John T. Hewitt (born 1949 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American entrepreneur, the co-founder of Jackson Hewitt and sole founder of Liberty Tax Service. As of late 2006 Hewitt served as CEO, chairman of the board and president of the latter. Together these companies account for more than 10,000 tax preparation offices in the United States and Canada. In addition, John Hewitt was a pioneer in the development and use of specialized tax-preparation software, which is now the industry's standard practice.
Hewitt began his career in 1969, while still a student at the University at Buffalo, by attending a tax-preparation course offered by H&R Block. Finding the topic quite interesting, he subsequently obtained employment with that company as a tax preparer. By 1980 He was the youngest regional director at H&R Block running over 250 offices.
Hewitt perceived a need for technological innovation within the tax industry and he left H&R Block in order to pursue that opportunity. Working alongside his father, he pioneered the development of decision-tree tax-preparation software. However, H&R Block was not interested in this new way of doing business. This led Hewitt to found a tax-preparation service that would exploit the efficiency of the new technology.
That goal would materialize in August 1982 in Hampton Roads, Virginia after Hewitt and other investors acquired the six offices of a local tax-preparation company, Mel Jackson Tax Service and launched the "Hewtax" interview program the first of its kind in the industry. Hewitt developed the software with his father Daniel. In 1988, the company changed its name to Jackson Hewitt. By 1986, IRS personnel also began seeing the advantages of computerized filings. That year the IRS tested the electronic filing process, allowing taxpayers to directly file their taxes and bypass the mailing of returns entirely. As a leader in using technology to facilitate tax filings, Jackson Hewitt benefited considerably. Also in 1986, Jackson Hewitt began offering franchises in the United States.
By 1992 Jackson Hewitt was one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States, according to Inc. Magazine, attaining a secure second-place ranking in its industry. The company became public in 1994, and was sold for $483 million in 1997, by which time it was operating 1,345 offices.
Having left Jackson Hewitt at the time of its acquisition, John Hewitt was contractually barred from competing with it until 2000 in most of the United States. However, he decided to launch a new company which would be the vehicle for yet further innovations, Liberty Tax Service. In order not to infringe the terms of the contract with the purchasers of Jackson Hewitt, the new company initially focused its operations in Canada. Liberty Tax Service was launched there when Hewitt purchased a Canadian tax company on September 1, 1997.
The new concern has achieved a huge measure of success; its more than 4,000 offices in North America as of 2012 make it the fastest-growing major tax-preparation company in history, and put it on pace to eventually equate or overtake its older competitors. Liberty Tax Service is best known for the costumed "wavers" dressed as the Statue of Liberty used in front of the offices across the country.
Liberty Tax Service is perennially ranked in the Entrepreneur magazine ranking of the country's most successful franchises, appearing in third place in 2009.Small Business Influencer Champion Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com (2011)
International Franchise Association Entrepreneur of the Year (2006)
Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People (2000–2012)
Ernst & Young Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year (2003)