Lots of CPAs are upset by H & R Block’s current advertising campaign. In a few ads, they take blatant pot shots at CPAs’ accuracy in preparing tax returns.
These ads upset me too. I’ve spent most of my career working with CPAs and advocating for the value, knowledge & insights CPAs provide, as well as CPAs’ tremendous public service.
The AICPA has asked H & R Block to pull the ads and we’re told H&R Block has responded that they’ll reevaluate the ad series. But we can also use this as an opportunity to boost the public’s already high opinion of CPAs.
In national surveys, CPAs have consistently ranked among the most trusted and respected financial professionals. So we don’t have to defend CPAs’ credentials so much as reinforce why a CPA is the best professional for the job.
An Akron Beacon Journal reporter nailed it two years ago when she pointed out the advantages she gained in using a CPA for her own taxes. She also did them herself, and used H & R Block for comparison.
Her experience with the CPA was the least expensive and required less time, yielding the largest return. The CPA found more qualifying credits and an additional $800 she could claim through amended prior-year returns. She summarized the experience as a “good checkup that put her on the right path.”
Her experience with H & R Block? Not so good.
The preparer didn’t ask the right questions for her situation. The fees were higher, her federal refund was lower, she ended up owing on her state return, and the process required more visits to the H&R Block office. Although she was paying for expert advice, she didn’t feel she received it.
At The Ohio Society of CPAs, our goal is to steer the public toward developing a year-round relationship with a CPA, not just at tax time. The benefits of looking on financial management as a year-round necessity, not just a tax-time task, are more important today than they’ve ever been. We reinforce this in all of our consumer communications. And the media recognizes the CPA profession’s expertise because they call on us to provide CPAs for interviews and to answer consumer tax questions, not the other guys.
Visit our Tax Headquarters to see how we’re positioning CPAs to the public. And e-mail Amy Johnson at the OSCPA for talking points you can use to encourage everyone you know to use a CPA rather than a preparer who isn’t licensed, receives minimal training, and is paid an hourly wage to prepare returns just four months out of the year.
If you want a first-hand view of the training and compensation for H & R Block tax preparers, see this blog series from The Virtual CFO. It was written by a CPA who considered working there before he earned his CPA.
The proof is in the returns.