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Liberty Tax Service Acquires Online Tax Preparation Firm

by Leroy Baker,, New York

10 January 2007

Liberty Tax Service has announced the acquisition of eSmartTax, the internet income tax preparation business of San Jose, California-based C&S Technologies. Liberty Tax Service and H&R Block are now the only two national tax preparation firms that offer both an online and 'brick-and-mortar' service.

The eSmartTax acquisition expands Liberty Tax Service’s existing product offering by allowing customers to prepare and file individual tax returns on the internet through the company’s website, or through the IRS Free File Alliance site.

“Last year, 21.7 million individual US tax returns were filed using the internet,” commented John T. Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service.

“Online filing is the fastest-growing segment of the tax industry and we want to take advantage of that growth," he added.

Liberty also plans to use the software platform for its participation in the Free File Alliance partnership that provides a free tax preparation alternative through the IRS’s website. Since the Free File’s debut in 2003, 15.6 million tax returns have been prepared and filed through the program, according to the website.

The addition of the online tax preparation product complements the company’s brick-and-mortar operations, according to Hewitt, because Liberty can now serve consumers who routinely switch between self-prepared and paid preparation based upon lifestyle changes and/or tax law changes.

“Due in most part to their complexity, well over half of all tax returns started online aren’t completed,” Hewitt stated. “Our goal is to move those filers who don’t finish their online returns into one of our nearby offices,” he added.

“We are enthusiastic about the possibilities that the online service will present to our franchisees,” Hewitt continued. “By having a product offering for each type of consumer – the paid filer and the 'do-it-yourselfer' – our customer retention will improve significantly. This is a huge win for Liberty and our franchisees.”

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