Christine and Michael go back all the way to 1998, when Michael was buying huge numbers of names from TaxLienLists.net. Christine started out in 1996 while working for a trucking company, where a friend shared the latest technological advance with her later known as the World Wide Web. One of the family members came up with the idea of collecting government records online, and this developed into a business selling that information to CPA’s, enrolled agents, and tax attorneys. In February, Christine will have been with the company for 21 years.
[7:00] Tax collection enforcement tends to swing back and forth like a pendulum, and it appears that we’re in another swing towards more enforcement with the IRS receiving an additional $200+ million in funding.
[8:40] In the late 90’s, the enforcement agents were a little overzealous. In many ways the IRS was ruining the lives of regular people because they got behind on their taxes. It was around that time that the IRS had to change their image and try to be a bit less intimidating. This change was groundbreaking for tax resolution businesses and that’s when Christine’s company really started to take off.
[12:40] Levies and liens are the two main drivers of clients to tax resolution businesses, so an increase in those means a lot of additional business for us. The IRS benefits immensely from tax resolution companies because they help collect on their behalf, which is one of the reasons that it’s such a good business to be in.
[16:00] There was a major decrease in lien filings starting in 2009, but even with that happening, Christine was still seeing plenty of successful tax resolution companies taking off.
[17:45] Federal tax liens for 2019 will likely be around half a million, similar to the last two years. Christine’s company has been able to combine the list of federal tax liens with the individual state’s tax liens, which has enabled tax resolution companies to market directly to those people. Marketing to state tax liens is a great way to get to the clients’ federal problem and get ahead of the competition. Marketing is about numbers: when the number of federal tax liens is low, go after the list of state tax liens too.
[20:00] A lien is public record, which is why federal tax liens can be compiled into a list, unlike levies which are not. There is no set standard for individual local courthouses where liens are filed. What this means is that Christine’s company has to be very flexible when collecting records.
[24:10] As a list broker, Christine collects the same information that the IRS has on file. Name, mailing address, the type of lien, and the dollar amount of the lien that was filed against them for that year. They always remind their clients that the information on the lists are just the tip of the iceberg and most people with a current lien against them owe more.
[27:30] The information Christine collects is really geared towards direct marketing, but there are companies that also use email to reach out to prospects. One thing to keep in mind is that you should expect to mail multiple times to get the best results from your marketing. If you do the mailing right with an accurate and fresh list, and a good mail piece, you should be able to get a 0.5% to 1% response rate.
[32:10] Part of the service includes a personalized letter containing the prospect’s information, as well as brochures, business cards, and other marketing pieces that you can add to the package. Christine breaks down the math on purchasing a list with 1000 names on it, where with a good closer most tax resolution companies should be able to close 50% of the people who call in to their business. The typical ROI for this kind of marketing is anywhere from 400% to 2000%.
[36:00] TaxLienLists.net services less than 55 customers nationwide and they have limited the number of clients for years, but now, with the increase in the number of tax liens, the doors are open.
[37:30] Follow-up mailings can improve those numbers even further and potentially bump the response rate up to 1% to 2%, but you have to keep in mind that no marketing list is perfect. There will always be a part of the list that’s too old or inaccurate. Part of the strategy is to record the undelivered mail as it comes back and to remove those addresses from follow-up mailings.
[43:45] Christine’s company tracks the results of their best customers over the years and what they’ve found is that follow up mailings produce paying customers. When the customer calls you, they are ready to do business. When you start follow-up mailings, a lot of the competition drops off because they only mail once.
[45:00] Sometimes a mailing can generate no calls initially, but 9 months down the road the prospects start reaching out. Follow-up mailings are seeds that you have to plant and harvest later. Always include a business card or brochure in every letter so when the prospect is ready to call, they can reach you.
[49:00] 2020 is going to be a great year for tax resolution businesses. When the IRS shut down in 2018, Christine’s company started making changes to their business and adjusted their prices and services. It was around that time that the IRS hired thousands of new agents and the Trump administration increased the budget of the IRS by $286 million, all geared towards enforcement. This all indicates a massive increase in business for tax resolution practitioners.
[56:30] One of the major changes in the IRS for 2020 is their declared focus on businesses avoiding their payroll taxes. With all of that, Christine’s company started positioning themselves for growth.
Mentioned in this episode: TaxLienLists.net Michael Rozbruch's Tax & Business Solutions Academy