Case against H&R Block over filing fee, in court

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 11, 2005, 6:32am

A class action lawsuit against H&R Block over allegations it unfairly charged a fee for electronically filing customers' tax returns, will be in court Jan. 20 in Granite City.

Madison County resident Lorie Marshall claims she was “victimized” by the company's deceptive practice because she placed her trust in H&R Block's superior knowledge of tax preparation.

Circuit Judge Philip Kardis will hear all pending motions in the case that was originally filed May 2, 2003. Marshall's suit claims that H&R Block, of Kansas City, Mo., purported that the fee covered the cost of filing while use the company's computer terminals.

In the suit, Marshall claims the fee, which over time has ranged from $10 to more than $30, is material and illusory.

"H&R Block fails to inform customers that tax returns could be filed for free using an IRS program, or for the mere price of a stamp," according to the suit.

“Instead, H&R Block deceptively sells this free service under the guise that it is an exclusive and unique service offered by H&R Block," the complaint states. "H&R Block likewise attempts to increase profits by cramming charges for electronic filing fees onto the bills of unsuspecting clients.”

Marshall alleges H&R Block engages in these alleged deceptive practices to improperly increase profits at the expense of its clients.

Represented by The Lakin Law Firm of Wood River, Freed & Weiss of Chicago and Macey Chern & Diab of Chicago, Marshall alleges the acts and omissions of H&R Block constitute breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary, and violates the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Act.

Marshall and members of the class are seeking to rescind their contracts and to be reimbursed from the profits and proceeds generated from the charges.

H&R Block has over 11,200 tax offices worldwide and reported $4.2 billion dollars in revenue in 2004. They are represented by the Edwardsville firm of Burroughs, Hepler, Broom, Macdonald, Hebrank and True.

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