H&R Block Brings Expertise to Tax Time

The Hacienda office of H&R Block, located at 4747 Hopyard Road, opened for "tax season" on January 3 and will grow to a staff of about 25 by the time the season ends on April 17. During that time they will prepare tax returns for a broad cross-section of area residents.

"We prepare a wide variety of tax returns, explains Debbie Deacon, H&R Block district manager, "from lower income with simple tax preparation needs to higher income with very complex tax situations. And we have the staff to match each customer with a tax professional that has the required level of expertise."

More complex forms require more experienced tax professionals. The staff of the Hacienda office includes a variety of experienced and knowledgeable tax professionals, each certified by the State of California. Continuing education ensures that employees stay abreast of changing tax law and have an opportunity to expand their knowledge into new areas.

H&R Block has its roots in a bookkeeping company started in the early 1950s by Henry Bloch in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1955, with his brother Richard, he formed a new company, H&R Block Inc. that specialized exclusively in tax return preparation, a move that proved to be perfectly timed to take advantage of the fact the IRS was ending its practice of filling out tax returns at no charge for anyone who came into a local IRS office.

Steady growth over the next 50 years included a number of industry innovations. In 1956 the company introduced franchise offices. In 1965 it created a school to train tax preparers, and in 1980 H&R Block acquired CompuServe, enabling it to connect its 8676 offices in its own network. In 1986, working in conjunction with the IRS, the company pioneered electronic tax filing. Last year H&R Block prepared one out of every seven U.S. tax returns, filing nearly 95% of them electronically.

For people who want to prepare their own returns, the company offers its Taxcut software. Customers can also prepare their taxes online at hrblock.com, with or without the help of H&R Block tax pros. H&R Block is the only tax company that offers tax solutions that include or blend in-person, software, and online services.

H&R Block services have grown beyond just tax preparation. The company now offers financial services that include brokerage services, annuities, mutual funds, IRAs, and accounting and tax services for small businesses.

"We are really trying to focus on client service and advice," Deacon explains. "We want to do more than just prepare your tax return. We want to talk to you about next year, about your financial future. We want to be more of a financial partner. That's really where we're going. That's where we see there's a need."

H&R Block has 98 financial centers and more than 9,000 tax offices in the United States, as well as 1,000 offices in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Photo: H&R Block's Leslie Morgan, left, helps client Colin Wheeler with his 2005 tax return.

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