UNITED STATES District Court
Western District of Missouri
Introduction: Description of MDL No. 2474
This multidistrict litigation consists of 14 cases currently pending before this Court. Plaintiffs are taxpayers who contracted with H & R Block (HRB), its affiliates, or franchisees for tax preparation services or products in connection with their 2012 federal tax returns. Plaintiffs all sought to claim an education tax credit, the American Opportunity Credit, as part of their 2012 tax returns. The American Opportunity Credit is a refundable credit. In order to claim the credit, taxpayers were required to file an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8863 with their tax returns. Plaintiffs allege that, starting with the 2012 tax year, the IRS began to require that certain information be entered in the eligibility lines on Form 8863 to indicate qualification for the tax credit. HRB's tax preparation services and software allegedly continued to leave the pertinent sections of the form blank, affecting all returns involving Form 8863 filed by HRB prior to February 23, 2013. The IRS placed into its Error Resolution System for further processing more than 500,000 individual tax returns prepared by HRB, its franchisees, or individual taxpayers using HRB online or software products and claiming the American Opportunity Credit on Form 8863. This allegedly resulted in a delay in the issuance of tax refunds to plaintiffs, causing damages to plaintiffs. All of the actions are brought on behalf of putative nationwide or state classes of HRB customers who submitted Form 8863 with their 2012 tax returns and whose tax refunds were delayed. All of the actions assert claims for breach of contract and negligence, and most also assert violations of various state consumer protection statutes. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined that the HRB IRS Form 8863 cases filed in various courts around the country involved common questions of fact, and that centralization of the cases was appropriate. Based on a number of factors, the Judicial Panel determined that the Western District of Missouri was an appropriate forum. All HRB IRS Form 8863 cases were then ordered to be transferred to the Western District of Missouri, and assigned to the Honorable Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. to coordinate discovery and other pretrial matters. Subsequent HRB IRS Form 8863 cases filed in federal court will ordinarily be transferred to the Western District of Missouri and become part of MDL No. 2474 as a "tag along" case. Once discovery and other pretrial matters have been concluded, the cases that constitute MDL No. 2474 shall be transferred back to the district in which the case was originally filed, for trial or other proceedings.