Attention, Shoppers: Tax Returns on Sale!

By Ken Berry

Are consumers inclined to drop off their tax returns at a department store kiosk after shopping for linens, sporting goods, or electronic gadgets? Both Liberty Tax Services and Jackson Hewitt are betting they are.
 
Beginning next tax return season, Liberty Tax will set up shop in more than 300 Walmart stores around the country. The national tax preparation firm - with more than 4,100 offices in the United States and Canada - provides computerized tax preparation and electronic filing services for individual taxpayers. At each office, it offers audit assistance, a money-back guarantee, and a free tax return review to buyers. Liberty Tax already occupies year-round office space in about a dozen or so Walmart Supercenters.
 
"Liberty Tax is excited about the opportunity to provide excellent tax preparation operations to Walmart's customers," said its CEO and founder, John Hewitt, in a prepared statement. "Our company is very customer centric, and the addition of the Walmart locations in tax season 2013 is another opportunity for us to provide a convenient solution for customers looking for a local tax preparer."
 
The news coincides with an announcement that Jackson Hewitt, which was cofounded by John Hewitt before he left to start his own company, will replace longstanding tenant H&R Block at Sears stores in 2013. H&R Block reportedly will downsize to 112 Sears locations this year from approximately 500 as it attempts to refocus its business on competition with tax software providers like TurboTax.
 
It may be odd for us to think of shoppers stopping to get their tax returns prepared while they pick up household goods or clothing, but Hewitt sees the department store market growing to meet the demands of busy taxpayers. "We continue to expand our relationships, with Walmart being our latest," he tells AccountingWEB. "Convenience is the key for consumers. We will be open from nine to nine, Monday through Friday, and nine to five on Saturday. One to two employees will be there during those hours."
 
The main item for sale is preparation of individual tax returns, although Hewitt says his company also offers corporate and partnership tax preparation services at the stores. But this constitutes less than 10 percent of Liberty Tax's business.  
 
Is there any potential downside to the setup with Walmart? Hewitt acknowledges that lack of privacy may be a concern. But he comments that they won't move their operations into a more private area, like the layaway department, because they would lose the value of greater visibility. Expect to see the kiosks in plain sight next year. 
 
Related articles:
 

You may like these other stories...

Legislation coming out of Washington just might reduce homeowners' burden for disaster insurance. It's a topic very much on everyone's minds since the mudslide in Oso, Washington. The loss of human life was...
Divorce is hard, and the IRS isn't going to make it any easier. The IRS generally says "no" to tax deductions that might ease the pain of divorce. In certain circumstances, however, you might be able to salvage...
IRS chief: New rule on the way for tax-exempt groupsIRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the USA Today on Monday that the agency will likely rewrite a proposed rule regulating the political activities of nonprofit groups to...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Apr 22
Is everyone at your organization meeting your client service expectations? Let client service expert, Kristen Rampe, CPA help you establish a reputation of top-tier service in every facet of your firm during this one hour webinar.
Apr 24
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA introduces you to a powerful but underutilized macro feature in Excel.
Apr 25
This material focuses on the principles of accounting for non-profit organizations' revenues. It will include discussions of revenue recognition for cash and non-cash contributions as well as other revenues commonly received by non-profit organizations.
Apr 30
During the second session of a four-part series on Individual Leadership, the focus will be on time management- a critical success factor for effective leadership. Each person has 24 hours of time to spend each day; the key is making wise investments and knowing what investments yield the greatest return.