Scott Curley Featured on Dallas Morning News

Scott Curley Featured on Dallas Morning News

By Arcelia Martin

February 2nd, 2023

Michael Avery is a memory of a man again. The name is no longer an alias as it was for years because its borrower ascended beyond homelessness and into entrepreneurial eminence.

He’s a co-chief executive officer of a tax resolution company with an office in Plano that ranks as an Inc. 5000 business. He feels like he’s made it and it’s time. The company’s 70-plus employees gather on a call, and he reintroduces himself by his birth name: “I’m Scott Curley, it’s nice to meet you guys.”

Curley was formerly incarcerated, spending 10 years in and out of prison for auto-theft, burglary and drug possession in the late 80s and early 2000s.

He adopted the alias because he didn’t want his past to derail the company’s potential, as both he and his business partner and childhood friend Brian Gordon saw FinishLine Tax Solutions as a chance to change course.

“I’m not ashamed,” Curley said to his staff a year-and-a-half ago on the company-wide call. “I’ve been trying to protect you and the company.”

Finishlinetax Office

 

FinishLine now ranks among the top 100 fastest-growing financial companies in the U.S., scaling its business into a shop generating more than $30 million a year in revenue since its founding six years ago.

In November 2016, Curley found himself homeless outside a bus station in Houston. Gordon had lost his job as vice president of a tax relief startup, had four kids and one on the way, and had invested thousands from the sale of his parents’ home into the initial stages of the company.

Gordon was introduced to the tax relief industry decades before through Curley, while working as a salesman. At the time, Curley was desperate for work and saw a listing in the Houston Chronicle. He figured the job would serve as a stepping stone to something else. But the work suited him.

The threat of losing everything and having a very short time to resolve it was a familiar environment for Curley and one he could navigate.

“That sense of urgency was already so profound,” Curley said. “So coupled with that, and my own ability, tenacity and salesmanship, it worked.”

Aware of Curley’s homelessness in 2016, Gordon asked Curley if he had it in him to try again, despite Gordon’s family’s hesitancy. Their longtime friendship was at the root of Gordon’s faith in taking on Curley as a business partner, Gordon said.

It propelled Curley into employment, as formerly incarcerated people often face obstacles finding stable work. Of the more than 50,000 people released from federal prisons in 2010, one-third found no employment for four years after their release, according to a 2022 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The report also showed that no more than 40% of the cohort was employed at any given time.

Curley and Gordon bought 10 tax leads for $200 each and Curley crowdsourced money to book a Super8 Motel room in Houston that would serve as his office.

FinishLine closed with $10,000 in sales after the first week. Curley and Gordon took the money to buy themselves another week at the Super8 and another $2,000 worth of leads. After three months, they were able to rent a small office space and hire a couple of sales representatives.

“It was all so unorthodox,” Curley said.

The first year, FinishLine ended with about $1 million in sales. They’ve doubled in sales nearly every year since.

FinishLine ranked 1,304 out of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held businesses in the U.S on Inc.’s 2022 list and the firm has more than 15,000 clients.

Curley’s background has presented challenges for the company. His criminal convictions bar him from receiving the type of licenses required by his staff, like becoming an enrolled agent. It also made the company vulnerable to online reviews that eventually recounted his record.

“We were so fragile,” Curley said of FinishLine in its first few years. ”Anything could have caused a big problem. Part of our problem was that Scott Curley had a felony and a criminal background.”

His adopted alias memorialized a childhood friend’s late father who cared for Curley when his family dealt with substance abuse and alcoholism. Avery was an exemplar of the type of person he wanted to become.

The firm’s success developed a confidence in the co-founder to take control of his life’s narrative and retire his alias.

‘It was so liberating,” Curley said. “I felt just such relief. I wanted Scott to own all of the good and all of the bad.”

Curley said when he told FinishLine’s staff his real name and story, he was surrounded by support and continues to be.

Curley’s memoir, Absolution: The Dark Path to Light, comes out mid-February. Now, he’s often scheduled to give talks on his life and career, including at prisons, where he frequently exchanges emails with the incarcerated men he meets.

“It’s inspiring and encouraging to others,” Gordon said. “You know, to say, ‘I turned my life around, and so can you.’ ”

In an email exchange last month, a man imprisoned at the H.H. Coffield Unit, less than two hours southeast of Dallas, said that many were upset they had missed Curley’s December visit, including one who had a copy of the Inc. magazine for him to sign.

“You’re such an inspiration to the guys, you make them believe they have shot,” the email said. “A guy came and said listening to you changed his whole outlook on life. He had never personally encountered a successful person who looks like him.”

 

How Looming Recession May Affect Tax Collections

How Looming Recession May Affect Tax Collections

The Fed is raising rates. Prices for food and fuel are skyrocketing. Signs are pointing to a recession on the horizon. And as we near the end of 2022, tax time—that time of year everyone looks forward to (sarcasm)—is also on the horizon.

As a business leader, it’s important to be proactive and recognize your limitations. Don’t try to fool the IRS and cut corners because it never turns out well.. Scott Curley, o-CEO of FinishLine Tax Solutions outlines how a recession would impact taxpayers and how the IRS will be responding to them.

Why Small Businesses Fall Victim to the Payroll Tax Trap

Why Small Businesses Fall Victim to the Payroll Tax Trap

It’s tough running a small business, and Covid-19 has only made it harder. After losing customers and struggling to survive, it’s understandable that some would be looking anywhere and everywhere for a little extra cash.

Business owners who fail to remit payroll taxes to the IRS on time and in full are vulnerable to harsh penalties. Scott Curley, o-CEO of FinishLine Tax Solutions looks at the dangers of borrowing from payroll funds and how small businesses can avoid the trap.

Should we file taxes jointly or separately? A guide for couples who said ‘I do’ in 2022

In order to file a joint tax return in 2023, you have to have been legally married by Dec. 31, 2022. So as long as you got your marriage license in 2022, you’re considered married in the eyes of the IRS.

But if you got divorced or legally separated from your spouse at any point during 2022, you’re considered unmarried for the entirety of the year and cannot file a joint return.

“The system does not distinguish between parties if they file jointly,” says Curley of FinishLine. But if you file separately you won’t be liable for your spouse’s tax burden. 

Curley says “dozens” of his clients over the years ran into this issue because one spouse wasn’t transparent with the other about how much money they owe the IRS.

He recommends bringing this up with your partner before you tie the knot.

The IRS Waives $1.2 Billion in Late Fees. How You Can Take Advantage

If you haven’t filed your federal tax returns yet, or filed them later than you should have during the pandemic, you’re in luck. The IRS is issuing a refund for any late fees you paid. It’s also automatically waiving late-filing penalties currently. The agency says this amounts to about $1.2 billion dollars.

One way taxpayers can take advantage of this waiver is to apply credits for the waived fees to outstanding tax balances. Most people who haven’t filed also typically owe back taxes. The two often go hand in hand. The fee waiver gives a unique opportunity to taxpayers to apply this money towards those back taxes, with an eye on preparing to meet all future filing requirements.

Inc5000 Magazine Spotlight on FinishLine Co-Founders

Inc5000 Magazine Spotlight on FinishLine Co-Founders

Scott Curley and Brian Gordon, Co-CEOs of FinishLine Tax Solutions, a firm that negotiates tax resolution agreements for clients that have tax problems share their story. Leading with Heart, these leaders approach tax relief by putting customers first. FinishLine is self-funded and focused on impact as opposed to cash. The partners are confident that they have the talented and experienced team in place to achieve continued explosive growth.

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