H&R Block is in panic mode, entering what it calls First Peak --the flurry of business set in motion by the arrival of W-2s for those tax clients who usually plan to pay Febuary's child support with their tax refund-- without the ability to offer refund anticipation loans, a key component to getting lower-middle class asses in seats across from a tax professional.
In response, they've wasted tons of cash on a recently-launched marketing campaign, targeting taxpayers who will almost certainly use Jackson Hewitt or Liberty Tax that they can get their return done for free:
The Devil is in the fine print, however:
"You qualify for the free return if your filing status is Single or Married Filing Jointly, you have no dependents/children, you don't itemize, you have no mortgage payment, you have taxable income of less than $40,000, you can identify the first assistant conductor of The State Symphony Orchestra of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, your last name contains an umlaut, your phone number ends with an even number, you have a ticket stub from the Bahawal Stadium, a cricket ground in Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan, and you are older than your tax professional (HA!). If not, H&R Block's incredibly expensive schedule of standard rates apply."
Now, H&R Block has followed up their bullsh-t "Free 1040 Scam" with a television commercial that involves gritty, handicam-filed, gonzo-style imagery, a group of real people, and construction workers trying to knock down a building with a big, pink, fluffy stuffed bunny.
"This is what it's like to get your tax return done at H&R Block," the voice-over booms as the fluffy bunny smacks into the wall.
"That's what I feel like when I ask my Tax Professional for a price quote before sitting through an entire tax interview," says one onlooker.
(Bunny smacks against the wall.)
"I know. I called to ask about Refund anticipation loans, and my tax professional said that they are evil and will give me cancer," responds another.
"Mine told me that getting my return done at Jackson Hewitt was a felony."
H&R Block's 11,000 offices, most of them in gritty strip malls next to check cashing businesses and beer distributors, will be open until April 18th, when they will be shuttered and unused until the process begins anew in 2012, under the name "H&R Block: Powered By Turbotax".