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Intuit and H&R Block reported results this week that beat the increase in tax returns filed the overall tax season. The totals for both were pushed by growth in online software while desktop sales dropped as did the number of returns prepared at Block stores.

Intuit said sales of TurboTax units sold through April 20 were 5 percent higher than in last year’s season through April 21, 2018. Block said it prepared 1.5 percent more returns for the season through April 19, the second straight year the company registered an increase in returns. Both companies’ improvement came from sales of online units.

Through April 19, the Internal Revenue Service received 119,427,000 returns, an increase of .7 percent from 118,580,000 returns for the comparable period of 2018.

Intuit sold 37,921,000 TurboTax units this year, compared to 36,013,000 in the 2018 tax season. The software company reported there were 4,889,000 desktop units sold this year, a decline of 3 percent from 5,030,000 in last year’s corresponding period. The number of TurboTax Online units sold rose to 7 percent 31,861,000 from 29,814,000. 

Block prepared 20,172,000 returns in the recently ended season, compared to 19,873,000 in last year’s corresponding period. 

The total number of assisted returns fell to 11,558,000, down 1.7 percent from 11,759,000 for last year’s tax season. Sales of desktop units also fell to 1,961,000 for 2019, off 3 percent from 2,022,000 the prior year. Growth came from online self-prepared returns. Block reported 5,992,000 of those units this year, an increase of 6 percent from 5,482,000 the prior year. Franchised stores performed better than company-owned locations, although that category was also down. Franchised locations prepared 3,558,000 returns, a drop of 1.2 percent from 3,600,000. Returns prepared at company-owned stores fell 1.9 percent to 8 million from, 8,159,000.

Block’s total got a lift from Free File returns. There were 661,000 of those for 2019, a rise of 8.4 percent from 610,000. Intuit’s Free File total was flat.

Last modified on Monday, 29 April 2019
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