KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Tax preparation company H&R Block Inc. said Thursday that the total number of tax returns it has processed this tax season is up nearly 7 percent from last year, driven by big gains in customers who file online.
The company released the first of three progress reports for its tax season. Thursday's report reflected tax returns filed between the beginning of the company's fiscal year last spring and Feb. 15th.
H&R Block said digital tax returns rose 16.7 percent in that period compared to the year before, led by online growth. Retail tax returns rose by 2.1 percent while total returns rose by 6.7 percent.
"It is still early, but we believe that we are clearly on pace to gain share in both our retail and digital channels this tax season," CEO Bill Cobb said in a statement.
The company said returns could be higher this year in part because of an easier comparison. In 2011, the tax season was delayed because the IRS could not accept certain filings prior to Feb. 14, H&R Block said. As a result, the company said it expects growth in total filings to be moderate for the rest of February.
Shares in H&R Block were up 32 cents, or 2 percent, at $16.44 in extended trading following the release of the tax-return report. They had ended the regular session down 7 cents at $16.12.