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H&R Block Will Hire More Temp Workers for the Tax Season

Oct. 3, 2005 (The Kansas City Star, Mo.) H&R Block Inc. plans to increase its tax network's peak temporary work force nearly 40 percent in the coming filing season to reduce the loss of customers to competitors.

Mark Ernst, chairman and chief executive of the Kansas City-based financial services company, told securities analysts Tuesday that Block's tax service plans to add about 39,000 additional temporary tax professionals to help absorb an intense filing rush that occurs when taxpayers get the final wage and income statements needed to apply for income tax refunds.

Block added about 28,000 temporary seasonal peak workers to its normal 60,000-member nationwide tax service workforce last season.

Company executives say that move helped end what had been a two-year drop in client traffic through its tax offices. Block's tax operations remain the company's largest source of profits and revenue. Block previously said it would this year add between 500 and 700 new tax offices and 400 shared location tax sites -- in Sears and Wal-Mart stores -- to the nearly 11,200 such outlets open last season.

"We are moving our distribution network closer to our clients," Ernst told the analysts.

The company intends that increasing both the number of outlets and the number of tax preparers in them will cut the time prospective clients must wait to receive tax help and thus stop them from going to competitors with shorter lines.

Ernst said the company still believes that its businesses, which also include mortgage lending, business accounting, and financial advisory services, will turn in profits equivalent to between $2.12 and $2.32 a share for the fiscal year ending next April 30.

-- Gene Meyer

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