For many people, preparing federal and state tax returns is an odyssey that requires the assistance of a tax accountant or tax attorney. But for those who typically file a 1040EZ form and also happen to shop at Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), tax preparation can be both simple and free.
Starting this week, Wal-Mart partners Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) will provide in-store tax preparation service for free for 1040EZ filers — typically single or married taxpayers who claim no dependents and do not itemize deductions. The offer includes up to two W-2 forms per customer, Wal-Mart explained in a press release, adding that it has worked with Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block to double their in-store tax kiosks and lower the cost for their services.
Jackson Hewitt is adding about 800 kiosks to the approximately 2,000 it already has in the Wal-Mart chain, and will offer the free tax preparation service throughout the tax season. H&R Block will have 250 kiosks and offer the service through Feb. 29.
An Associated Press story on the arrangement noted that about 39% of the 133 million individual returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service last year were submitted before the end of February, and that early filers usually expect a refund. The average refund last year was $2,805, down 2.6% from $2,880 in 2010.