Liberty Tax Service is an American company specializing in the preparation of tax returns for individuals and small businesses. It is the third largest tax preparation franchise in the United States. The company began in Canada in 1997 when John Hewitt, co-founder of Jackson Hewitt, acquired a Canadian tax franchisor, U&R Tax Depot. In 1998, the company became Liberty Tax Service and opened five offices in the United States. Liberty Tax Service is the primary subsidiary of Liberty Tax, Inc., a NASDAQ-traded company.
Liberty Tax Service appeared on Forbes "Top 20 Franchises for the Buck" in 2012. Liberty Tax Service is well known for its wavers, people in Statue of Liberty costumes and Uncle Sam costumes, used as a form of guerrilla marketing. On October 28, 2011, a flash mob of costumed Lady Libertys danced in Times Square to promote Liberty Tax Service and celebrate the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.
John Hewitt began his career at H&R Block as a tax preparer in 1969 and was later promoted to regional director of 250 offices. In 1982, he went on to found Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, which he grew to over 1,300 offices until it was sold for $483 million in 1997.
Entrepreneur magazine has ranked Liberty Tax Service on its “Franchise 500” list of best franchise opportunities since 1998. Liberty Tax Service is the only tax franchise on the Forbes magazine’s “Top 20 Franchises for the Buck.” (2012) In July, 2011 Vetrepreneur magazine named Liberty Tax on its "Military Friendly" franchise list. In its Summer 2011 issue, Small Business Opportunities magazine ranked Liberty Tax one of the "75 Hot Franchises to Get into Now". In June, G.I. Jobs named Liberty Tax Service on its list of "Military Friendly" franchises.
Olive Tree Publishing, Inc., the publisher of the Black EOE Journal, the Hispanic Network Magazine, and the Professional Woman’s Magazine, announced that Liberty Tax Service has been recognized in their publications the past three years. Liberty Tax Service is the only tax service that was included on the list of "25 Top Franchises for Hispanics" in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011 published by Poder, formerly Hispanic Enterprise magazine.
Liberty tax has been the subject to criticism related to their business practices. Many of these have become the subject of legal actions by former franchise owners and some state attorneys general: