Recently, we have been made aware of an ad campaign from tax preparer H&R Block containing misleading statements about the CPA profession. The video and radio spots, which we are aware have aired in Northern Virginia and may have also aired in other parts of the state, raise doubts about CPA expertise, client service and competence in representing clients before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The VSCPA is disappointed in H&R Block’s misleading statements. American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, responded with a letter to H&R Block CEO William Cobb, and the VSCPA agrees wholeheartedly with the concerns he and his organization raised.
“They are misleading and question our competency, practice standards and ability to represent clients before the IRS,” the AICPA said in its letter. “The claims are not only unacceptable, they are inaccurate. Many of your valued customers have benefited from the expert, objective guidance of CPAs who are employees of H&R Block. Taxpayers are putting their trust in them and your brand to file their taxes responsibly and accurately. To disparage the reputation of CPAs undermines their professional service and the credibility of H&R Block.”
We’d like to highlight the following facts about CPAs and tax preparation as they relate to H&R Block’s claims:
While many CPAs don’t specialize in tax preparation, the ones who specialize in other areas don’t prepare returns for clients. CPAs who do prepare returns are trained in taxation issues through the rigorous CPA licensing process.
CPAs who prepare and review tax returns are personally responsible for the work and are bound by the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and state boards of accountancy.
CPAs who specialize in tax are the most well-trained experts in taxation issues. No tax advisor is better prepared to represent taxpayers in front of the IRS than a CPA.
Perhaps the most telling sign of CPA expertise in this particular case is the fact that H&R Block employs CPAs across the country in its tax preparation offices. The company is well aware of the value CPAs offer in tax matters.
The VSCPA is disappointed that H&R Block has chosen to attack the CPA profession in this way and is drafting a response letter to the company. We encourage our members to send their own letters if they so desire. The AICPA is offering a sample letter (DOCX) for CPAs to use in crafting their responses.
Thank you for your continued support of the VSCPA and the profession. Your own exacting professional standards are our greatest evidence as we respond to these misleading advertisements. We will continue to work on your behalf to protect the profession’s reputation.