An estimated nearly 20 million Americans are saddled with significant tax debt. Among them, approximately 10 percent retain professional help and around 10 percent attempt to resolve the situation themselves. That leaves a whopping 80 percent who let their tax issues linger. Recognizing this, CPA and tax and accounting industry veteran Kelly Coughlin created a solution.
Coughlin and his team created Tax Resolution Help Center in 2020, offering consumers a three-tier method to address their tax problems and save thousands of dollars in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Coughlin compares his company’s role in the tax debt resolution field to how Uber revolutionized the ridesharing industry.
“Like the taxi business, this (tax debt resolution) industry has drivers who don’t know their way
around the city, prey on unsophisticated visitors, and overcharge for their services,” Coughlin explained. “We equip taxpayers to deal with tax debt themselves and make a more informed decision if they determine they want professional help.
“We empower taxpayers with information; not scare them with fear to resolve their tax debt,” Coughlin added. “We also equip and assist other tax and accounting professionals to help their clients who have tax debt. Education, empowerment, and encouragement are our key words. The industry has been to frighten taxpayers until they wear them down. But this tactic has only worked on 10% of the market. We were looking for a different approach and we think we have found it.”
Here’s how the Tax Resolution Help Center (TRHC) works. TRHC utilizes its three-tier tax resolution method called TriTax. Tier 1, taxpayers can participate in members-only education that offers resources to help resolve their tax debt on their own through group coaching, virtual open office sessions, group online video and audio classes, and articles. Tier 2, they can pay an expert to coach them one-on-one for an hourly fee. Or Tier 3, consumers can pay a tax expert to fully handle their tax debt issue.
Just like Uber, who needed drivers to take care of customers; Coughlin’s team has been carefully and selectively building a stable of tax experts. “We have spent significant resources and attention to identify tax experts who are honest, smart, tough with tax collectors and who have compassion and sympathy for taxpayers with tax debt,” Coughlin said. “The tax experts we continue to seek are those professionals who get more thrilled by closing a tax debt case with no tax payments to the IRS than on soliciting and closing a tax case with big fees paid to the tax expert.”
Coughlin has diverse industry experience with more than 25 years as a CPA, an executive for financial services companies, and an entrepreneur. He founded EveryDayCPA to focus on business strategy, taxes, accounting, and risk management. yet tax resolution was not among the company’s top services requested by clients. However, it was among the chief areas of complaint. In particular, Coughlin noticed about 10 percent of clients had an Internal Revenue Service or state tax debt on their personal or business balance sheets and took a closer look.
“I found that some clients had federal or state tax debts on their balance sheets, and recognized that was an area of concern for business owners and individuals,” said Coughlin, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga and an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. “That led to helping businesses and individuals with tax problems. People need help because it obviously causes emotional pressure and stress when those issues grow. They won’t go away unless they are resolved.”
Coughlin’s business model for Tax Resolution Help Center was also shaped by the fact that, of the 300,000 professional tax preparers in the United States, less than 1,200 actively work in the tax resolution business.
“That means there is an abundance of tax and accounting professionals who could and should become more familiar with tax resolution strategies and tactics,” Coughlin said. “Frequently, they see tax debt before anybody. And they can help guide their clients to a better resolution.”
When he conducted a deep dive into tax debt resolution industry, Coughlin discovered that professionals face a significant challenge finding clients because individuals who are experiencing tax debt issues are reluctant to share their concerns on social media and to family and friends.
“Life happens to people. They don’t intentionally get into tax problems. People get themselves into tough situations and have tough time getting out. In many cases, they are embarrassed to reach out for help,” Coughlin said. “And, targeting households with tax debt is similar to lawyers who approach drivers after a DUI or an accident. It seems like ambulance chasing. It’s a bit sleazy. And professional tax experts don’t like doing this.
“The Tax Resolution Help Center platform is like a professional trade show where consumers can talk to experts and learn how to resolve their tax debt,” Coughlin added. “We allow experts to have a forum where they have access to clients who need their services, which allows them to help people and grow their business.”
“Help” is a key part of the Tax Help Resolution Help Center model. Most tax debt resolution companies emphasize fear to get clients. Coughlin prefers an uplifting educational method where consumers feel empowered to tackle their tax debut issue and get a fresh start.
“We don’t like scaring taxpayers to do business with us, and clearly 80 percent of the market doesn’t like it either,” Coughlin explained. “The better way is to empower people to help themselves.”
For more information, visit www.taxresolutionhelpcenter.com.