H&R Block recently got into trouble because when a Connecticut same-sex couple tried to file their taxes through H&R Block’s website, the system spat back, “”We don’t support Connecticut Civil Union returns.” One of our readers wrote H&R Block about our post and their VP of Marketing actually wrote back to him to describe what she felt was media sensationalization of the story. She says that the problem happens because the Federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex civil unions. The information for state tax returns gets inputted based on the federal, so in this specific case, it’s not “flowing” correctly. It sounds like they’re working on fixing that, though. Here’s her email in full:
Your email was sent to me and I wanted to respond to you personally. We do not refuse to prepare tax returns for gay and lesbian couples. Unfortunately, we are a public target of some pretty nasty allegations that are not true. I believe the media and other like to sensationalize issues. Here is what is really going on…
The federal government does not recognize same-sex civil unions for the preparation of federal income taxes. However, Connecticut has recognized these civil unions for state taxes. In our online tax program, TaxCut, the federal tax return programmatically feeds the tax return information into the state tax return. Since the federal return can not be filed as a same-sex civil union (like a joint return) the correct information is not flowing to the state portion of the tax return to file a same-sex civil union state return. In this instance, like any other area that may not be handled well with the online program, we provide some guidance that our H&R Block tax offices will be able to assist you with your return. In general when we have complicated tax return situations, we feel that the best outcome is to have one of our tax professionals assist the consumer.
We are accused of is discriminating against same-sex civil unions because we presented the option of visiting one of our offices. Our competitors recommend that three returns be prepared (two individual returns for the federal return, and then a “proforma” return where the information is combined for the federal return that will feed into the state return. The customer is instructed to print the “proforma” return and mail in the state return). We have the same workaround available in our online and software products. Additionally, we have offered to refund the price of the “proforma” return so that the couple is treated financially on parity with a married filing jointly couple. Our competition does not offer the refund or parity pricing with a married filing jointly couple.
I want to assure you that we do not discriminate against any individuals and value all our customers. We do not refuse to prepare tax returns for gay and lesbian couples that live in US states where their marriage is recognized. We are in fast offering a better solution than the competition for those customers.
Please feel free to email me directly with any other questions.
Vice President, Marketing
That makes sense. Still, you would think that would be the kind of thing you would want to test for before tax season. Someone should have said, “Hey, Connecticut is allowing those crazy gay civil unions for tax purposes, let’s see if our software actually lets people do it.”
PREVIOUSLY: H&R Block Doesn’t “Support” Gay Civil Unions
(Photo: Ben Popken)