Kansas City (Sept. 13, 2004) -- In a strike against competitors Liberty Tax Service and Jackson Hewitt, tax-prep giant H&R Block plans to open 600 offices in “under-served areas,” and an additional 400 new tax service kiosk outlets in retailer Wal-Mart for the 2005 filing season.

Block chairman and chief executive Mark Ernst told attendees at the company’s annual shareholders meeting that the “increase in the number of competitors offering services similar to [H&R Block’s] has created a short-term competitive issue.” Ernst said that tax-prep customers would take their business elsewhere “if there is too long a wait at one of Block’s offices.”

In June, Block reported that 3 percent fewer clients used the company to prepare their taxes than in the year-ago period. Despite the decline in filers, Block’s fiscal 2004 systemwide revenue rose 12 percent to $4.2 billion. Year-end profits rose roughly 20 percent to $697 million.

In other news, the company hired William L. Trubeck as executive vice president and chief financial officer effective Oct. 4. Trubeck currently serves as executive vice president at Waste Management Inc. Block also hired Marc West as senior vice president and chief information officer, effective Sept. 13. West comes aboard Block from Electronic Arts in Redwood City, Calif., where he served as senior vice president and global chief information officer.

-- WebCPA staff

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