|Founded||January 25, 1955Kansas City, Missouri, United States, in|
|Headquarters||Kansas City, Missouri, United States|
Number of employees
Footnotes / references|
As of 2018, H&R Block operates approximately 12,000 retail tax offices staffed by tax professionals worldwide. It also offers consumer tax software as well as online tax preparation and electronic filing from their website. The Kansas City-based company also offers payroll, and business consulting services.
During World War II, Henry W. Bloch was a young Army Air Forces navigator who wanted to start a family business with his brothers in Kansas City. Home from the war in 1946, Henry saw a pamphlet suggesting a bright future for companies serving small businesses, and it sparked his imagination. That year, Henry and his older brother, Leon, borrowed $5,000 and opened a small bookkeeping business on Main Street in downtown Kansas City. However, four months later, they had few clients and Leon decided to seek a law degree.
Henry wanted to keep trying with the fledgling business and placed a newspaper ad for help-wanted. He got an unexpected response—from his mother—who proposed that Henry hire his younger brother, Richard, for the job. Henry and Richard Bloch jointly ran their United Business Company, which focused on accounting, bookkeeping and payroll, but also did some income tax work for clients. The brothers took out an ad for its $5 tax services in The Kansas City Star newspaper in 1955. The ad was a success and H&R Block was born. The Bloch brothers chose to spell the name "Block" with a K to ensure the name is not mispronounced "blotch".
In 1956, the Blochs decided to expand and picked New York City. Neither brother wanted to move to New York, so they agreed to sell that regional operation, creating the first H&R Block franchise tax office. In the following years, H&R Block grew and went public in 1962.
In 1980 H&R Block purchased the Compuserve online service. By 1986, Block was handling more than 10 million tax returns annually and had opened offices in Canada and Australia. That year, the company worked with the Internal Revenue Service to introduce electronic filing.
The company began to expand in the 1990s into the financial services arena, offering mortgage loans, banking and business services. H&R Block purchased Olde Discount Stockbrokers in 1999 and operated as a full-service securities broker-dealer under the name H&R Block Financial Advisors. In 2008, the company sold its H&R Block Financial Advisors unit to Ameriprise Financial for $315 million. At the time, the unit managed $30 billion in assets and employed 900 financial advisors in the U.S.
RSM McGladrey Business Solutions was created in 1999 when H&R Block acquired the assets of McGladrey & Pullen, aside from its auditors and attest services which remained under ownership of McGladrey's partners. Following the acquisition H&R Block became the sixth-largest accounting firm in the U.S. McGladrey had 100 offices in 25 states and offered accounting, consulting, tax services, and international business services to mid-sized companies. Through an alliance with McGladrey & Pullen and other accountancies, the Block subsidiary operated in 70 countries under the RSM International name. In 2011, H&R Block sold the unit back to McGladrey & Pullen.
In August 2005, H&R Block announced that it had overstated its earnings for 2003 and 2004 by $91.1 million. The company stated that it had "insufficient resources" to identify and report complex transactions in its corporate tax accounting. On February 23, 2006, the company said in its quarterly results that it had miscalculated its own state income taxes for 2005 and 2004, and that it owed an additional $32 million in back taxes.
In December 2005, H&R Block sent its customers free copies of its TaxCut software, and the mailing labels on the packages mistakenly included the recipients' Social Security numbers. The company said it sent the promotional mailing to former customers and people whose names were taken from purchased lists. It said it is legally required to hold on to customers' tax information, including Social Security numbers, for three years. H&R Block said no customer data has been lost or stolen as a result of the mistake, and that less than 3 percent of the mailings were involved.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued H&R Block in February 2006, alleging the company's refund anticipation loan (RAL) business violated state and federal laws in its marketing and providing of high-cost RALs mainly to low-income clients. The company responded that it "believes the refund lending program is both fair and legal, and will vigorously defend against the complaint". On January 2, 2009, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. reached a $4.85 million settlement with H&R Block, which prohibits the company from deceptively marketing high-cost refund anticipation loans as early "tax refunds". The company set aside $2.45 million in restitution for customers if they purchased a "refund anticipation loan" or a "refund anticipation check" through H&R Block between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2008. In addition, H&R Block agreed to pay $500,000 in penalties and $1.9 million in fees and costs. In 2011, H&R Block ceased offering RALs altogether, a move praised by consumer rights activists.
On March 16, 2006, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued H&R Block, accusing the company of deceptive marketing of its Express IRA retirement accounts. The lawsuit alleged the company assessed fees, including set-up fees, annual fees, and account closing fees that, for 85% of account holders, resulted in the account losing money. However, in July 2007, a New York state judge dismissed much of the lawsuit. Justice Karla Moskowitz of the State Supreme Court excused Block and five of its units from the lawsuit. She let stand the portion of the complaint concerning another unit, H&R Block Financial Advisers, but dismissed allegations of common law fraud. At the time of the ruling, H&R Block said it believed the remaining assertions lacked merit and that it would appeal. On January 6, 2009, a New York state appeals court overruled trial justice Karla Moskowitz's July 2007 ruling and reinstated the lawsuit against H&R Block Inc that accused the company of fraudulently marketing Express IRA retirement accounts to hundreds of thousands of lower-income clients nationwide. The matter was settled in 2009, and H&R Block agreed to pay $11.4 million to $19.4 million of fees to customers and $750,000 in fees and other costs.
H&R Block hired Jeff Jones, a former Target Corporation and Uber executive, as president and CEO on October 9, 2017. He replaced Tom Gerke, who was interim CEO following the retirement of former CEO Bill Cobb. Jones has said he sees H&R Block as a financial services company and a retail company, and aims to grow the company.
H&R Block is headquartered at 13th and Main streets, Kansas City, Missouri, in a building constructed downtown in the 2000s as part of an effort to revitalize the city's downtown. The company is governed by an 11-member board of directors. Jeff Jones is CEO. Tony Bowen is CFO. As of April 30, 2018[update], H&R Block employs approximately 2,700 regular full-time employees, and as many as 90,700 including seasonal employees. It generates over $3 billion annually in revenue. The company also runs The Tax Institute at H&R Block.
The brand has undertaken several high-profile marketing campaigns, including television commercials featuring actor Jon Hamm and NBA player Anthony Davis. H&R Block's "Get Your Billions Back, America" campaign started in 2014. It featured Richard Gartland, a real H&R Block tax professional known for wearing bow ties. The campaign focused on urging taxpayers to seek their full potential refund at tax time. Anthony Davis, a power forward and center with the New Orleans Pelicans, became a spokesman for H&R Block in 2015. The company first aired ads featuring Mad Men actor Jon Hamm in 2017, using the tagline "Get your taxes won", in a 12-spot campaign that was the largest in H&R Block's history. Hamm returned as H&R Block's spokesman in 2018 with a new campaign throughout the tax season.
The company partners with United Way MyFreeTaxes to offer its software for free state and federal tax returns. H&R Block is also a member of the Free File Alliance, a consortium of commercial tax preparers and the IRS offering free-tax-prep for low-income and moderate-income taxpayers, and Military One Source, which lets members of the military service file for free.
As part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives, in 2014 H&R Block launched an online game for high school students called the Budget Challenge.  The challenge is part of the company's Dollars & Sense financial literacy effort, and offers college scholarships for teenage students who win the game.
Retail and digital tax services
H&R Block has 70,000 tax pros in its 10,000 U.S. retail tax offices. In addition to the company's traditional retail tax offices, it offers digital tax preparation programs and software. It filed 23 million tax returns worldwide in 2016.
The company's services Tax Pro Review and Tax Pro Go were launched in 2017. Tax Pro Review is an updated version of its former service Best of Both, where clients enter their information and do their returns online and are matched with Block tax professional reviews for help. H&R Block Tax Pro Go is marketed to online filers who do not want to or cannot visit an H&R Block office.
H&R Block's tax software comes in different versions. In addition to the free edition, there are Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed editions. Users can log on using various devices, import photos of their W-2 forms and use a searchable knowledge base. The Deluxe and Premium editions include free online chat with a tax professional.
In January 2016, H&R Block launched Block Advisors, a service that provides year-round consumer tax preparation. The company has opened about 350 Block Advisor offices. Its advisors include certified public accountants, enrolled agents, or have been certified by H&R Block as master tax advisors.
The company signed a deal with Walmart in 2018, to make H&R Block software the only desktop tax preparation software sold at the retailer's stores. H&R Block also created a deal with Amazon.com in 2017 for better product placement of its suite of software products.
In 2017, H&R Block partnered with IBM to bring IBM Watson technology into its retail offices. Under the partnership, H&R Block tax pros received access to IBM's artificial intelligence system to help tax pros prepare better tax returns for clients.
Other products and services
Following research on the potential expat market in 2013, H&R Block began its Expat Tax Services program to offer tax advice to U.S. citizens living outside the country.
H&R Block maintains financial services products, including the Emerald Card pre-paid debit card and Emerald Advance line of credit. Additionally, the company's Tax Identity Shield offers identity theft protection.
Former business areas
The H&R Block Bank was chartered in 2006 and offered low-cost services to its low- to moderate-income customers. In September 2015, H&R Block sold H&R Block Bank to BofI Holding Inc. The two companies reached an agreement for BofI to serve as the bank for H&R Block-branded financial services products including the Emerald MasterCard, Refund Anticipation Checks, and Emerald Advance lines of credit.
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Directors of H and R Block Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., and Compuserve Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, have approved the acquisition of Compuserve by a subsidiary of Block.
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But annuity broker Tom Delaney was surprised to find that H & R Block Canada Inc., the big tax-preparation firm, had completed a tax return for one of his senior-citizen clients - and charged her $20.80 - even though she wasn't taxable and wasn't getting money back.
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This is what happened with a group of clients of H & R Block's former Brookvale franchisee during 1986, 1987 and 1988.
- Mace, Scott (25 November 1985). "IRS test project allows electronic tax returns". InfoWorld. Retrieved 21 February 2018. (Registration required (. ))
H&R Block Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, is the first tax preparation service to announce participation in the IRS project. Between January 1 and April 15 of next year, customers of designated H&R Block offices can use H&R Block's Rapid Refund service, said Thomas Bloch, president of tax operations for the firm. Such customers have the option of either paying H&R Block to prepare the return or bringing in one already prepared.
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Anderson has gotten the company moving fast in the new direction. In October, Block announced it would pay $ 44 million for ailing Fairfield, Conn.-based MECA Software, Inc., a company whose main products include TaxCut, Andrew J. Tobias' Managing Your Money and Fidelity Online Express.
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Bears contend that Block has limited experience in the mortgage business. It bought Option One in 1997, and Option One in Irvine, Calif., has itself been in business only since 1993.
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In June, Block purchased McGladrey & Pullen LLP, the nation's seventh-largest accounting firm, for $ 240 million. The company said that purchase has pushed revenue for its business services to $ 24.2 million during the first quarter, compared to $ 1.3 million last year. Including McGladrey & Pullen, H&R Block has acquired eight accounting firms since May 1998.
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Tax preparer H&R Block has completed its $850 million purchase of Olde Financial Corp., the nation's fourth-largest discount broker.
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H&R Block Inc. announced that it is buying McGladrey & Pullen LLP,a Bloomington, Minn. accounting firm, effectively making the tax preparation giant the sixth-largest U.S. accounting firm.
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- Kansas City Business Journal | date=Dec. 1, 2011
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- "Consumer Advocates Applaud H&R Block Decision to Forego RALs and Urge Republic, Jackson Hewitt and Liberty to Stop Making High Cost Loans - Consumer Federation of America" (PDF). 2011-09-14.
- Spitzer brings fraud suit against H&R Block, CNN Money, David Ellis, March 16, 2006. “ . . One unnamed 32-year-old from Albany, NY resident cited in the complaint opened an Express IRA account in 2002 with the minimum contribution of $300. The account earned $10.29 in interest over the past four years; the account holder paid $45 in fees over that same period of time. . ”
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