By Chloe Aiello
Between changes in the tax code and the government shutdown, H&R Block knows tax season will likely be stressful for many, but CEO Jeff Jones said a few simple steps can put taxpayers in control of their financial health.
"The thing that I'm most focused on now is refund size. And we know that not enough people this year changed their withholdings," Jones told Cheddar Tuesday.
This year marks the first tax season since President Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into full effect and it has implications for every taxpaying household. An estimated 73 percent of Americans should expect refunds, but about 21 percent ー or roughly 30 million Americansー will owe, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. That's up from about 18 percent the year before.
Jones said it's important to change the amount withheld from taxes to ensure you don't fall into that 21 percent.
"People think about taxes and they just think about their refund and their return. But you're actually in control of this, you can really impact the outcome," he said.
Another concern on the minds of many taxpayers is the government shutdown and how it might delay their returns. As tax season kicks off, the IRS is just returning to work after a 35-day shutdown that could very well pick back up after Feb. 15. While there really is no way to control whether the government shuts down again or not, Jones said the best way to ensure a speedy return is to file early ー and electronically.
"File early because you get earlier in the queue. We didn't really know yet exactly how the shutdown will impact processing," Jones said. "Make sure you're e-filing and make sure you do direct deposit, and all of those things are key to getting your refund faster."
In addition to his tax tips, Jones said H&R Block ($HRB) is offering a few new products and services to facilitate an easier and more transparent tax filing experience. Upfront pricing uses artificial intelligence to inform customers about the price of services before the tax prep process begins and during the process if anything changes. A price preview feature offers the same for customers who choose to file on their own. The company is also offering new ways to file. Tax Pro Go gives clients access to a tax professional without coming into the office, and Tax Pro Review ensures a tax professional reviews the forms of do-it-yourself filers before submission. Customers can also just drop their forms off at an H&R Block location and have their tax filings prepared for them.
For full interview click here.