Bill Cobb, CEO of H&R Block, used an open letter to call out TurboTax tax software commercials for taking cheap shots at his company, plumbers and other workers. One of the commercials shows a master plumber working under a kitchen sink when the plumber recognizes the home owner as one of his tax customers. Another ad shows a retail worker in a clothing store greeting a customer and saying that she did that customer's taxes the previous week at the tax store. The retail worker/tax preparer says she is an expert with tax returns "especially after the holidays."
The implication is that a master plumber or retail worker can't also be a tax expert, and H&R Block hires thousands (if not tens of thousands) of temporary tax agents to handle the influx of work that comes during the four months of income tax season each year. These individuals are trained and sign off on tax returns, but may have other jobs during the rest of the year - which is not to say that many don't have a financial background.
Last month, H&R Block turned to a district court to try to get the commercials taken off the air, claiming that Intuit’s TurboTax ads were misleading. The judge disagreed, saying that there was a perhaps some truth to the ads and that they weren't "literally false".
In retaliation, H&R Block then started running its own ad, which asked the question, "Why is TurboTax insulting our 90,000 tax professionals?" and pointed out that Block tax pros sign their names on the tax forms they prepare, but getting a signed tax return is not possible if you use TurboTax tax software. The commercial does not mention that this is also the case with H&R Block At Home tax software, unless the customer uses the Best of Both service which combines tax software with a tax pro to look over the return, sign it and file it with the IRS.
According to MarketWatch, H&R Block will continue to pursue legal means of block the TurboTax ads.