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Update on my H&R Block experience
Old 11-14-2010, 07:29 PM   #1
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Update on my H&R Block experience

A little over 2 years ago I started this topic -
H&R Block Tax prep course advice

I would have just updated there but replies are no longer allowed.

I just emailed my District Manager to let her know that I'm not coming back this year. All in all, it's been a positive experience. I learned a lot about taxes and myself. I also learned that I have no feel for marketing and promotion. It felt good to be helping people with their taxes. I loved the number crunching and I was pretty good at the whole thing. I developed people skills that I didn't know I had.

What it comes down to at this point is that I just don't want to work a 2nd part-time job. The past 2 years I worked 3 evenings and 1 day on the weekend during the tax season and never made more than the basic hourly wage of $8/hr. The pay is a draw against commissions and I never made more than my draw. The idea is that if you do enough returns and bring in enough new business your commissions will exceed your draw and you get a "bonus" at the end of the season. In two years at my small office I worked with one tax pro who was earning the bonus and she was in her 5th year. Everyone else was just earning the hourly rate.

There are 2-3 weeks in late Jan and early Feb that are busy and the office is packed and everyone works on returns all day. Then it drops off and it can be dead quiet for the rest of Feb and most of March. I worked in a small office which they permanently closed at the end of the season and combined all the tax pros into a nearby office.

Maybe I had a typical experience, maybe not. I know there is a high turnover in the early years.

Anyway, my reason for working as a tax pro was that we were expecting my husband to lose his job and I needed something from this century (I had been a SAHM since 1984 until I started working as a School Crossing Guard) to put on my resume if I needed to work to support us.

Well, the BIG SCARY THING (DH's job loss) did happen in Jan 2010 and he retired in June, 2010 and his retirement has worked out better than we expected. I'm still working as a Crossing Guard and enjoying it and I went ahead and took 3 H&R Block Tax Courses in preparation for working the 2011 tax season. But my heart's just not in it. It's a lot of time, work and responsibility for very little pay and I just don't feel the urge to work a 2nd part time job.

The company has some strong points and some weak points. The training and technical support are excellent. Most of the people are smart, helpful and sincere. I felt like I was part of a good team.

The weak areas are that it's becoming easier for taxpayers to do their own returns for free online or to buy software and do their own returns. Block even has it's own consumer software which cuts into it's own business of a storefront office with trained tax professionals paid a low hourly wage. The high prices kept some clients from returning.

So, I'm done. I have the two seasons and all the classes to put on a resume if needed but for now I'm content with the simplicity of the rest of my life and I don't need the complications of a low paying extra job.

Married, both 64. DH retired June, 2010. I have a pleasant little part time job.
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Old 11-14-2010, 07:32 PM   #2
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Thanks for the update Sue.

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Old 11-14-2010, 07:49 PM   #3
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Sue good to hear it was an overall positive.
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:51 PM   #4
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Yes, very nice summary Sue. Thank you.

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Old 11-15-2010, 08:40 AM   #5
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You may want to look into the IRS VITA volunteer tax preparer program. Several organizations sponsor programs supported by the IRS. I volunteer at an Air Force base doing returns for service members and retirees. I know AARP is a sponsor as well. Volunteering will keep your resume fresh in case your situation changes as well.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:45 AM   #6
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Thanks for the update. I'm going into my fourth tax season with Block and being retired and doing it to get out of the house and make a little money at the same time, I thoroughly enjoy it. I think as with any job it is what you make of it. I work in a fairly busy office and complete about two hundred plus returns a season and have a pretty decent client retention. Seeing some of the same people year after year is like seeing an old friend. I kind of look at the job as being in business for myself and it is entirely up to me how much effort I want to put into growing my client base. I don't feel a lot of pressure to push Block settlement products but only to put the information out there so the client can make a good informed decision. I think they have some very good products such as their Second Look, where people can have a tax pro review their completed return for errors and at the same time get the standard guarantee. Also the office I work at has very little turn over and we have a great core group with a lot of tax knowledge, we have some retired CPAs as well as a number of EAs, so if a question arises it is pretty easy to get an answer.

All and all I enjoy what I do and when it ceases to fun, I'll find something else if I like. As far as the money goes, with my bonus I probably average around $12 an hour, which isn't bad working part time and on my own terms. One of the best things about working for Block is keeping up with the tax law changes and taking as many tax courses as you want during the off season.

On the other hand If I had to work a regular 9-5 full time job and then go into the office and do tax preparation, I would find it difficult. My hat is off to those that do just that.
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:32 PM   #7
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I am currently planning on working for Liberty this tax season. I took the block course 2 years ago, aced the mid term and final, and interviewed, but no one assigned me to a store. I soured on Block as being too corporate, and now I am planning to try it with Liberty.

From day 1 liberty assigned me to a store (each store has an owner, where as some block stores are owned by corporate) and my pay rate is $8/hr plus 6% commission. Avg return is $200, so 6% of that is $12, so $20/hr if I get 1 return per hour, and $32/hr if I get 2 returns done per hour.

If things at Liberty go well, I might purchase a franchise or two as a way to make even more money, but not ready for that now (yet).
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:19 PM   #8
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Thanks for posting and I am glad the DHs retirement is working out.
The volunteer VITA tax prep recommendation is a good one. I did it one season.

My experiene working with H&R Block last year matches yours pretty well.
I worked for a franchise owner. Pretty enthusiastic owners and a stable work force. Some ladys (mostly ladys) have been working there for 35 years.

I decided to come back for a second year even though it was made clear to me that the workload would be low. They are training me and like Frayne says "it gets me out of the house". Can't imagine how it is paying them to have me work for so few hours but maybe things will pick up next year.

Tax preparation is not a growth industry but there will always be taxes because of the obvious and it is the govts way to control citizen / corporate behavior. A friend of mine sold his tax business because he thought that the govt would be doing your taxes for you. That was 8 years ago. Seems plausable but I am not concerned about it happening in the near future. Tax books with changes for the coming year will be later than usual because of lack of Congressional consensus.

Liberty seems like an up and coming concept. Good to work for I bet. Hard to be upbeat about the other chain tax preparers.

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