Young Henry Bloch and his brother Leon wanted to open a family business when they got out of the army after WWII. Borrowing $5,000, the pair opened a small bookeeping shop in Kansas City, Missouri. Unfortunately, after just a few months, the business was not doing very well and Leon decided that he would rather go to law school. Henry wanted to keep trying, so he was about to place an ad for help in the local newspaper when his mother suggested that he hire his brother Richard instead since he knew about tax returns.
The pair began doing bookkeeping again, but this time around, also offering tax preparation services.
The new company was called the United Business Company.
In 1955, on the advice of a friend who worked for the local newspaper, the brothers ran an ad in The Kansas City Star for $5 tax services. The next day the office was full of tax clients, and H&R Block was born.
The company expanded by franchising to New York City in 1956, and the company grew quickly. The name was changed to Block, rather than Bloch, which the brothers thought was easier to remember and to spell. H&R Block went public in 1962, trading on the New York Stock exchange, under the symbol HRB.
Today H&R Block is a tax-preparation and and financial services company. The company has 25 million customers, which it serves through 11,000 company-owned and franchised locations in the United States and 1,600 locations in Canada and Australia.
The company competes for a share of the digital market with its online tax programs and software. Unlike other online companies, H&R Block has a program called the Best of Both, where clients enter their information and do their returns online and a Block tax professional reviews, edits, signs, and e-files the return for the client. Many clients claim they feel better about returns that an actual human, trained in tax return laws, has read and at least looked at.
Current CFO Tony Bowen says that the tax delay in 2020 and again in 2021 has had a tremendous impact on the company’s resources.
H&R Block is a member of the S&P 500, is #665 in Fortune 1000, has 2,400 employees, and had $3 billion in revenue in 2016. Headquarters for the company are still located in Kansas City, Missouri.