H&R Block Launches Island In Second Life

    March 13, 2007

The April deadline to file taxes in the United States is fast approaching, and with it comes the time of year when tax accounting firms usually see a peak volume in their business. With all the questions surrounding new tax laws, deduction advice, and audit defense, H&R block is looking to bolster its brand against all others by setting up shop in Second Life.

That’s right, now you can visit H&R Block’s island in the virtual world of Second Life to get free advice for filing this year’s tax returns. I’ve often criticized the recent trend of companies and organizations attempting to embrace the Second Life community. This time, however, I think I’m on board with what H&R Block is trying to accomplish.

After all, death and taxes carry the same amount of certainty, even within the virtual realm.

“We look for ways to connect with our customers anytime, anywhere, and with that in mind, we chose to be the first to build a presence on another ‘block’ within the Second Life world,” said Tom Allanson, senior vice president and general manager, H&R Block Digital Tax Solutions.

“As we develop products to make tax preparation fun and engaging, such as our innovative new tax preparation experience called Tango, we also look to connect and communicate with clients in a new space — Second Life. The inhabitants of Second Life are revolutionizing how people interact in a virtual world. As we engage these Second Lifers in a conversation in a new space, we believe our digital tax services will appeal to them.” 

Employing a bit more foresight than the unofficial John Edwards virtual campaign, H&R Block seems to have had to the good sense to set up on an island of their own rather than plant roots within the depravity of the world at large. That choice may not completely render the operation immune to attacks, but should at least hinder would-be griefers for a while.