H & R Block Wants to Rip You Off

So, for the past few weeks, you’ve probably been seeing those ads from H&R Block. You know, the ones where they tell you breathlessly that Americans who are foolish enough to prepare their own tax returns are missing out on a billion dollars. A BILLION DOLLARS!!

The implication, of course, is that the amount paid to the IRS by people who do their own taxes is a billion (BILLION!!!) dollars more than it would be if they had H&R Block do their taxes.

Let’s assume that’s correct. What does it mean for you, the taxpayer?

According to the IRS, about 145 million income tax forms were filed in 2011. According to Pew Research, about a third of people do their own taxes. That means there are just shy of 50 million self-prepared income tax returns filed every year.

So, that billion (BILLION!!!!!) dollars amounts to about twenty-one (21!!!) dollars per self-prepared return.

According to H&R Block’s 2013 Report to Shareholders, during their fiscal year ending on April 30, they prepared 22 million US returns, for which they brought in $1.7 billion, which is an average of $77 per return (including returns that users prepare using their online tools, at prices ranging from zero to $50, depending on the complexity of the return).

That average is actually on the cheap end overall. According the the National Society of Accountants, the average tax preparation fee for returns without itemized deductions is $152. Nevertheless, speaking in averages, H&R Block’s argument is that you should pay them $77 so that you can pay $21 less to the US government.

There are legitimate reasons to use a tax preparer. For instance, there’s the calculation of how much time you would save by paying someone to do your taxes, and how much your time is worth to you, factoring in how much you like or dislike doing your taxes. What pisses me off is the way these ads exploit the fact that a billion is a large number to imply a big payoff.

It’s like saying, “Americans spend millions of dollars every year on snow shovels. So you should hire me to shovel your driveway. I’m not going to tell you how much I’ll charge you, but you can (probably) safely assume that it will be less than millions of dollars!”

On a related note, keep in mind that, like other corporations that make their money from tax preparation, H&R Block spends millions of dollars every year lobbying congress, much of it to oppose legislation to simplify the tax code.

91 thoughts on “H & R Block Wants to Rip You Off”

  1. As a matter of fact, I heard that very add tonight on my drive home from work. I quickly added it to the pile of things I have to quickly process and relegate as noise. However, it did seem a little over the top and I thought of the many vulnerable people who would be drawn in by such an add.

    Thanks for this post.

    Also, thanks for the Wilkins-Wakeley model paper. (I think that’s you?) I only recently discovered that you have a blog.

    All the best,


    1. I don’t know what idiot wrote this article, but he need to do a little more research. The numbers are way off. IRS report for 2013 tax year stated that over 5.5 Billion dollar got paid out to fraudulent returns. It takes years to learn the tax code and requires on going education to keep up with the changes. Some people manage to get their self prepared tax returns accepted by the IRS, but that does not mean they are right. Almost every person doing their own tax return will miss a deduction or credit due to them or put something down that they should not. I will agree that H&R block fees seem high, but what you are getting with them and any of the other tax companies are legal tax returns done by professionals.

      1. You tell them, Mike!
        I am so sick of these pundits who think they can spew a few made up facts & figures and pass themselves off as experts!

  2. HR Block overcharges on doing income tax, especially for someone as my mom who is 81 and has been going to the HR block for more than 40 yrs. She was chared 320.50 dollars, she cannot afford that kind of bill, and she had not been told the price beforehand. Im telling people left and right not go to HR Block. This is one unhappy customer.

      1. It’s not that she was unhappy with the work; it was the PRICE that should have been calculated before the return was even started. They have programs for that

        1. The price CANNOT be determined before hand. You don’t know what forms are needed or what their tax issues are until you interview them. Trust me I earn my money as a preparer for block. 100 + hours of training each year is a requirement before I can sit at the desk. I has a client sit at my desk and leave because of the price, but yet bragged about his work as Mgr of the Egglands Best production line at $3.79 per dozen. What do you do for a living? Are you worth what you get paid? I bet you a lot of people say your not.

        2. There is no way of knowing how much the return will cost without knowing exactly what is going into the return. And most people are incorrect when they say what they have. So over the phone pricing is difficult.

    1. We cannot tell anyone the price before their tax return has been completed because we do not know ahead of time! The price is generated by the computer based on the number of forms needed and the number of entries on each form. There is no way to even guess a ballpark figure beforehand.

      Also, the prices go up a lot the last week, to take advantage of the procrastinators. Based on the date of your post, she was charged a higher price for waiting til the last minute. Tell her to go in March next year. It’s very rude to us taxpreparers to force us to work 16 hour days the last week, when they’ve had nearly 3 months to get it done!

      Based on the fee you’re stating she was charged, she had a moderately complex tax return with multiple forms, and definitely COULD afford the fee, because she HAD to have had multiple sources of income to need the multiple forms.

      I dare you to go anywhere else…I guarantee the price will be roughly the same or higher, and the likelihood of it being done correctly will be much, much less. No other tax preparers are as well trained as H & R Block’s. CPAs do not know taxes, they know accounting. They get one tax class in a four year degree program! When I do Second Looks, I see more mistakes made by CPAS than average people doing it themselves online. Plus, H & R Block will back you up if you get audited, or if the preparer does make a mistake. No one else does that, certainly not a CPA!

      1. No they don’t ! I’ve audit and had to do my own paper work please H&R Blocks over charge to do your tax. 499 sometimes 600 I would not go back to them , I found other tax office who did my taxes for 125 or less never again.!

        1. you can go anywhere and even do it for free
          that does not bring down the value of the work done by hr block and done right

      2. I took the H & R Block training, and decided not to take the job. Wound up going to college for taxes and have been a tax preparer for 10 years now. I can tell you, the prices are quite high. And anyone with goid common tax knowledge can talk to a client for 5 minutes and give a very good estimate! Unfortunately, with the training block gives to their preparers, I don’t think any of them could estimate, let alone prepare a proper complex return!

      3. I really have to disagree with you about the CPAs, clearly you do not have a clue what maintaining that license requires, or what kinds of work CPAs do.
        I am a CPA in a public practice. I not only have to take 40 hours of continuing education a year (and I always do much much more), I also teach. I prepare taxes in addition to many other tasks, and have done so for over 30 years. Most CPAs I know in public practice (as opposed to working in private companies in accounting departments) prepare tax returns. Yes, CPAs *do* know taxes. When I review returns from H & R Block, I see errors as well – nobody is perfect, the errors can be fixed, and happen most often because the client forgets to provide information to the preparer, not because the preparer was incompetent. As for backing a client up in an audit, CPAs certainly do that as well. I’ve represented a client in an audit even when I did not prepare the return. Do you know why? It’s because I know taxes well enough that I didn’t have to be the preparer. Another thing CPAs do for their clients that I’ve never heard H & R Block preparers do is tax planning. Not just the “If you contribute to a HSA or IRA you can get a tax deduction,” but real planning for the future through retirement and beyond. That’s the real value of CPA, we take the time to know our clients and build the kind of relationships with them that most H & R Block preparers can’t. And by the way, I’ve never seen a 1065, 1120, 1120S, or 1041 prepared by H & R Block. I rarely see a return prepared by H & R Block with a Schedule C, D, E, or F. Not saying they’re not out there, but no client I ever worked with would even consider having a complicated return like that prepared at H & R Block.

    2. She must of had a more complex return than just some retirement. The more complex the return is the more it’s going to cost. Cost depends on the complexity of the items on it. It takes some knowledge to get it right and not leave things out that will cause her problems in the long run.

    3. Your mom must have property, investments, and/or a considerable income. If she was just the little old lady from Pasadena who just needs a Social Security income claimed, it would have been but $65 give our take a few bucks. Block charges by the type and number of forms that need to be prepared so there is no way to give an accurate quote without first song all the paperwork. If after the tax prep is done, if she doesn’t think the value is worth the fee, then she doesn’t have to pay for it. Block just makes the return, does not file it, and she can do the taxes herself. At no time is anyone ever forced to pay even after the prep is done. You are paying for the actual electronic filing of the finished taxes.

    4. I suspect that there is more to the story then you are telling. If your 81 year old mother has more than a simple return. I bet she has maybe dividends, interest and probably other income or other items of equal complexity. Thus, the higher cost. Be honest. Ask yourself why are you really angry?

      As for the cost, I would think that an average family of four or-five people going out for a nice dinner, would pay more than the average cost of a return.

    5. HRB always gives you the option of NOT using them to file your taxes if you think it is too expensive.

      They charge according to how many documents you bring in, and how many forms they have to fill out. Therefore, they don’t know the price before they actually do it. but you can always say, “NO thanks — that’s too much.” They will give your documents back and you can leave.

      1. Yes you should have done her taxes yourself, rather than complaining about other doing her work for her for 40 years.
        your mom knew that she is going to right doctor for correct diagnosis and treatment rather than going to over the counter medication for a complex problem.
        More over this company is in the business for for over half a century with good name and without any advertisement.
        Now some stupid advisers may have lead to these stupid ways of attention of public leading to some people claiming that HR Block is ripping the taxpayer. I have seen very simple return with one W2 being charged more than $500 by so called cheaper tax companies. Most of the tax companies charge far more for similar return. HR block fee rang from $35 to any amount based on the work done and number of hours spent on the work. Some time H&R Block professionals help their client accounting and don’t charge for that. So it is unfair to just say any thing because some one like to say some thing.

    6. Actually, Julie, the reason she was not given a price before hand is because they know that an individual’s tax situation can be as individual as they are. The fee structure is essentially form based. The more complex the return, the more forms used. the more forms used, the more the return will cost.
      Also, your mom was under no obligation to pay for the return until she okay’d the final numbers at the end of the ‘customer review.’ That’s one reason why they do the customer review. The taxpayer’s gross income / adjusted gross income/ adjustments & deductions/total tax liability/ credits and payments/ final net tax liability/ amount owed/to be refunded are all gone over (or are supposed to be) as well as the total amount for the tax preparation and any other ‘purchases’ with the taxpayer. Why? Because in the end, you are signing your agreement that these numbers are correct and the preparer is not the one who will be in trouble – the taxpayer is – if these amounts are incorrect it is the taxpayer who will be responsible for any additional amounts due for tax, interest, and /or penalties. But at no time is any client obligated to pay those fees until they have approved the final numbers and authorized the preparer to file it.

    7. You are one unhappy customer but it seems that your mom isn’t. Over 40 years screams happy to me. Your mom’s returns are not simple returns. I will not get into the forms, sources of income and such because I’m sure that you already know. Many times, clients call and say it’s a simple return, looking for a quote in which we can not give. Each return is different. In fact, those that call with “simple returns” come into the office and they are as complex as one can imagine. Client’s are never forced to pay if they are not satisfied with the price. They can choose not to have them filed and walk away. Ask your mom why has she been coming to us for so long. I guarantee that she will tell you that she trusts us and are happy with our service.

    8. I’m surprised your Mom would even be required to file a tax return , unless she has a substantial amount of interest, dividends and investments. Most taxpayers with only social security income are not required to file a tax return. And you can get a free estimate of the cost of preparing your taxes before they are even done. You can leave at any time without paying any fees.

    9. Really? You DO realize, at your mothers age & her supposed income they would not even submit her taxes as she wouldn’t owe (if her income is SS benefits) AND almost all states are very liberal on taxing of SS; the MOST they might do is some type of Homestead paperwork – which ALWAYS gets the client a refund – and it’s around $49! The ONLY EXCEPTION is if the client INSISTS the returns be filed – even though we inform them it’s not needed.
      EVEN IF THE TAX PREPARATION DID TOTAL THIS (& it could on a normal return with stocks, retirements beyond SS, interests, etc), the client is NEVER forced to accept the fees! If a client wants to not file with Block, they CAN LEAVE – even at the very end – with their original paperwork in hand – just not the return done by Block.
      So – I call BUNK on you – you’re as full of bunk as your story is of holes, & anyone who does taxes – or has their taxes done for them – knows it, too. Feed you bunk somewhere else.

    10. Except that you are not the customer, your mother is the client. She wants her tax preparation done correctly and the piece of mind that H&R Block stands behind their work.

    11. Your mother at anytime could say no to HRBlock. They never force someone to file. After they are done preparing the return they tell the person the price and the client then can say yes or no to filing.

    12. Amazing. A company spends millions to train people th each them the concept of integrity and offers their services to everyone. These preparers have hundred of hours of training and prepares very good returns while listening to some one who hasn’t the slights idea of where to start. You are lucky to have honest preparers like Block to keep you honest and correct. If she can’t afford to singer taxes right then don’t do them and then see what ot costs her later. Grow up be real

    13. H&R Block does offer a client to take their information and leave without paying if their not satisfied with the preparation or fee. The client need to speak up on how they feel and not just leave and then run the company down. They offer a service that they trained and updated on each tax season.

    14. Same here for me. They charged me 225.00 , the preparer didn’t ask me the about my son who was living with me and not his father after a divorce. Things were missed and i had to get a amended return. That cost me another 100 dollars. Then after months of waiting the IRS lost my return and i had to send another copy. Come October i got a letter from the IRS saying i owed 60 more dollars. This year taxes were done free from HR Block from all the hastle. But still people that owe taxes another 200.00 is still too much.

  3. Actually the ‘Billion dollar Lost’ ad is referring to the billion dollars that uneducated tax preparers, namely self preparers, throw away by doing their own taxes because they may not know all the credits or deductions to take. Also by the mistakes they make and end up owing the IRS later with penalties, so this is just an article to try to discredit the many well informed and educated tax preparers with H & R Block.

    1. You are correct! There are a lot of changes every year. H&R Block makes sure their tax professionals are kept up to date. They won’t charge you $40 to fill out a form if it is only going to get you $15.
      I am not a H&R Block accountant, I am a tax professional who has taken a lot of classes and done a lot of studying. I know what I am talking about. When you do your own taxes and mess up, I am the one who sits on the phone for hours with the IRS trying to get it straightened back out for you. If you paid an accountant, there is an easy $500 just in time.
      I helped a couple get almost $10,000 back from the IRS after they made a costly mistake by doing their own taxes. It only cost them $100. So I’m ripping off the public? Look again.

    2. Thank you!!! Well said… We do not try to rip anyone off and as an enrolled agent we have a lot of continuing education to do on a yearly basis so that we can keep up with ALL the changing tax laws so that we can better inform our clients, stay in compliance and help our clients get all of deductions that they are entitled to!!!

  4. Tax pros study every year to keep on top of the latest tax news and yes it is not so easy to do your taxes if you haven’t done that.
    That takes time you know like college courses. These courses are alot harder than in college. At least you have a teacher to help.
    We are not just sitting in the office waitng. The software that is out on the market makes mistakes and I have found quite a few of them when I do that second look we offer. Its free so do your return on line and then bring it into the office and we’ll see if we can finmd some mistakes. Wouldn’t it be nice to get more money for yourself. If we find a mistake the cost is only from $99. to 149. So come on in to your hrblock office.

  5. I don’t think they overcharge to do income taxes for a simple tax return. Considering the tax advice a CPA would charge per hour at $125 (typically) this would be incurred usually if you had to meet with the CPA more than once because of missing documents. Speaking of lobbying..Did you know that the AICPA is lobbying congress to drop the new continuing education system required by the IRS? You will have some CPA’s with little or no updated tax experience preparing hundreds of thousands of returns at the public’s expense.
    Block’s tax preparers demonstrated integrity by rising to the challenge to do the IRS competency test for all tax preparers mandated by the IRS two years ago.

    1. Actually, CPA’s are required to take continuing education courses, usually in their specialty, in order to renew their CPA certificates.

  6. Okay, I have to say, this is all a bit suspicious. I don’t know if you are all H&R Block accountants who feel somehow that your honor has been besmirched, or if this is actually part of a coordinated campaign by H&R Block to counter negative commentary. I’m also not sure which is worse. The former is more pathetic, but the latter is more evil. Maybe it’s a wash.

    Either way, I suspect these comments are at least somewhat disingenuous. The alternative is that they reveal a profound lack of reading comprehension and/or basic reasoning skills. But, on the off chance that there is some genuine misunderstanding here, let me reiterate.

    The argument presented in this post is not that H&R Block accountants are not well trained and skilled. In fact, I have accepted at face value the numbers H&R Block has put forward, that if all of the people who do their own taxes were to hire H&R Block, they would collectively save a billion dollars on their taxes.

    The point is that — again, based on H&R Block’s own numbers — these people would wind up paying H&R Block FOUR billion dollars.

    The math here is pretty simple. You will, on average, pay H&R Block four times more to do your taxes than you will save.

    My guess is that this is a disingenuous astroturfing campaign on the part of H&R Block. But, if I’m wrong, and these are just well intentioned accountants defending their reputation, that is even more concerning. If you don’t understand that paying H&R Block to catch your mistakes will cost you more than just letting those mistakes go (again, using H&R Block’s own numbers), you must be a profoundly incompetent accountant, and no one should ever hire you to do their taxes.

    1. I do work for hrb. I have worked there for 23 yrs. I take classes every year to increase my knowledge and understand the tax updates and changes. I am a caring person and I like what I do. I have a friend who had a rental property(duplex she lived in one half.) It used to take her three weeks of agony to do that return. When I started to work at hrb my first thought was that I wish she had come to them. It would have saved her time and misery.

    2. The H&R Block Post or Commercial is not for only individuals who does their own tax return. It’s for tax returns prepared by any one other than H&R Block.

    3. I’m al E.A. that has been working for HRBlock for 20 years. Your math exercise is cute but the facts remain I am worth my money! Every year I correct others mistakes and get them hundreds of dollars more than HR charges.

    4. I’m not sure where you are getting your info from but the average price of AMENDING a return that is wrong is $99 and you could be getting a couple of thousand back. Please check your facts before posting.

    5. That’s not true. H&R Block does a free discount double check where they work though your taxes and tell you what your return would be if you had H&R Block file them along with the fees so the client can see if it’s worth it. Also your averaging is disingenuous. You know full well that it’s not $21 for every return. Some have no mistakes and some have big mistakes. The ones with big mistakes have a legitimate reason to have them professionally filed. My guess is that you’re an ex H&R employee with an axe to grind. Either that or someone who trys to find fault in everything.

    6. Do your own. Unless you’re an EZ filer, or trained already, you will probably make a mistake. Not necessarily one that will get you audited, but the average citizen has no idea how many deductions and credits are out there…lost money for you. Say you itemize…do you know what you can and cannot deduct? Heaven help you if you get the EIC and aren’t eligible-do you know the requirements? The IRS isn’t warm and fuzzy-they’ll fine you in addition to the taxes you owe…lost money for you? Even buying HR Block’s tax software won’t save you…there is no substitute for knowledge. We don’t charge for the return unless you file with us, we don’t charge for the second look, we promise a max return, a mistake free return, and promise to pay if there are errors-both the fines and the amended return. I can change my own oil in my car, but i can’t sue myself if i make a mistake, get what I’m saying?

    7. I understand what your saying about paying 4 billions dollars to save 1 billion. You are paying more to have your taxes done by H&R Block. But, do you want to do your taxes yourself in the first place. How many hours would it take you and how confident are you in your expertise. Do you mow your own
      lawn? If you pay someone to do it they are professionals and will charge according to their expertise. Think of the money you would save to do it yourself. It all comes down to this – do you want to do it yourself?

    8. The thing is that these are average numbers. Some self preparerers make no mistakes and others get ridiculous penalties from the IRS for incorrect returns.
      It isn’t that everybody should do their taxes at hrblock or that everyone will gain more for the extra charge, but that some people lose so much money in doing their own taxes and that the cost of doing it at HR Block would be less money lost than IRS penalties.
      Many people wouldn’t benefit from going to HRBlock money wise because the extra credits they get are worth less than the fees. But that is usually because they know what they are doing.
      Some people make honest mistakes that cost them hundreds or thousands. There are some that make no mistakes or lose a tiny credit. These are the people that make up the AVERAGE.
      The HRBlock rule is that your tax forms can be filled to the last page, but even then you are allowed to walk out if you think the price is too steep for you. Even after you put in multiple signatures at the end, when they tell you the price you can still walk out, take everything with you… You can even do your own taxes and go in to see what they would get you and charge for it to ammend, for free. If you don’t like it, walk away freely. There are free estimates for refunds and price.
      The point is that it is worth a look, but not everyone will benefit. You won’t know if you benefit unless you go. It is free. It will show you how well you do your own taxes, and if you’re good, then just keep doing vwhat you do.

    9. Who is missing math now…. I see that add as including some other preparers as well. I have certainly seen it. So…. sounds to me like you just want to vent.

    10. Seriously. You actually believe that it would be cheaper to “just let the errors go”, than to pay a competent tax professional to assist you with your tax preparation. I think that the word evil has been used in the wrong place. When you just let errors go, you still owe any taxes in question and now you “must” add penalties and interest to that amount. Why would anyone tell someone to just let errors go…..? Motive….?

    11. Deliberate rip-off? Really? Jon, while I appreciate free speech as much as you do, your bitterness and suspicion, maybe prompted by bad experience, does those of us who work for H&R Block a grave disservice. All businesses charge for their services, and if the price is too high, we in America have the freedom to go elsewhere, or as you suggest, do it yourself. And if you don’t like the ad campaign, you have the same freedom as I do to change the channel. H&R Block tax preparers are more than the semi-competent, over- zealous salespeople pushing an overpriced product to a misinformed public you seem to understand and express so vehemently. These implied allegations strike just as sour a note with me as your reaction to the ad campaign. I’d challenge you to actually take the basic tax course, or better still, work in an office for a season before using your free speech to slur those of us who work hard to honestly be of service during the tax season, and work to solve or mitigate problems off season as well, often for a wage well below other financial professionals or paraprofessionals. Your link to the lobbying article is informative but I need more information before I point fingers anywhere. Haven’t drunk any Koolaid, just spent 7 years working with a lot of individuals as colleagues, some more competent, knowledgeable and easy to deal with than others…as well as clients who are satisfied customers, also clients who are cautious, burnt by other agents or services, even our own…so far for me, Block has been a decent place to work and learn some professional and life lessons…and yes, I’ve been a client with Block and elsewhere, (Lots higher!) before deciding to work here. Can you say the same, in all fairness?

    12. Nope! You are – and I’m getting the feeling you’re used to hearing this – completely wrong! I have no knowledge of these other people, but I do know what’s right & wrong & my comments aren’t related to theirs – just saying.

    13. We aren’t accountants. We are tax professionals. We do taxes. I have seen person after person come into the office with a letter from the IRS because of an incorrect tax return they had someone else do or used a tax software or did it themselves. They come to us to “fix” it and we do! f you get audited and we did your return, we are with you every step. We certify our returns. Before bad mouthing a company that requires extensive training each and every year of their tax pros, why not go use their service and if you feel the price is too high just walk out. We don’t lock our clients in!!

  7. yeah HR Block is over charges and the sad thing is that it doesn’t even paid their tax pros well . I had my taxes done by them last year and yes they did a good job , but I ask the lady that finish my return about the pay and she been there for 4 years and getting pay $9.00 an hour and if they make a mistake is on them the company does not have their back , ( no wonder they hire new people every year )all the money they make and can’t pay their employees a decent amount. ” SHAME ON THEM “

    1. Block pays you very well if you know your stuff and certify up they pay you by just that your knowledge and what your worth, but you have to work for it. They don’t just give you a raise due to you coming back to work for them every year? If she had been working there 4 years and only making $9.00 than she wasn’ t doing what she needed to make that money? The main reason there are new preparers every year is because it’s a seasonal position so people are usually looking for a full time position. Unless you like doing taxes chances are you will move on. I know preparers making $30.00 and up and some have been their for over 20 years? So I would suggest not posting anything unless you have all the facts?

  8. The fallacy with part of that argument is that every one of the 50 million who self prepare make mistakes and everyone makes a $21 mistake. I think the ad does try to say that the average mistake comes out to much more than $21 per person. If the person is confident they’ve done it all right, don’t worry about it. Part of it is to bring people into offer second looks at a more marginal fee, then keep them as customers if they’re way off. They can choose not to complete the tax return if the cost is more than what they saved.

  9. Oh far the last comment, I have and do work at an HR Block, have not always agreed with how high there in house fees are, not 100% happy with all their policies, but it doesn’t make the argument of the article slightly mathematically bogus as well.

  10. I must say that going into my second year as an H & R Block tax professional that the first comment about getting your ” Billion Back ” is ludicrous. Who, I would like to know has a reality or employment that could take a billion dollars in taxes away from them. The commercial is meant to teach people that they may be losing out on a collective total of a billion dollars.
    As far as our prices go, its almost a ridiculous statement to say we rip off our clients. What a lot of people may not understand is that federally certain forms must be filed. The price of these forms fluctuate on the different schedules that are used to complete a specific return. And FYI our prices are competitive. And most of our clients are happy with our pricing and services offered. We spend hours and hours taking classes on new tax laws and learning updates to help our clients from season to season.

  11. Actually your interpretation and statistics are not correct. They are actually referring to the mistakes that people make when they do their own. I, for, one found $30,000 in extra refund for three years by going over the returns they had done themselves. So your $21 is a little off. A simple return is not $152.

  12. I have worked for HRBlock for about 6 years. As a newer preparer, I process a lot of second looks. This is a process where we review tax returns for accuracy. Depending on the type of return, I estimate I find errors on over 70% of the 1040 returns. Form 1040EZ, not too often: 1040A maybe 20 -30 percent of the time. The biggest mistake that people make is not taking deductions or credits that are available to them. For example education credits. Lots of people take a tuition and fees deduction and get a credit that amounts to a couple of hundred dollars in tax savings when they could have taken the American Opportunity Credit that would reduce the tax owed by $2500. That alone would pay for the cost of the return for about 7 years. Many people are not aware that many states offer education credits also. And don’t expect the IRS to help you out. If you make a mistake and you owe them additional money, they will charge you dearly in interest and penalties. If you make a mistake and pay them too much….dead silence.

  13. Let us not forget the money lost if you live in a state that has an income tax, or the interest and penalties that accrue if a return is prepared incorrectly when self prepared.

    1. Also, Lets not forget how many people have heart attacks shoveling their driveways. Mistakes can be costly. That is why we have insurance, or in this case snow removal services, or in the topic at hand, accountants to insure against the more costly mistakes. The point seems to be that accountants at H&R Block or elsewhere can help prepare a more correct tax return and help you avoid problems. As a side, if all 50 million self prepared returns go to a company like H&R Block, pure economic would suggest that preparation prices would be less as these less costly returns from self prepared gets averaged in.
      Just a thought.

  14. I read it. I understand it. There is nothing implied in that ad that you will recieve an “averaged” amount. You are speaking collectively and this is an individual personal refund. I have found numerous mistakes worth thousands of dollars and all during the FREE second look. There are no strings attached to that free product. If you wish to try amending a return already filed or fixing the mistake before filing, that would be up to you. One of my clients went back several years to claim a military credit which was overlooked. This resulted in a substantial amount of money for the three open years and the knowledge that they qualify for this credit in the future. That billion dollars is probably correct but if your mistake cost you $10. of that billion, it’s no big deal. On the other hand, if your mistake is costing you $1000. that would be something you’d want to know about. Right???

  15. Jon, anyone who knows anything about marketing (ads in general) knows that the first goal is to get your attention. Throwing a big number like $1 Billion does that (so does your catchy headline, BTW.) Smart consumers know that – they can see/smell it in all TV and other advertising.

    The next step is to get you to consider “purchasing” the product – whatever that might be. Again, not everyone will buy – for good reason or no reason at all. In the end, it all works out.

    If I have to pay $77 to save $21, I hope i decide NOT to. But if it is $210 or $2100 savings, I certainly should look in to it. Give customers the benefit of the doubt.

  16. Interesting . . . you accuse Block of using numbers to make a disingenuous point, then you proceed to use the same numbers to make an equally disingenuous point. I doubt the people who did there taxes online (with little progressional help) or did their own at home and then came to Block to find that with an amended (corrected) return they got back several thousand dollars would agree with your assertion. I would also bet that those taxpayers who did their own returns only to get an IRS letter 12 months later telling them they now owe thousands plus interest and penalty because they did not know the ins and out of tax law would have preferred to pay for a trained person to complete the return in the first place. There is quite a bit of false advertising on TV these days. Maybe you time and number manipulation would be better spent on some of the truly false claims!

  17. It is not through H & R block consists of very skilled professionals trained in taxation, accountants and CPA’s that do an excellent job to save you the most money in finding all the tax deductibles in your tax returns.

  18. I myself have seen the results of people who use these online free tax preparation programs and people who go to these cheap, fly by night, tax prepares! Most of HNR Blocks , Millions, are made by finding all these other people’s mistakes and finding the most commonly missed deductible credits and expenses that ANY Tax Prepares should know. So, the real question here is do you want to save a few dollars now and have it half done then pay the penalties and fees later plus pay to have it redone by someone who has the extensive knowledge and experience to do it right? Or do you want to go ahead and pay a few extra dollars and not have to worry about it?
    HNR Blocks Tax Prepares are put through VERY extensive training and know what they are doing. When you walk into the office you are paying for the best knowledge and expertise! They work very hard to keep up with every tax code that is out there. They provide you with the most extensive knowledge out there. They stand behind their work and offer assistance if anything should happen as a result of their work!

  19. I am a CPA who has worked for HR Block for a number on years. Sometimes people laugh when I tell them that I like working for Block. I agree that Block is not cheap, but they are also the best in the business. All Block tax pro’s are recertified each year and must attend a minimum of 15 hours of training each fall. This is in addition to the 8 week course you need before being hired. Until a few years ago, just about anyone could sign up for the continuing education. The classes became overloaded with CPA’s, accountants, attorneys and others who wanted continuing Ed., to the point that Block no longer permitted none block employees from enrolling. block also offers dozens of upper level training classes for a number of tax situations. I don’t know if it is still true, but at one time was the largest single employer of CPAs and Enrolled Agents in the US

  20. “If you don’t understand that paying H&R Block to catch your mistakes will cost you more than just letting those mistakes go…”

    If that’s really the advice you would give people, you are a poor excuse for a friend! Any firm that is not prepared accurately and completely is canon fodder for an audit from the IRS. Now, because of your advice, some people will file inaccurate returns and be hit with additional taxes, penalties, and interest by the IRS. I wonderwhat an audit of your returns would turn up? We are allows to go back 3 years to audit and 6 to 10 years for unpaid taxes.

    One last thing, don’t even try to discredit Block preparers. They have way more integrity than someone who recommends people file tax returns with words in them. Shame!

  21. January, 2014 I went to H&R Block for a free ‘look back’ tax review. Their jingle of ‘Nobody gets more of your money back’ is 1000% correct. H&R will get the most of your refund, if not more than your refund! My tax guy, who is the senior finance guy for a major university, charged me $115 last year. The beginning ‘estimate’ the provided based on the look back at H&R was $431!!! Beware!

  22. For many, many years I had H&R Block prepare my taxes and was very relieved that I had competent, educated and honest people doing my taxes. A few years ago I decided I wanted to be one of those people. Block employees goes thru extensive training to learn all the newest updates and laws. We attend classes for over three months each year to be taught the latest laws. In those classes we have had other employees from other tax companies attend because of the extensive training. I noticed there were several positive comments toward Block. YAHOO FOR BLOCK!

  23. People who do their own taxes can make simple mistakes and the IRS will not always contact you immediately. By the time they do, you’ll have to pay penalty and interest for the 1, 2, or 3 years that have passed since you filed that return. If there was an 80 year old woman that was charged $300 for her return, she must have had something more than social security and simple retirement. Most older people are not required to file. I think this story in the comment section is wrong. I’m sure my client from Friday would be happy to tell you that next year, she’ll pay H&R Block to do her taxes. She went to a military post and they did it for free but missed $4,000 of EIC. Even though we can’t tell you the price we will charge beforehand, you are not obligated to pay until we actually send the retur. We tell you the price before you sign your 8879 that authorizes us to file your return. Please do more research before making things up.

  24. HR Block, like other CPA firms, requires minimum education standards each and every year. I sat through 75 hours of classes in order to become an HR Block preparer, and I’ve had over 10 years experience in the tax department of a CPA firm. I educated my clients on something they weren’t aware of on each and every tax return I completed this season. I’ve done returns at HR Block for as little as $90. There’s a 100% guarantee, if you’re not happy with the price, or the advice, or the refund amount – you can walk. How you can call this high level of service a rip off ?

  25. comment byjwilliams was very jnteresting. hqwever he does not have all his factcorrect. Block does not have so called accountants. Blocks tax prepares are TAX PROFESSIONALS. However, some of the tax preparers may be accountants also.
    I would presume it probably is not a large number. an accountants certification is a CPA. The equivalent to a CPA for aTAX PROFESSIONAL is a EA–ENROLLED AGENT. An EA canrepresent a client before the IRS (INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE) the same as tax attorney. Why doesn’t jonwilliams try the HRBLOCK TAX COURSES . He would have a better basis to speak on taxes. Indeed, he certainly would find that our tax year does not end April 15th, but starts again in July and august. also, the exams require a grade of 80 % or better topass the courses

  26. H&RBlock does charge a lot but they always back you and most of the preparer study hard and do a great job.

  27. Another article with questionable statistic usage at best. The author uses averages, which don’t mean anything to the individual taxpayer. Each situation is unique. He also ignores the H&R Block offer to review a completed return for free to determine whether there are any mistakes. Since there is no charge for this analysis, the taxpayer can then make the decision to amend or not depending on cost and benefit to them. Doesn’t sound like a rip off. Please check facts in the future and try to write more informed articles.

  28. Having experience with H&R Block. I just like to say that they try to help all their clients receive the max back on their return. They train their employees extensively and their motto is not to overcharge the clients but to get paid what we’re worth for getting the clients thw most out of their tax year. To get back all they can from what they already put into the system. And Block also teaches people to do their taxes on their own if they would like by offering classes. Yes they have to pay but how are the instructors going to be paid? I’ve noticed the company actually cares about its clients and thats why I come back.

  29. I’VE worked for HRBlock for 7 years now. I’m a retired engineer and I do it to keep my mide sharp and to help people avoid trouble with the IRS. To qualify for this part-time job, I spent literally hundreds of hours studying tax rules and updates. The main article suggests we are over paid for doing tax returns. I don’t think so. Our average fee charged is $77 per return, as stated. What I personally get averages $10 per return plus 13% of the fee, or a total of $20. Since it takes an average of one hour to complete a typical return, that’s $20 per hour. But wait, I don’t do a return every hour I’m in the office. There’s all sorts of other duties I am required to due like file the return, maintain records, answer client questions, etc. I actually average about three and a half returns per 8 hour work day. So, I net only about $70 per work day, or $8.75 per hour, bearly above minimum wage. And you say I over charge?

  30. If the dollar amount of the refund is less than the dollar cost of filing the return, HRB will not file the return but will advise the client to find someone, perhaps a family member, to prepare the return. Lacking that, AARP has volunteers that will complete a return without cost. In addition, the IRS has a program called VITA, volunteer income tax assistance. The volunteers in this program are trained by the IRS and evaluated at IRS expense . And all at no cost to the taxpayer.

  31. I’ve worked for blocked for 8 years and if you’re taxes do get complicated, please ask for someone with years of experience to do your taxes. Don’t go to a first year tax pro.

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