Alissa Hollinger, CEO at Hollinger Tax Resolution, was interviewed on Mission Matters Business Podcast by Adam Torres.
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Over the years, Alissa Hollinger has seen the dark side of tax debt. The day she encountered a suicide over a debt to the IRS, her commitment was galvanized to help families and businesses navigate their way toward resolution.
“I want to give people information, help them get what they need, help them take their life back,” Hollinger says. “That’s ultimately what I try to do.”
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Tell us about Hollinger Tax Resolution.
“We’re an emergency room for troubled taxpayers,” Hollinger says. “I would say one in seven (people) has a severe tax problem. But people don’t talk about it. People come in, when they call us, they’ve often had our name or number for 12 months, and they’re so afraid. They’re so overwhelmed.” In other words, she explains, Hollinger Tax Resolution helps its clients resolve IRS issues and get their lives back.
How do taxpayers end up in trouble with payroll taxes?
According to Hollinger, most small business owners have cash flow problems. Many are good at what they do, but accounting or payroll taxes is where they struggle. It’s common for them to invest extensively in equipment or other business necessities and find it difficult to pay their taxes.
A majority of the time, she says, payroll taxes are what get a small business into trouble. Income tax is dependent on how they set up their business, and the problem almost always arises because there’s not enough money.
“One of the hard conversations that I have with business owners at times is to ask if your business is viable,” she explains. “If you can’t pay your current taxes and run your business, that means you don’t have a business that you should be in.”
The IRS takes payroll taxes more seriously than any other type of tax, she notes. Seventy-five percent of all taxes collected in the US are payroll taxes, and the government penalizes taxpayers hard; sometimes even closing their businesses.
When and why should taxpayers reach out to a pro?
Usually, with taxpayers and business owners, there is hope, Hollinger says. Most people don’t understand the complex and ever-changing tax rules, so no matter what the amount owed might be, it’s almost always beneficial to work with a professional. No matter how dire the circumstances might seem, she says, there’s always a solution.
“The first step is the hardest because you’re admitting ‘I need help’ or ‘I don’t understand,’” Hollinger notes. “When business owners get notices, they need to read them (and) call the IRS or get professional help if they don’t understand.”
What mistakes do taxpayers make when they owe the IRS?
In some cases, taxpayers with issues may not understand the magnitude of the situation at first and get into deeper trouble over time by ignoring the problem, Hollinger says. “If they can’t pay the IRS, it’s figuring out what they can pay on what they owe. (Further), they need to figure out what they owe based on the rules, not what the IRS says they owe.”
When taxpayers ignore the IRS, she explains, they miss opportunities to slow down or halt the process. When that happens, professionals have to work a lot harder to protect them.
“Taxpayers are terrified when they get notices from the IRS,” she says. “Once we figure out what they have to pay, what they owe, (and) what they can afford to pay, then we can figure out what program is going to work to get them back on track.”
She notes that the IRS has programs and tools to help taxpayers, but they’re not particularly accessible, and it’s the taxpayer’s responsibility to figure it out. Hollinger Tax Resolution can determine what program makes sense; “We develop a process to implement that strategy and get them to the other side,” she says.
What’s next for Hollinger Tax Resolution?
“We’re constantly training and learning,” Hollinger notes. “We participate in a lot of professional groups, so we have the inside scoop of what’s going on in the IRS. We are prepared for whatever is coming our way. It is essential because taxpayers don’t usually know what’s going on. We’re preparing ourselves and our team to help as many people (as we can).”
Hollinger says nearly 15 million people in the US currently have tax problems. Hollinger Tax Resolution is there to help.
Visit 501tax.com to learn more.