Jackson Hewitt Tax Service is the second largest tax preparer in America (behind only H&R Block) and completes over 2.2 million returns each year. With over 6,500 locations throughout 48 states (and D.C.) you can probably find a branch near you. Many are even located in Wal-Mart and Kmart super stores or in mall kiosks, offering convenience and quick service.
Jackson Hewitt will prepare your income tax return (both federal and state) and file it electronically. You can come into one of their offices to have a return completed or you can opt to prepare your own taxes using their proprietary online software. For a basic return you can do this for free, or if it is a little more complicated there is a nominal charge. Generally the more complicated the tax return the more expensive the service.
You can elect to receive your tax refund directly from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or avail yourself of one of several financial products that Jackson Hewitt offers. These include RALs (refund anticipation loans), assisted refunds and gold guarantee.
• Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) – These are loans offered by third party banks and institutions available to customers and are secured by their anticipated income tax refund. This will allow Jackson Hewitt customers access, usually within one day, to funds very quickly.
• Assisted refunds – Sometimes also known as accelerated check refunds or assisted direct deposits, these allow customers to have their processing and preparation fees taken directly from their income tax refund. A third party financial institution opens a bank account for the express purpose of depositing the refund; the customer can then accept a bank check for the net amount, or have a transfer to their own account.
• Gold guarantee – this is a warranty that customers can purchase to provide protection against potential errors made in the preparation of that customer’s tax return. For those customers that choose this service they can choose to receive their refund in the form of the iPower Cash Card (a debit MasterCard card).
Begun in 1982 by a former H&R Block employee, John Hewitt and his wife bought the Virginia based Mel Jackson’s Tax Service (six locations), renamed it Jackson Hewitt and began to slowly grow the business. By 1998 The Cendant Corp bought the entire company for $480 million and began rapid expansion. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc. was spun off as a separate company in 2004.
Jackson Hewitt has partnered with the Magic Johnson Foundation to provide “Community Empowerment Centers” that offer tax services and financial planning and educational resources in Sacramento, Houston, Cleveland, Chicago and New Orleans. Services are provided free of charge in underserved communities for seniors and the disadvantaged. Clients in these communities have free access to a Jackson Hewitt money manager, an online budgeting tool and assistance in creating a savings plan.
As is the case in most large corporations, you can find dedicated, passionate people to help you with your tax return at Jackson Hewitt, but there are inevitably some who are just trying to collect a pay-check. The level of service that you will receive depends upon the individual you are interacting with at the moment. To be safe, take time to interview the person behind the desk before giving them your tax information; it will be worth it in the long run.