Kansas 105

Today's trivia (November 5)

It was two brothers, an idea and a $5,000 loan more than half a century ago that evolved into one of the biggest tax preparation companies in the world.

Henry W. Bloch and his brother, Richard, founded H&R Block in 1955.

The brothers grew up in Mission, near Kansas City, Kan. Their father was an attorney.

After serving as a navigator on B-17 bombers in World War II, Henry graduated from the University of Michigan and then attended Harvard Business School. It was there he adopted a business philosophy to serve individuals and small businesses.

His brother, Richard, graduated from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Their older brother, Leon, studied law at the University of Missouri.

According to a corporate history on H&R Block's website, Henry and his brother Leon founded the United Business Co. in 1946. The company offered bookkeeping and other services.

When the business didn't immediately take off, Leon left the company to return to law school.

Henry continued the business. He soon advertised that he wanted to hire another employee. His mother suggested he hire his brother Richard.

Initially, the Bloch brothers decided their company would offer bookkeeping services. Tax preparation would be offered as a courtesy to their friends and customers.

Shortly before the 1955 tax season, the brothers decided they'd no longer do taxes for other people. But a client suggested they give it one more try and advertise in the Kansas City Star.

It was a hit.

Question: Up until the 1950s, what service did the IRS offer people, then discontinue — thus helping fuel the Block brothers and their business?


Answer to Friday’s question: When Harrison "Hank" Crandall retired in 1959, he turned his studio over to Grand Teton National Park.

Check back at Kansas.com on Sunday for the answer to today’s question.