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Tax filings dipped at H&R Block in chaotic season

Updated: 2013-04-26T04:19:52Z

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

H&R Block Inc. said Thursday it handled slightly fewer tax returns in the season just completed than it had a year ago.

Block handled 22.04 million returns compared with 22.23 million a year ago, a decline of 0.9 percent.

Business fell partly because of fewer total filings with the Internal Revenue Service this year than had been expected, the company’s statement said. It also cited changes in its free federal form 1040EZ promotion compared with a year ago.

Block said its share of total U.S. tax returns prepared this year was “essentially flat” compared with a year ago.

“The industry experienced unprecedented delays and changes to the timing of taxpayer filings this tax season, which created significant challenges,” Block chief executive Bill Cobb said in the statement.

The IRS had delayed when it would accept tax returns because of tax law changes Congress enacted as part of its last-minute budget deal to avoid what was called the fiscal cliff.

Intuit Inc., maker of TurboTax products, also cited a decline in IRS filings in a statement Thursday.

Intuit reduced its forecast profits and sales for the final months of the tax season when it, like Block, makes most of its money. Intuit shares fell 11 percent.

Block shares fell 19 cents and finished at $28.03 before it reported its reduced tax volumes. The stock has risen more than 50 percent since the start of the year.

Additional details and the company’s year-ending financial results will be available June 12, Block’s announcement said.

Block said its digital customers — those using Block’s software and online services — increased by nearly 5 percent.

Block said 2.8 percent fewer customers came into Block offices for tax-preparation work this tax season.

The company suffered some customer backlash in March when an electronic filing problem linked to a tax credit for education expenses began to delay thousands of customers’ tax refunds. Block said Wednesday it was sending those customers $25 prepaid debit cards and letters of apology.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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