Personal Finance, Saving Money, Taxes

H&R Block Get Your Billion Dollars Back Tax Scam

HR Block get your billion back scam
You’ve probably seen the commercials. H&R Block has been running advertisements this year telling everyone that they can get to listen that American taxpayers are giving $1 billion to the IRS that’s really their money — and all because they’re doing their own taxes instead of letting H&R Block do their taxes for them. H&R Block wants you to “Get Your Billions Back” since you are leaving so much money on the table.

To emphasize that huge $1 billion amount which isn’t being claimed, they are running a number of different commercials to show how much money that $1 billion is. One is where they have a concessionaire placing $500 on every seat in every stadium in the US:

Another shows pallets piled high with money on an aircraft carrier, then pushing one over the edge for dramatic affect:

What both these commercials do is lead you to believe is that by doing your own taxes, you’re making huge mistakes that could be costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars that you would be yours if you just let H&R Block do your taxes instead. They are using your fears of losing money doing your own taxes to try and convince you to let them do your taxes. It’s a good strategy on their part that happens to be a con game to make you fear you’re losing a ton of money doing your own taxes when in reality you’re not.

While they are hoping that you make the assumption that you’re losing $500 or more (like the amount they place on the stadium seats), the truth is that it’s likely you aren’t losing any money doing your own taxes. If you are losing money, it’s a whole lot less than the commercials imply. How do we know? Simply run the numbers.

There are over 50 million families that do their own taxes. That means that if all the families that are doing their own returns aren’t claiming $1 billion worth of deductions that they could claim, each family is failing to claim a little less than $20 each on their returns. Yes, that’s right. If you are doing your own taxes, on average you’re failing to claim about $20. Why don’t they say this in their commercials? Because they know perfectly well if they did, nobody would go to H&R Block to get their taxes done.

Still, $20 is $20, so why not have H&R Block find you that extra $20? A good question until you realize how much they charge to do your tax return. In 2013, H&R Block charged the average person just under $200 ($198) to do their taxes. If you do the math, you might save $20 from the IRS, but you end up losing $178 out of your own pocket to H&R block. All of a sudden, it doesn’t sound like such a great deal.

It gets even worse. If you read the fine print in the commercials, it says that a study shows that H&R Block is able to find savings for about 1 in 5 people who do their own taxes. That’s right. You need to pay nearly $200 for a 20% chance of getting a bit of savings from them. On the other hand, if they are only finding 1 in 5 people that can get a greater refund, that means the refund for those that they can find it for increases from $20 to $100. Of course, since you are paying nearly $200 for them to do your taxes, you are still coming out $100 behind by letting them do your taxes.

What this all says is that the “Get Your Billion Back” commercials are an extremely deceptive advertising campaign to make you think you’re losing a lot of money by doing your own taxes when in reality, you’re not. All you need to do is run the numbers, and they will tell you that you’ll likely spend much more of your own money getting your taxes done by H&R Block than you would if you did them yourself.

12 thoughts on “H&R Block Get Your Billion Dollars Back Tax Scam

  1. Good points!

    Another point is that if you go to HR block, what you are likely to get is an average Joe who got a course on how to use their software. You won’t get a seasoned tax expert.

    So you can get the same result by buying tax software and punching in numbers yourself.

    Our taxes are a bit complex and multi-state, so we simply don’t trust the level of expertise of an average worker in those places. So DH does taxes by himself, twice — one time with tax software, and one time without, to see if results match.

  2. Good catch. The commercials make it seem like those who do their own taxes are losing a lot more than that.

  3. H&R Block will look at any tax return filed the last three years for FREE to see if you made a mistake. And let me tell you some people have made some huge mistakes. And the service was free, dude. So maybe do your homework a little deeper next time. Some education credits are almost $2,000 missed! For a free look, you wouldn’t want that back?

  4. Actually, you just proved my point. Never let H&R Block do your taxes initially because they’ll charge you $200 for them. Do them on your own and if you aren’t sure, take them to H&R block afterward. Chances are they won’t find anything and you won’t have to pay a dime and if they do, then you’re only paying for what they do find.

  5. yeah, but it’s too bad that a lot of people are idiots who can’t do their own taxes correctly and unfortunately need H&R

  6. I took an H&R tax course about 15 years ago. I scored very high on my class results although I never used it to do other’s taxes for pay other than my sons. But taking the class did give me more confidence in doing my taxes as they got more and more complicated.

    The first year I was married, my husband at the time insisted we hire a tax guy he used every year to do the taxes (this was in the late 70’s before computers and home tax software). Well this tax guy gave us our taxes back and I immediately noted a math error that would have lost us $100. From that point on I charged my husband $100 to do the taxes since I figured if he was willing to pay someone to do them I would do them right and be happy to take the first $100 of the refund as fun money for me. I also did our last filing when we divorced. Several years later, he got a letter from the IRS saying we owed something on the order of $4000! He called me and said he had his tax man look at the letter and he said we owed so Mr. ex said I had to pony up around $2000. Since I had the copies of all our tax paperwork and ‘his’ tax guy didn’t, I had no clue what he was basing his conclusion that we owed the money on. So I had ex bring over the letter. and within 45 minutes I had solved the whole problem. Our bank had neglected to send in a copy of our mortgage interest to the IRS and the IRS also said we hadn’t paid the early withdrawal fee for cashing in my IRA (for the needed temporary finances to live on post divorce)which was very obviously on the tax return! So at this point we are Gailete: 2 Tax guys: 0. Then a few years back I got a different software program for doing taxes. It was clunky and weird and we came up owing several thousand and it just didn’t look right, so I ‘invested’ another pocketful of money in another brand’s software and did the taxes using the identical numbers and we came out thousands ahead and in the ball park that I thought we would be in.

    In conclusion: I don’t use tax guys. I stay up to date and read everything I can that has anything to do with our tax situation and I use the same brand tax software every year. This is with two different businesses, a rental property, a home mortgage and huge medical bills, etc. I feel more confident because as I go through the forms, the questions can help tweak a memory of the ‘oh yeah we spent money on that’ kind.

    I appreciated my tax course and I’m glad that I can do my own taxes. I try each year to improve my record keeping since I’m not in the best of health and the better the record keeping, the easier it is to do the taxes. I have mine done already, they just need printed out and the money scrounged together as we owe more than I was expecting this year, but that is because we made more this year than I was expecting, which I guess is a good thing.:) I’m not scared to do my taxes, I’m scared to let someone else do them though.

  7. True. Not everyone is losing Money but I know my cousin did her own takes and her father helped her. In doing so, they came up with owing almost $2,000. They went to H&R Block and they filed her taxes for her and she ended up getting over $1,500. That $200 she spent at H&R Block earned her over $3,000. It’s true. Not everyone needs to go to a tax Pro to get their taxes done. Most Americans have little or no exemptions to claim. If you live at Mom’s or in an apartment, single, no kids, ride your bike to work, etc. then YEA, do your own taxes. However, if you Own a Home, Donate to Charity, Have Kids, Own a business, Do Side jobs, Pay Child support/Alimony, Bought a Brand New car (esp. if it’s a hybrid), made updates to your home (esp. cost saving items like new insulated windows and doors, new water heater, A/C, Furnace, etc.), Go get help. If not from H&R Block, from another tax pro.

    Every year I do my own taxes first, Then I take in all my paperwork into H&R Block. They always find me at least another $500. Most years it’s over $1000. That, for me, is an easy $350 to spend.

  8. You make some stupid point dimwit

    H&R claims they will check your taxes for FREE and only if you can get more refund I assume they will pitch the amendment.
    Where you ever able to get a lottery ticket for FREE and see if it was the winner and if not just walk out the door, no harm done. Yeah right, NO, I thought so.

    I still don’t like H&R because their service is dreadful, but income tax preparers are not all to blame.
    You pay if you need the service or
    How about the oil change scam or the barber scam or the gardener scam ?? you can do all those yourself and save money , right?
    SO, no , your witty comparisons do not apply and are wrong.

  9. Your point that you pay only for what they find is incorrect. If they find anything, they will tell you the amount you are losing, and if you want them to do your taxes, you pay for the full amount of a return, i.e. at least $299.

    They do charge a bit much in my opinion, because they charge for anything input entry they made. If a numebr goes to a worksheet (whether it gets used or not) you pay. Goes on a form, you pay. There is no set price based on a filing status.

  10. Your entire comment is based on your interaction with ONE tax guy, which appears to be lacking a bit of knowledge, either from lack of training, failure to learn in the first place, and probably not a qualified tax professional since you noted it was guy your husband knew. It is not a fair comparison to classify all tax professionals into your onyl interaction with a “tax guy”. Glad you found the problems, (it is rather easy), and didnt have to pay the additional $$, but again caution on your stereotypes.

  11. Nika,

    Learn who is at HRB doing taxes and what they actually teach in their tax school prior to commenting about something that is not correct. They do not teach the software in the tax school (not at all actually). That is not done until you accept employment. The comment that you will not receive a tax expert is rather annoying also. While there are some new employees (1-3 yrs experience), each HRB office usually has at least Enrolled Agent. It you do not know what that is, it is the highest qualification extended by the IRS and even allows that individual to professional represent someone in from on any US Court on tax issues. This is a big deal and a lot of training, so there are a lot of experts at the offices. HRB also would not assign a new preparer to someone with a complex return, because if you take the Peace of Mind gurantee, HRB is held liable for any mistakes on the return, up to $5000. You only need to ask for the seasoned tax expert when you enter an office and you will receive. An appointment might be necessary so call in advance.

  12. Seriously… H&R’s ads infuriated me. They only ran them during… how do I say this gently… shows that have a “less educated” viewership. You didn’t see them next to a Mercedes and Investment ads.

    I think they are really trying to capitalize on this country’s current vitriol towards the government. Yeah! Get that Billion back from those dirty government pigs!! Yeah!! Oh… and pay H&R a ton more for the honor and privilege of sticking it to the man.

    /give me a break!

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