Personal Finance

H&R Block Tax Course

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.

17 replies on “H&R Block Tax Course”

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!

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.

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.

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 fianc?’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 😛

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.

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!

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.

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)…

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.

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.

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.

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.

Revenue Canada website is also a great source of knowledge for free. However if you are trying to learn taxes & want to do it as a Profession then I would recommend the Softron Online Courses. The courses are well organized with a lot of helpful links & videos. You can do their course on any mobile device. The course is good for new immigrants who are looking to update their skills & want a certificate to prove their knowledge.

I guess you are one of those guys who judges the book by the cover. Well, if you were expecting to learn about business income or rental income, you had pretty high expectations. Those are level 2 courses and guess you did not know that only level 1 is available for public. The courses at higher levels are ‘offered’ to individuals who have worked for HRB for one season, at the minimum.

Level 1 is for “beginners”. I do think that you would understand “beginners” do prefer to be taught in steps and be repeated many times. So before you belittle the instructor, I challenge you to do as good a job by instructing new learners and producing similar results. If not, just SHUT UP.

My two cents. Oh, BTW, you have no clue about the “value” of that $300+ course and the experience that comes with working one or two seasons with HRB. Obviously you cannot judge/value something which you have not experienced. I am not a fan of their business, but definitely I don’t have any complaints about their courses. I took the level 1 course some 8 0r 9 years back, but I still refer to their material.

Have fun spreading your spiel. Crooked one I dare say.

I took their basic course in 2016 and wasn’t very impressed. Although it was good general information for myself, the teaching quality wasn’t great (old fashioned lecturing with little hands on work). Our class was crammed into a run-down back office with poor lighting and outdated computers (half didn’t work). I wouldn’t recommend taking their course, as you can learn all the material yourself without paying a fee.

I have now worked for H&R Block for 5 years. By choice I worked the first two years as a receptionist which I loved. I have worked the last three years as a tax preparer. I enjoy very much what I do. I am sorry you find it necessary to criticize the company. If it was not for you, it was simply not for you. End of story: but for many others it is fun and a welcomed experience every returning year. (The course focused on VERY SLOW learners.) is insulting at best. Please of all things going on in this world lecturing H&R Block is the least of your problems. Cheers. Eva

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