A cost-cutting plan by the nation’s largest tax preparation firm will mean the closing of one office in Wichita.
H&R Block said Wednesday that it would close 400 offices across the country and cut 400 jobs.
A Block spokeswoman said the closings would include one of its 17 offices here, though she said she couldn’t identify the office to be closed.
“We’re still making that decision,” Kate Rauber said.
The firm has 11,000 retail tax preparation offices. Some are seasonal offices, while others are operated year round.
In Wichita it has four offices that are open year round. The remaining ones are open only part of the year.
She couldn’t say if any Block employees here would be among those whose jobs are cut. It’s likely, Rauber added, that the Wichita office to be closed will be one of the company’s seasonal locations, which has part-time preparers.
“Those associates can go to the next closest office (to work),” she said.
Rauber said among the 400 jobs to be cut company wide, 165 of them will be at Block’s Kansas City, Mo., headquarters. Forty-three open positions won’t be filled. The rest of the jobs to be cut will be field support or administrative positions across the country, she said.
Last month Block said the number of retail returns prepared was down 1.7æpercent from a year ago and the average retail fee per tax return was 1.2 percent lower.
In March it said revenue for its third quarter was down by nearly 6æpercent — to $934.9 million — because of fewer tax returns that it prepared.
Block CEO Russ Smyth said the company’s difficulties for the past two years include the high unemployment rate. He said the jobless rate for the company’s core customer base is two or three times higher than the national average, which has hovered around 10 percent for months.
“There aren’t as many people who need their taxes done when there are a lot fewer W-2s going out,” Smyth said.
Block said it expects the plan to reduce its annual operating expenses by between $140 million and $150 million by the end of fiscal 2012.
Contributing: Kansas City Star