H&R Block Gets BankCharter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (03/16/06) Roiling the debate even moreabout non-bank banking, tax preparers H&R Block receivedapproval from federal regulators Wednesday for its own bankcharter. The charter will allow H&R Block, which has expandedinto financial services through mortgage lending the past fewyears, to offer traditional banking products like checking,savings, CDs, and IRAs through a wholly owned subsidiary calledH&R Block Bank. The new bank will be headquartered in KansasCity, home to the tax preparation giant, and will serve customersthrough a variety of channels, including ATMs, the Internet, andcustomer call centers. The awarding of the bank charter for H&RBlock comes as opposition is growing to an application from retailgiant Wal-Mart Stores for its own banking charter. It also comes asauthorities in New York announced a $250 million fraud suit againstH&R Block claiming the tax preparation specialists put morethan 500,000 of its clients into money-losing retirement plans. TheFDIC has scheduled a rare series of public hearings on the Wal-Martapplication for next month.