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The delayed tax season and a goodwill write down for its Wave operations led H&R Block to a sharp drop in earnings and revenue for the year ended April 30. Net income dropped 53.9 percent to $369 million for fiscal 2020, compared to $799 million for fiscal 2019.

 Revenue dropped to $2.64 billion for the recently ended year, off 14.7 percent from $3.1 billion. Results took a hit from $106 million impairment charge for its Wave operations.

Wave had 40-percent revenue growth through mid-March, but than went flat in April and May. “We've taken measures to ensure we are limiting operating losses at Wave without sacrificing key investments in the business,” CEO Jeff Jones said during the company’s recent webcast for earnings for fiscal 2020. However, because Block expects Wave to be negatively impacted by the effect of the pandemic, it took the impairment charge.

The major question for Block is how much business will shift from the fourth quarter for a normal tax season into the first quarter ending July 31 with the extension of tax deadlines to July 15.

“While it's natural to expect all volume loss in Q4 of fiscal '20 to shift into the first quarter of fiscal '21, that may not necessarily be the case,” CFO Tony Bowen said during the webcast. Bowen said while more stores are open than usual, the company of is operating with just half its network with a substantial portion of stores open unable to provide face-to-face service to clients. Block does not know how this will impact its ability to retain clients and attract new ones.

It’s clear taxpayers are taking advantage of the extension. “We recently did a survey of about 10,000 consumers who have not yet filed and asked them why, and the answer was “Because we don't have to yet,’” Jones said.  “The second answer was around safety.”

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Thursday, 25 June 2020
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