In 2014, which was last year, H&R Block had a massive ad campaign during tax season which featured Richard Gartland in a green bow tie. Gartland was on several H & R Block commercials saying that last year, all of the 56,000,000 Americans who did their tax returns left $1 billion "on the table". This led to the slogan of "Get your Billion back America". Now, in 2015, some variations of the same advertisement are playing, except it ends with the slogan of "Get your Billions back America".
That is "billions" plural, which means it is more than one, which is at least two. This cannot be correct, and there are so many reasons why consumers and tax-paying Americans should not except this ad campaign at face value, and are truly being lied to by H&R Block.
The first problem with this campaign is that H&R Block should not have any accurate number for the amount of money that is left on the table. Considering that tax forms are secret, and a payment or refund is figured out by the IRS, how is it possible that H&R Block can make such a grand estimation, or any estimation whatsoever? Maybe there is some secret government agency that knows how much taxpayers should get back, but just keeps its mouth shut as tax-payers pay up without protest. Clearly, H&R Block has some "in" with this agency.
All conspiracy theories aside, chances are H&R Block just did the math, and they did it like a kid who does a story problem, botching the proper equations and ending up with huge results. Michael Eisen on his blog "It is Not Junk" states that $1 billion is an average of less than $20 back per return of the 56,000,000 Americans that pay taxes. I am willing to concede that H&R Block took figures from what their clients had figured out, and then compared it to their own personal calculations. If they took a sample of 50, and discovered an average return of $20, then they just applied the math and just ran with that magical billion dollar product.
The second problem is how this number jumped from billion to billions in the space of a year. Billions implies at least 2 billion, which means that last year, Americans each received an average of $40 for a refund (this implies that the population sample remains the same, which it most certainly didn't). Again, there is no way that H & R Block can know this number, but to double it in the space of a year is nothing short of false advertising. Even H&R Block doesn't boast in these ads that they did their job that well.
I walked past H&R Block one day and stopped by to ask them about this ad campaign. I asked the receptionist about how tax-payers can leave 1 billion back one year and get billions back the following one. The receptionist told me right away: "it is just a gimmick".
About Money reports that it costs an average of $198 to have H&R Block do your taxes, which makes for a pretty miserable return at nine cents for every dollar spent. So not only is H&R Block promising "money on the table" that they cannot possibly put a dollar value on, they fully intend to take some of it.
Now I will be honest with you and say that I use H&R Block's tax preparation software for my taxes, and it works pretty well. However, I have to ignore what the guy in the green bowtie says, and I highly recommend tax-payers do the same before the campaign changes to "get your trillion back America". Definitely start a protest against H&R Block if it changes to "get your trillions back" the following year.