Here are three sure signs of the pending apocalypse:
1. Krispy Kreme tells you to drink your doughnuts.
2. Donald Trump rolls out a new fragrance for men.
3. Your accountant encourages you to play his own personal brand of lotto.
Yep, maybe it's time to buy that fallout shelter, folks, for all three of these things are 100% true. They've actually happened -- even No. 3 on the list. Accountant H&R Block (NYSE: HRB ) is, through today, offering a scratch-off card game that allows tax preparation clients to potentially double their 2004 refund from the Internal Revenue Service. (The winnings top out at $10,000.)
Here's how it works: You file a return, you get a card. Your card matches two amounts -- or the more magical "Double Your Refund" message -- and you win. Apparently, plenty of us have already collected. A rolling billboard at the company's website shows winners raking in thousands in cash.
I guess it's here that I ought to just shut up and say "congratulations," but I find all this way too much like the setting of a new Stephen King horror film to walk away happy. I mean, really, doesn't anyone remember King's The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? That was a game show, too. "Last year's winners" in the flick were ultimately proved to be a trio of dead guys. Clearly the same fate does not await Block's "Double Your Refund" winners. But the surrealistic similarities -- crooks trying to win their freedom, consumers gambling with their obligations to the Feds -- send chills down my spine. I swear I'm shutting off the TV for good if the accountant hires Running Man co-star Richard Dawson as its spokesperson.
Gimmicks appear to have been good for H&R Block. Last Thursday, the firm announced stellar earnings, sending the stock higher by nearly 10% as of Friday's market close. Since consumers love a good gag that might fatten their wallets, I expect the good times to continue. But shouldn't we all demand better of ourselves, Fools? Is trusting a gag really the best way to choose your accountant? Uh, no, I don't think so. Take a look instead at this free advice on how to choose a financial professional who won't blow your savings on lotto. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go buy some lumber for that shelter.
For related Foolishness:
- Gimmick or no, H&R Block's shares are trading on the cheap.
- The IRS wants you to e-everything.
- Quit giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers hasn't bought a lottery ticket in more than 10 years. But that doesn't mean he doesn't like the occasional bet. What's your preferred game of chance? Let us know at the Gamblin' Fools discussion board. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile, which is here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.