John T. Hewitt, CEO and Chairman of Liberty Tax Service since October 1996, is an icon in the tax industry. John is a dynamic leader nationally recognized as an entrepreneurial visionary with a blueprint for success. With more than 47 years of tax industry experience, he is the most experienced CEO in the tax preparation business. He is also the founder of two top tax preparation firms including Jackson Hewitt Inc, and a former H&R Block Regional Director.
Accounting Today has named John one of the Top 100 most influential people in the tax industry for 15 consecutive years. The International Franchise Association honored John Hewitt as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006.
How It All Began
John Hewitt’s roots in the tax industry date back to 1969. While a college student, he enrolled in a non-curricular course that would change his life and have a profound effect on the tax industry. He took the H&R Block tax course, which he later described as “the most interesting course I’ve ever taken.” He started as a tax preparer with Block, then began his climb up the management ranks becoming assistant manager for Block’s Buffalo district. After a stint as a district manager in Elmira, New York, from 1975 until 1980, John advanced to regional director. He was the youngest person ever to hold this position in the Block operating system. He managed more than 2,000 preparers in 250 offices in one of Block’s largest districts.
John embraced the technological revolution and the evolution of computerized tax preparation while at Block. In the early 1980s, he and his father developed a decision-tree tax interview program that generated individual responses to tax interview questions. It was the first PC tax software of its kind in the industry. John was optimistic that he could market this futuristic product to his present employer. However, H&R Block was not a taker, so he took steps to start a new tax company. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service was founded in Hampton Roads, Virginia, in the early 1980s. The company utilized its own unique “Hewtax” interview program.
By 1986, IRS personnel had acknowledged that computerized tax preparation could have a positive effect on the filing process. This was the first year the IRS tested electronic filing, which allowed taxpayers to directly file their taxes and bypass the mailing of returns entirely. The timing was right, so John took Jackson Hewitt public in 1994. The company became a solid second to Block and subsequently sold for $483 million in 1997. When John left Jackson Hewitt in fiscal 1997, the company was operating 1,345 offices. Jackson Hewitt was the first successful national industry competitor against H&R Block.
Shaping The Future
John envisioned Liberty Tax Service while under a non-compete contract with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. His business plan was set into motion in Canada, when he purchased the U&R Tax Depot, a Canadian tax company, September 1, 1997. John inaugurated U.S. operations in January 1998.
Under John’s leadership, Liberty Tax Service has prepared more than 18 million individual income tax returns and continues to meet customers’ needs, providing income tax preparation and electronic filing. There are currently more than 4,400 Liberty Tax Service offices operating in Canada and the United States. Each Liberty Tax office offers its customers friendly, accurate tax preparation in a warm and welcoming environment.