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AICPA Slams Ad Disparaging CPAs

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Mar 18, 2016

LierThe AICPA is not amused by a recent ad from H&R Block saying that CPAs don't know taxes like they do and questioning their willingness to support clients before the IRS, said Accounting Today. The claim is a curious one considering the wealth of tax experts within the CPA profession, who handle both the simple matters H&R Block is familiar with, as well as far more complex tax issues. 

The AICPA, in response to the ad, wrote a letter to the head of H&R Block, Bill Cobb, telling him to take it down. The Institute has also provided a model letter that CPAs can send to the company expressing their consternation at what the ad insinuates about the profession: 

 ..

March XX, 2016
Mr. William C. Cobb
President and CEO
H&R Block, Inc.
One H&R Block Way
Kansas City, MO 64105

Dear Mr. Cobb:

As a CPA who has been serving individual tax clients for more than [X] years, I am writing to express my deep dismay and concern over your recently launched video and radio spots that grossly misrepresent CPA tax practitioners: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJcBK1DCrbo. They are misleading and question our competency, practice standards and ability to represent clients before the IRS. The claims are not only unacceptable, they are inaccurate. 

Many of your valued customers have benefited from the expert, objective guidance of CPAs who are employees of H&R Block. Taxpayers are putting their trust in them and your brand to file their taxes responsibly and accurately. To disparage the reputation of CPAs undermines their professional service and the credibility of H&R Block. 

I am very disappointed to see your organization show such disregard for a time-honored, respected profession that has been committed to serving the public good for more than a century. These promotional spots tarnish who we are and what we stand for. On behalf of the CPA profession, my clients and the public interest, I am asking you to remove these spots from your tax season media buy.  

 Sincerely,

 [Name]
 [Title]

 ..

Bill Cobb himself recently responded to the AICPA in a letter of his own. He panned the AICPA response, saying it represented a fear of competition and of giving taxpayers a choice. Rather than pull the ads, he said he plans to expand them to additional markets. He said is company will also offer a special deal where those who come to H&R Block before March 31 will get half off what they paid a CPA to do their taxes last year. 

This is not the first time the AICPA and H&R Block have feuded. In 2003, a similar set of ads drew the Institute's ire. Then-CEO Mark Ernst, in a response to the AICPA, raised a similar argument, saying that CPAs are just afraid of competition. However, later on, H&R Block agreed to pull the ads.