H&R Block to Offer Tax Services on Yahoo

Yahoo Inc. has signed a deal this week with H&R Block Inc. for the Kansas City-based company to provide tax information and filing services via the portal's online tax center.

The news came on the heels of an order for H&R Block to stop using the phrase “rapid refund” and other terms that a federal judge deemed inappropriate and intended to disguise expensive loans arranged for people anticipating refunds on their claims.

Judge Raymond A. Jackson of U.S. District Court in Norfolk, VA, concluded in his 45-page opinion released late Monday that on some loans the annual percentage rate charged by the company exceeded 500 percent.

H&R Block spokeswoman Linda McDougall said the company “strongly disagrees with the judge's finding” and will appeal it.

An Internal Revenue Service official said the agency was aware of the court's ruling against Block but had not decided what disciplinary action it would take, if any, against the company.

In the Yahoo deal, Block said it would offer a basic filing service for $19.95, reviews of tax returns for $29.95 and its professional preparation service starting at $99.95, all on the Yahoo Finance Web site. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

H&R Block executives added that the company hoped the deal would help increase its share of the rapidly growing Internet-based tax services market. Over the next five years, the number of people either filing tax returns over the Web or using tax preparation software is expected to double to about 40 million.

Company officials said the agreement expands upon a deal initially signed last year when the two companies agreed that H&R Block would provide its basic service on Yahoo, Santa Clara, CA.

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