Carnival of Taxes #16:
The Home Stretch
Deduction floors and ceilings

Tax filing wars go down to the wire

If you ever had any doubt about what a revenue generator tax filing is, the ever increasing competition between the major tax preparation chains will remove it.

As we head into the final week of tax season 2007, we have H&R Block's pizza play vs. Jackson Hewitt's lunch box brigade.

Pizza_pepperoni_2 The Kansas City, Mo.-based Block has teamed up with Papa John's to reward tax "pro-crust-inators." So sorry … and, even sorrier, more is on the way.

Taxpayers who file using H&R Block's TaxCut Online software program will get a $10.40 (warned you!) gift card redeemable for online pizza orders. The offer began yesterday and runs through April 17. It is available through a special link at the pizza purveyor's Web site as well as H&R Block's online filing home page.

Block also has teamed up with Link2Gov Corp., one of the two companies authorized by the IRS to process credit card payments. The other is Official Payments, which has on its site an ad for a discount from competing TurboTax software.

Taxpayers who come into a Block office, find they owe the IRS and decide to pay that tax bill with a credit card will get a discount on Link2Gov's processing fee. Instead of the usual 2.49 percent of your bill charge, Block/Link2Gov customers will pay a 1.99 percent fee. The special fee rate expires April 17.

Meanwhile, Jackson Hewitt is also making a few marketing moves. Through tomorrow, taxpayers in certain professions will get $25 off tax preparation services at that chain's offices. The price break is available to mechanics, welders, electricians, plumbers, truck and bus drivers, and construction workers.

Also in keeping with the everyman (and woman) theme, Jackson Hewitt has partnered this year with NASCAR. Taxpayers who set up a RacePoints account when they get their taxes done at a JH office will get 1,000 points added to the program. The points, according to the tax company's Web site, are redeemable for "exclusive NASCAR licensed merchandise and experiences at NASCAR.com."

Beyond the franchises: Meanwhile, other companies that depend upon our taxes as much as Uncle Sam does are also showcasing special offers in the filling season's waning days.

TaxACT continues its free for all filing -- "no rebates or gimmicks" -- to allow taxpayers, regardless of income, to e-file at no cost. And TaxCut, H&R Block's software mentioned earlier, has yet another promotion going with Travelocity to allow folks a free download of the program.

And a slew of other software companies are, of course, participating in the IRS' Free File Alliance. With this program, taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $52,000 or less can file their taxes at no cost at the special IRS Web site. Participation is a nice gesture on the companies' part and an even better marketing move to get people familiar with their products and perhaps turn them into paying customers down the line.

All of this tax-filing creativity just goes to underscore the bottom line importance of our taxes, not only to the U.S. Treasury, but also to Jackson Hewitt, H&R Block, et al.

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