They say the only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes, and while none of the companies on this list can help with regards to death, entrepreneurs who want to buy into a proven concept do have a very solid short-list of companies to examine more closely with these top five tax franchises.
In 2017, more than 150 million people filed tax returns across the nation, and nearly 60% of those returns were prepared by some kind of tax professional. That’s a big market, and it’s also notable that three out of the five companies on this list have achieved a ranking on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list.
All five companies on this list offer full-service, year-round tax preparation and consultation assistance, along with free audit assistance for those who receive notification of an IRS audit. While the basic services offered by each company are essentially the same, they differ in terms of what they’re willing to guarantee and the mix of promotions and special offers used to entice customers to choose their brand over the others.
Only one of the companies is dedicated to serving the more narrow niche market of Hispanic customers.
Here are our picks for the five best tax franchises of 2018:
1. H&R Block
H&R Block has prepared more than 720 million tax returns since brothers Henry and Richard Bloch founded the company back in 1955 and then took it public in 1962.
Customers have a wide array of services and ways to get help from H&R Block. They can always stop into an office to get the help they need in preparing their tax returns, but they can also get the help of an H&R Block Tax Pro online. Customers who want to file electronically can do so but have a Tax Pro review it first, or customers can also upload all their documents and have a Tax Pro handle the filing for them. The company also has its own do-it-yourself software to guide customers through preparing and filing their own taxes.
It guarantees that each customer will get the maximum refund possible. Each of the company’s Tax Pros has gone through a 6-level certification program and also has to complete 18 hours of continuing education each year before filing season begins.
This company currently ranks #286 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1955 and franchising since 1956, the number of locations currently stands at 10,682, of which 6,655 are company-owned and 636 of which are located outside the U.S.
2. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service offers year-round full-service tax preparation that it guarantees will be 100% accurate or it will pay for the preparation and filing. Of its nearly 6,000 locations, more than half are conveniently located in Walmart stores around the country. It also boasts about being open late and on weekends to be as accessible as possible to customers, who can walk in any time without an appointment to get help.
The company often runs various limited-time promotions, such as one where people can bring their most recent return to Jackson Hewitt to have it evaluated in order to see if they got the maximum refund possible (if they didn’t, they might opt to file an amended return), or offering people $100 to switch to Jackson Hewitt Tax Service from whatever service they used in the previous year and an additional $100 if they stick with Jackson Hewitt the following year.
Founded in 1985 by Jackson Hewitt and franchising since 1986, the number of locations has declined only slightly in recent years to the current total of 5,837, all of which are in the U.S. and 1,772 of which are company-owned.
3. Liberty Tax Service
Liberty Tax Service was also founded by Jackson Hewitt when he acquired Canadian tax preparation company U&R Tax Depot, changed the name to Liberty Tax Service, and started opening locations in the U.S.
Liberty offers two guarantees: The Maximum Refund Guarantee states that if customers file online with Liberty but get a bigger refund on the same return from a competitor, the preparation fees will be refunded. The Accuracy Guarantee states that if Liberty’s math is off resulting in any penalties or interest, the customer will be reimbursed for those.
Liberty also offers a changing mix of promotions such as a referral fee of $50 for each friend you send to Liberty that becomes a customer, a free Samsung Galaxy smartphone if the customer pays for a two-month service contract, and a free two-month trial of mileage tracking app MileIQ.
This company currently ranks #485 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1972 and franchising since 1973, the number of locations has declined slightly in the last few years and currently stands at 3,768, of which 289 are company-owned and 197 of which are located outside the U.S.
SiempreTax+, as the name suggests, is focused on the growing niche market of tax preparation for members of the Hispanic community. The company is actually part of the parent company that also owns Liberty Tax Service.
The company is especially focused on newer immigrants to the U.S. and for this reason offers a variety of other services such as applying for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) that is often needed to open bank accounts or obtain credit cards, assistance with drivers’ licenses, notary services, and advice on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Like Liberty, SiempreTax+ also offers a $50 referral promotion as well as free consultation appointments for individuals and families who need assistance. For tax preparation, the company hires bilingual personnel so language is never a barrier.
Founded in 2014 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations currently stands at 117, of which 39 are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
5. Happy Tax
Happy Tax was started after founder Mario Costanz had already opened nearly 100 tax preparation offices on his own. What he noticed was that many of the so-called tax professionals in other companies didn’t have nearly as much experience or qualifications as he thought they should have.
At Happy Tax, the only people who do the actual preparation of taxes are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). The person a customer sits down with in the store is not a CPA but acts more like a concierge – the CPAs are busy working their magic in the back office to get maximum refunds for customers.
Customers can also engage in the whole process through their mobile device of choice.
The company website is very transparent about the pricing of its services relative to many of its competitors, so customers know exactly what they will be paying to have the expertise of a CPA prepare their tax return.
During the 2018 tax season, the company also offered a sweepstakes promotion where one lucky entrant won a 3-year lease of a Tesla S electric car paid for by Happy Tax. Similar to other companies, Happy Tax also offers free audit assistance for customers who need it.
This company currently ranks #462 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 2014 and franchising since 2015, the number of locations currently stands at 101, none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.