Team 10 Tax Test: Which service saved money for a local mom

Services rated on convenience, comfort, cost

SAN DIEGO - It is tax season and figuring out where to go can be confusing.

You want the biggest return while paying the least amount possible.

Team 10 put three options to the test through Krissi Trevino, a single mother of two children.

Trevino went to a local tax preparation shop, a corporate chain and an online service. She rated all services on convenience, comfort and cost.

Trevino had three W-2s because of a change in jobs. Trevino also had unemployment to factor in and charitable donations.

First, Trevino went to Capital Business and Tax Service in Pacific Beach. The locally owned shop has been in San Diego for more than 40 years.

"I'm interested to see what kinds of questions they ask," said Trevino before walking in.

She said they charged her $115 and it took nearly 40 minutes.

Capital Business and Tax Service was able to get her $6,060 back from the Internal Revenue Service.

Trevino said the accountant was very nice, but she wanted to see if other options cost less money to file her returns.

"I probably wouldn't pay that much money to have a conversation with a tax accountant," she said.

Her second stop was H&R Block in Pacific Beach.

"I assume it's going to be very in and out," said Trevino.

H&R Block offered Trevino a free consultation at a location on Garnett Avenue.

"She was more cut and dry, but she got it done and explained to me what my taxes mean," Trevino said.

The company got Trevino $6,070 in returns and it would have cost $233 to file her taxes.

The fee comes with some guarantees, including protection for a year if the IRS were to do an audit on Trevino.

"I don't think I'd pay $233, even for the peace of mind," said Trevino.

Then she tried an online option, Turbo Tax, which is owned by San Diego-based Intuit.

"I expect to just click through it and get it done hopefully 20 minutes," said Trevino before she started.

With no one there to guide her, it took about 70 minutes and she received $6,060 in returns.

It cost her $76 to do her taxes using TurboTax.

Even though it took the longest, she said to do her taxes when and where she wants is priceless and chose TurboTax to file.

Team 10 called all three companies after Trevino filed her taxes.

An Intuit spokeswoman said she is not surprised that Trevino chose TurboTax. She said Trevino and 25 million people have figured out you can get the same refund for less money.

Capital Business and Tax Service said they have 2,700 clients and they do no advertising. They stay in business because of word of mouth and referrals. The locally owned shop said they are reasonable and knowledgeable.

H&R Block sent Team 10 the following statement:

H&R Block's tax professionals provide guaranteed tax return preparation services in-person at retail tax offices open year-round and through block livesm, the only face-to-face online tax preparation experience available in the industry.

When you work with H&R Block to prepare and file your taxes, you not only work with some of the most experienced, well trained tax preparers in the industry, you also get access to some of the best tax research and insight.

The average H&R Block client is seen by a tax professional with more than a decade of experience and hundreds of hours of training. In addition, H&R Block tax professionals have the resource of the tax institute, the go-to source for objective insights on federal and state tax laws affecting the individual. The laws affecting your taxes can change frequently. Our experts at the tax institute make sure that H&R Block tax professionals are always up-to-date, ensuring that you get current advice. We review change to tax law as they go into effect and assess their impact on your tax situation, providing you with practical information on complex tax issues in plain language.

The tax institute draws from the expertise of credentialed tax policy specialists including CPAs, enrolled agents, attorneys and former IRS agents with years of experience and access to H&R Block's extensive national network of industry experts and data.

H&R Block is able to offer consistent high-quality tax preparation across the nation. Allowing you to confidently and conveniently select your tax professional no matter what city, state or country life takes you.

Clients receive free e-file, our guarantee, experience of tax professionals and protection of personal information.

Background
-- The H&R Block guarantee: The H&R Block guarantee is included with every tax return we prepare. If H&R Block makes an error on your return, we'll pay resulting penalties and interest. If you are audited, we'll explain your IRS tax audit notice and the documentation you should provide to the auditor.
-- Maximum refund guarantee: Get the maximum refund you're entitled to, or your tax preparation is free.
-- Satisfaction guarantee: We're so certain that you'll have a positive experience that you don't pay until you're satisfied.
-- Tax audit support: If you are being audited, H&R Block is on your side. From the time you receive an IRS notice to when the audit is resolved, you can depend on audit assistance or audit representation to help you through it.
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