H&R Block Inc. hopes that it will be able to put at least one refund anticipation loan lawsuit in its past.

The tax prep giant has tentatively agreed to settle a longstanding class-action lawsuit over its RAL business for $39 million. The company said that it will split the cost equally with Beneficial National Bank, which put up the money for the loans, made between April 8, 1994, and Dec. 31, 1996. About $30 million of the settlement will be distributed to the class members

Originally filed in 1998, the lawsuit is one of several alleging that Block failed to disclose high costs and other features of RALs made to more than 17 million clients over a 13-year period.

In December, Block announced a combined $62.5 million settlement for four similar class-action suits involving 8 million clients. Another set of claims, alleging federal racketeering violations, is scheduled for a hearing next month. Earlier this year, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed another lawsuit seeking damages for 1.5 million California residents with refund loans dating from 2001. Block has denied those allegations and is fighting the suit.

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