

I’ve done my own taxes going on almost 9 times now (still a youngster), but it’s never been particularly difficult or harrowing. All things considered, it’s pretty darn simple. If their $300 course doesn’t include the advanced stuff, then you can figure it out quicker than the guy in class can explain it to you.

I did my taxes by myself when I turned 18. There wasn’t much to it then, there isn’t much to it now (I’ll likely be handling the fiancé’s too).

I guess the problem Cheap has, in taxes, as in life, is that he’s just too darn smart. That we should all be so cursed :P

6 Mr. Cheap

FB: That’s pretty scary!

Traciatim: Glad I could warn you off ;-)

telly & mike: One of you was *supposed* to say “don’t listen to the other one” then my head would have exploded. You missed your chance. I’ll have a look at “Essential Tax Facts”, thanks!

Gates: *blush*. I’m always convinced I don’t know something that I need to or I’m going to get myself in trouble.

The year after I started my sole-proprietorship I did my own taxes and was convinced I’d done something wrong. I lost my nerve, and went to a friends father (who was an accountant) and hired him to re-do them. He got the same amount TO THE PENNY that I did… Last year I hired an accountant, and found a few mistakes in what he’d done (small amounts, and in the goverment’s favour, so I let them go).

I guess after that I should follow telly (and your) advice and just have the confidence to do it myself.

7 WoolyWoman

Yes I have done my business taxes myself too and I also get scared (but am to cheap to pay an accountant so far). Isn’t funny how we doubt our financial knowledge when in fact when you read up on what you are doing you can be just as knowledgeable (if not more it sounds like). Too bad the course was such a bust, but I am glad you got most of your $$ back!

8 telly

I’m tempted to get an accountant to do my taxes for 2006 but oddly enough, I haven’t been able to find one that uses the article in the Canada-US Tax treaty that I used last year. It actually took A LOT of work and research but hopefully I’ll be better prepared next year (though I don’t have the greatest memory!)

Preparing your own taxes when you have a fairly difficult scenario is actually more important imo than for a simple salaried employee with some RRSPs. The savings could be much more substantial (they were for me). If I had a simple return, I’d probably pay the $60 just due to laziness. Having prepared my taxes last year, I did a much better job of planning throughout the year….stuff that accoutants do not include in their tax prep fees.

One thing I’ll need to learn more about this time around is whether an expense is considered an expense or capital expenditure. It seems there is a fine line sometimes…

BTW MC, it appears as though you might actually be able to use your LOC to pay the mortgage (principal & interest) on your rental property. At least that’s the feedback I’m getting over at the CB forums.

9 Mr. Cheap

Telly: Thanks for asking around for me! Are you sure your sister isn’t more like you? ;-)

I actually called revenue canada and asked them whether an external hard drive was an expense or a capital expenditure (and if it was a capital expenditure, which category it fit under). The guy sounded confused, put me on hold for 5 minutes, and came back and told me it was a capital expenditure and were to put it.

If in doubt, you can always make a free call to revenue canada (and I’m sure once they’ve made a few rulings for you, you’ll get the idea, or you could call them with a list of deductions and ask them were each would fit)…

10 Dan

Thanks for the post. I’ve seen the class on a few resumes and thought maybe I should take it since I have the time. But after reading your review and a few others, I know I would be beating my head against the desk in the first hour.

11 Peter Sullivan

I did attend the course, and actually found it useful for my own purposes. I did work for the Block for a while, I now do tax returns voluntarily for a Seniors Outreach Service. For personal taxes buy U-File or Quicktax or any of the other readily available software packages, they are idiot proof, honestly! and a lot cheaper.

12 Peter Sullivan

I have just read a comment above by “Telly” re his advice to read any Evelyn Jacks books, good advice, I have her 30 minute tax solution and found it invaluable. It is out of print now, but essential tax facts is probably as good, if not better.

13 Marie

This program focuses on teaching you how to do income tax returns and although they promote self understanding of the process of income tax returns it is actually to the benefit of the company for those who score highest or show the greatest ability often have the opportunity to work at H&R Block during the busy tax months. It is a way to make money and employ low wage workers.

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