Trained Urban Planner Turned Franchisee Passes Half Century Mark with Tax Career
Business success fuels long-term commitment to tax business
David Platt was in college when he started working for an H&R Block franchisee supporting the management team and learning taxes. That was a start of a 54 year career in taxes. And there’s no end in sight.
David’s story could be all about the numbers:
- He’s been married to Teresa for 46 years.
- Platt oversaw 40 to 50 offices as part of the management team for the franchisee, before he purchased his own franchise.
- He stayed with the franchisee for 12 years until he had the opportunity to buy a franchise office in 1975.
- He was 31 when bought his franchise H&R Block office in Price, Utah, population 8,505.
- His home is 120 miles from his H&R Block office.
- He made the drive daily for eight years.
- His commute took him along what was once the fifth most dangerous highway including a sometimes-treacherous mountain pass.
- Three family members work with him. His wife, one son and one daughter prepare taxes.
From adding machines to computers to IBM Watson
Platt recalls beginning in the business before calculators were invented.
“We had only adding machines. You used a reciprocal chart for division and when we got a 12 inch cube machine, it cranked out division. You’d walk from your desk to the machine to input a calculation and then wait for the answer.”
The first year H&R Block introduced computers to his tax office, “If they don’t work, we’ll just push them aside and do taxes the way we’ve always done them.” But today, Platt says, “I wouldn’t let them go.”
Computers and his tax knowledge allow him to work “what if” scenarios with his clients and talk about the impact life changes have on their taxes.
“In the 70’s when a client wanted to talk about what might happen in their life, we were completing entire forms for each scenario. Today, we can have endless conversations with clients about their possible life changes and tax impacts.”
This year, H&R Block introduced a new, exclusive, consumer-facing experience that incorporates IBM Watson. The technology will be used by H&R Block’s tax professionals, including those at Platt’s Price office, to help deliver the best outcome for each unique tax situation, while helping clients better understand how different filing options can impact their tax outcome.
Getting into the tax business an unexpected life change
Platt hadn’t always planned to be in the tax preparation business. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics and a Master of Science in urban planning and development. He interviewed at a city planning department but when he was offered the job, he realized he didn’t want to leave the tax business.
Tax advice at the corner store, café and coffee shop
Platt is often recognized in Price. He fields tax questions at many of the local businesses he visits.
“People ask about situations they don’t know how to handle on their taxes. I explain the details but often, they come to see me because people don’t want to make a mistake on their taxes.”
When it comes to taxes, even the basic terms can be confusing.
“When we still prepared returns with pencil, paper and a calculator, I met with a young couple. Knowing that many in the community worked in the coal mines, I asked, ‘Are you a miner?’ The young man responded, ‘No, I am 21.’ I was asking his occupation but he was talking about his age.”
A long career in any business doesn’t often reach the half century mark. For Platt, his 54-year career has seen an evolution of technology, the beginning and growth of a family and a lot of reward in running his own business.
By Lisa Patterson
Lisa Patterson has been a member of the H&R Block newsroom since 2012. She supports efforts to educate consumers and members of the media about taxes and company happenings. Before helping tax professionals talk taxes with the media, Patterson was a consultant for small companies running social media efforts, blogs, events and product marketing. She spent more than 10 years in local government managing communications for city operations, fire and the city manager. Patterson holds two degrees from University of Kansas: a Bachelor's in Business with an emphasis in marketing and a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications.