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Description

H&R Block, Inc., or H&R Block, is an American tax preparation company operating in Canada, the United States, and Australia. The company was founded in 1955 by brothers Henry W. Bloch and Richard Bloch.

As of 2018, H&R Block operates approximately 12,000 retail tax offices staffed by tax professionals worldwide. It also offers consumer tax software as well as online tax preparation and electronic filing from their website. The Kansas City–based company also offers payroll, and business consulting services.

History

Founding

During World War II, Henry W. Bloch was a young Army Air Forces navigator who wanted to start a family business with his brothers in Kansas City. Home from the war in 1946, Henry saw a pamphlet suggesting a bright future for companies serving small businesses, and it sparked his imagination. That year, Henry and his older brother, Leon, borrowed $5,000 and opened a small bookkeeping business on Main Street in downtown Kansas City. However, four months later, they had few clients and Leon decided to seek a law degree.

Henry wanted to keep trying with the fledgling business and placed a newspaper advertisement for help-wanted. He got an unexpected response—from his mother—who proposed that Henry hire his younger brother, Richard, for the job. Henry and Richard Bloch jointly ran their United Business Company, which focused on accounting, bookkeeping and payroll, but also did some income tax work for clients. The brothers took out an ad for its $5 tax services in The Kansas City Star newspaper in 1955. The ad was a success and H&R Block was born. The Bloch brothers chose to spell the name "Block" with a K to ensure the name is not mispronounced "blotch".

Recent history

H&R Block acquired MECA Software, a 1980s PFM company that created the TaxCut software, in 1993. In 1995, H&R Block sold MECA, but retained TaxCut.

The company began to expand in the 1990s into the financial services arena, offering mortgage loans, banking and business services. H&R Block purchased Olde Discount Stockbrokers in 1999 and operated as a full-service securities broker-dealer under the name H&R Block Financial Advisors. In 2008, the company sold its H&R Block Financial Advisors unit to Ameriprise Financial for $315 million. At the time, the unit managed $30 billion in assets and employed 900 financial advisors in the U.S.

RSM McGladrey Business Solutions was created in 1999 when H&R Block acquired the assets of McGladrey & Pullen, aside from its auditors and attest services which remained under ownership of McGladrey's partners. Following the acquisition H&R Block became the sixth-largest accounting firm in the U.S. McGladrey had 100 offices in 25 states and offered accounting, consulting, tax services, and international business services to mid-sized companies. Through an alliance with McGladrey & Pullen and other accountancies, the Block subsidiary operated in 70 countries under the RSM International name. In 2011, H&R Block sold the unit back to McGladrey & Pullen.

H&R Block hired Jeff Jones, a former Target Corporation and Uber executive, as president and CEO on October 9, 2017. He replaced Tom Gerke, who was interim CEO following the retirement of former CEO Bill Cobb. Jones has said he sees H&R Block as a financial services company and a retail company, and aims to grow the company.

H&R Block started its first Global Technology Center in India in October 2017. This was created with the vision to grow H&R Block's Product Engineering and IT Solutions Development platforms. It is located in Technopark, Trivandrum, Kerala.

H&R Block announced in June 2019 that it would acquire Wave Financial, a Canadian financial technology company offering bookkeeping, accounting, and payroll services for small businesses. H&R Block acquired Wave for US$405 million (C$537 million). Wave operates as an independent subsidiary by Wave CEO Kirk Simpson from Toronto, Ontario.

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