H&R Block schools students on taxes

Calgary-based H&R Block Canada is trying to change taxes' bad rap with the Calculatron, a Facebook application aimed at college, university and

Calgary-based H&R Block Canada is trying to change taxes’ bad rap with the Calculatron, a Facebook application aimed at college, university and

high school students.

‘Students make up a large population of our clients, and we’re always trying to find new ways to come into contact with them,’ says H&R Block senior tax analyst Cleo Hamel. ‘This is another opportunity we decided to jump into, because everybody’s into Facebook these days.’

Students can enter their income, province, tuition and tax withheld into the Calculatron to receive an estimated return. Then they can spend it in the Social Life Simulator, which offers an array of virtual activities, from dinner and a movie to piercings and tattoos.

The app will be pushed through emails advertising the $29.99 2008 tax return special. Users can invite friends to join them on their cyber-splurges, and all Facebook activity is logged in a user’s News Feed.

‘If I’ve been on there four or five times a day for the last week, anybody watching is going to wonder why and check it out,’ says Hamel. ‘And the viral infection thing is just catching on, so for us it’s great, because people will see our brand a little more often.’

Designed by H&R Block’s AOR, Due North Communications, and built by Dashboard, both of Toronto, the app is geared to student incomes under $30,000. The application currently has 2,725 users, 218 daily active users and 31 fans.