H&R Block said it would offer the ability to electronically file up to five federal tax returns in its TaxCut software next tax season, as Intuit also offered the ability for TurboTax users to prepare and print multiple returns at no extra cost along with free e-filing of up to five federal returns.

Block said it would include the free e-filing feature in the software without raising prices and had tweaked its main competitor, Intuit's TurboTax, for not doing the same. Block claimed its pricing would help customers hit by the financial crisis.

"At H&R Block, we understand that in this tough economy, Americans are watching every dollar and don't want to be surprised by additional tax preparation costs or add-on feature fees," said H&R Block president of digital tax Sabrina Wiewel in a statement.

Intuit, however, countered with its own offer of preparing and printing multiple returns at no additional cost, and including free electronic filing with every federal return, up to five returns, the limit set by the IRS.

"TurboTax desktop pricing did change this year," said spokesperson Julie Miller. "As we do every year, we increase the value of TurboTax by including features and services our customers want and use most. We’ve done this in the past with things like ItsDeductible and audit support tools. Rather than charge separately, we now include them in the product at an overall lower price than what customers would have otherwise paid separately. That’s true this year with the addition of unlimited federal e-filing in TurboTax desktop products. Frankly, while there was a $15 price change, for the majority of our customers who e-file, these changes actually result in a savings of a few dollars."

Intuit said the new offer would result in the deferral of approximately $70 million of revenue from its second fiscal quarter to its third fiscal quarter.

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