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Smackdown! Tax prep companies duel over ads

Jackson Hewitt sues H&R Block over commercials offering to fix mistakes in past returns.

By Kay Bell Feb 2, 2011 2:42PM

H&R Block has been hitting the airwaves this filing season touting the ability of its offices to get taxpayers money back that they overpaid in earlier tax years.


Dubbed the Second Look Review, the Kansas City, Mo.-based tax preparation giant says that its analyses of previously filed tax returns find mistakes in the majority of those old 1040s.


Now I've watched these H&R Block ads, mainly because I'm fascinated by the poor woman who runs a small business and apparently overpaid the IRS by more than $5,000.


Sure she points out the obvious, that numbers are not her thing. But really? Five grand? She couldn't have gotten some tax software and saved herself at least some of that tax bill? 


As I recall, this woman doesn't say who did her prior return. In fact, I got the impression that she screwed it up all on her own. Again, lady, software!


In fact, I don't recall hearing any other company specifically named in the TV spots.


But then, I might have just missed the finger-pointing. Apparently, Jackson Hewitt Tax Services didn't.


The country's number two tax preparation company says the H&R Block ads are "false, misleading and highly disparaging" and Jackson Hewitt executives want them off the air.


The Parsippany, N.J., tax prep firm has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to force the commercials' immediate removal.


Is this a great country or what?


He said, he said


"We intend to pursue every avenue available to us to stop their campaign of misinformation," Jackson Hewitt CEO Philip H. Sanford said in a statement.

"This lawsuit was filed without any requests for substantiation," said H&R Block in its own statement.


Now I'm not sure what H&R Block is saying here. Is the company implying that if Jackson Hewitt wants to get down and dirty, Block will be happy to spill the beans on who exactly screwed up just exactly how many tax returns and how badly?


I've gotta say it again, is this a great country or what?


You can read more about the lawsuit and the "Are, too! Nuh-uh" exchanges in Forbes' publication of the  AP article and in the Reuters story published by


My favorite take, however, comes from the accounting blog Going Concern. That always entertaining and informative online financial news source sums up the situation in one of the best headlines ever.


More from Don't Mess with Taxes and MSN Money:


Feb 2, 2011 9:40PM

I gotta say as a tax pro for one of these companies - it really is the person not the company.   I have been a tax pro for 10 years and have seen silly mistakes from both!   This year does seem to take the cake though... a pro from the opposite company missed one of my client's deductions and cost her 1000.00, and gave her bad advice on common law marriage.


My advice?  Find some one you are comfortable with, and make sure you double check their info until you KNOW you can trust them.

Feb 3, 2011 6:39AM

evidently Jackson-hewitt hasn't figured out that at the end of the day, the lawyer always wins, no matter who loses! their claim is lame and bogus! only in america where both the winner and loser pays!!!!!

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