John Hewitt (tax preparation entrepreneur)

John T. Hewitt (born 1949 in Detroit, Michigan) is a U.S. entrepreneur, the co-founder of Jackson Hewitt and sole founder of Liberty Tax Service. As of late 2006 Hewitt served as CEO, chairman of the board and president of the latter. As such, Hewitt is the only individual to have founded two of Entrepreneur magazine's top 10-ranked franchises: Liberty Tax Service and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. Together these companies account for more than 7,000 tax preparation offices in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, John Hewitt was a pioneer in the development and use of specialized tax-preparation software, which is now the industry's standard practice.

Early career

Hewitt began his career in 1969, while still a student at the University of Buffalo, by attending a tax-preparation course offered by H&R Block. Finding the topic quite interesting, he subsequently obtained employment with that company as a tax preparer. He would rise quickly within the organization, reaching the rank of regional director by 1980.

Hewitt perceived a need for technological innovation within the tax industry and he left H&R Block in order to pursue that opportunity. Working alongside his father, he pioneered the development of decision-free tax-preparation software. However, H&R Block was not interested in this new way of doing business. This led Hewitt to found a tax-preparation service that would exploit the efficiency of the new technology.

Co-founder of Jackson Hewitt

That goal would materialize in 1982 in Hampton Roads, Virginia after Hewitt and other investors acquired the six offices of a local tax-preparation company, Mel Jackson Tax Service. In 1988, the company changed its name to Jackson Hewitt and launched the "Hewtax" tax interview program, the first of its kind in the industry. By 1986, IRS personnel also began seeing the advantages of computerized filings. That year the IRS tested the electronic filing process, allowing taxpayers to directly file their taxes and bypass the mailing of returns entirely. As a leader in using technology to facilitate tax filings, Jackson Hewitt benefited considerably. Also in 1986, Jackson Hewitt began offering franchises in the United States.

By 1992 Jackson Hewitt was one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States, according to Inc. Magazine, attaining a secure second-place ranking in its industry. The company became public in 1994, and was sold for $483 million in 1997, by which time it was operating 1,345 offices.

Liberty Tax Service

Having left Jackson Hewitt at the time of its acquisition, John Hewitt was contractually barred from competing with it until 2000 in most of the United States. However, he decided to launch a new company which would be the vehicle for yet further innovations, Liberty Tax Service. In order not to infringe the terms of the contract with the purchasers of Jackson Hewitt, the new company initially restricted its operations to Canada. Liberty Tax Service was launched there when Hewitt purchased a local tax company on September 1, 1997.

The new concern soon achieved a large measure of success; its more than 2,000 offices in North America as of 2006 make it the fastest-growing major tax-preparation company in history, and put it on pace to eventually equate or overtake its older competitors.

Honors and awards

*International Franchise Association Entrepreneur of the Year (2006)
*Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People (2000-2006)
*Ernst & Young Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year (2003)

ources

* [http://libertytax.com/Our_Company/John_Hewitt_-_Competitor__Innovator__Successful.htm Official biography on Liberty Tax Web site]
* [http://sm.ebookhost.net/amg/top100people2006/1/index.php Accounting Today's 100 Most Influential People]


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