Tax | Taxation

H&R Block: Here they go again

Stop The MACPA's own Richard Rabicoff has been doing some thinking lately about H&R Block's latest tax season ads. In this guest post, he writes what all of us at the MACPA have been thinking lately.

It seems to happen almost every other tax season. Around about January, H&R Block starts taking pot shots at CPAs in its TV and radio advertising. The ads portray CPAs as dullards at best or incompetents at worst. Evidently, only the tax geniuses at H&R Block can rescue taxpayers from the morass that CPAs have helped to create.

MACPA members have called this to our attention and we are pleased to say that CPAs never take this lying down. This year, as in the past, the AICPA’s Barry Melancon has sent a letter to H&R Block CEO Russ Smyth, requesting that the company discontinue these ads immediately. The AICPA is currently awaiting the response and we will let MACPA members know what happens. We have reason to expect that Smyth, like his predecessor, will discontinue the ads.

It’s hard to say what H&R Block has to gain by disparaging CPAs. In fact, on their Web site, they even reach out to CPAs as partners: "If you're a CPA who's already operating a CPA practice, we still have great opportunities to offer you," it reads. "Let us show you all the advantages of making your CPA practice part of the H&R Block Tax & Business Services family."

If a client or friend mentions the H&R Block commercials, you might keep in mind some of the talking points developed by the AICPA to address such comments.

CPAs are honest, skilled, and competent tax professionals. CPAs have college degrees, they pass rigorous exams, they are committed to continuing professional education, and they are certified, licensed and regulated by state boards of accountancy. CPAs are required to pass a rigorous professional exam after they complete their college education in order to be licensed by the states in which they practice. After they are licensed, mandatory continuing professional education requirements ensure that CPAs are current with regulatory and legal changes. As members of the AICPA and state CPA societies, CPAs are required to adhere to strict professional ethics standards. Additional ethics rules apply to CPAs who are tax practitioners. If the IRS raises a question about a tax return, only CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents are authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. CPA tax professionals often know a lot about your personal situation, so the continuity of service you receive from a CPA may be an important factor to consider.  CPAs are business people in the community who will be there for taxpayers year after year. The MACPA is committed to ensuring that CPAs work in the public interest by providing the resources to best hone skills of CPA tax professionals and by regulating unacceptable professional conduct while advocating on behalf of the public and members an effective and efficient system of taxation.

The MACPA fully supports AICPA's efforts to call H&R Block out on these tasteless and inaccurate commercials. We will keep our members apprised of any further developments.


Bill Sheridan