From the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Collecting IOUs for the IRS

If you open a letter from the IRS directing you to withhold an employee's wages to pay for his or her back taxes, congratulations. You've just become our nation's newest (unpaid) revenue collection agent.

Don't worry, the employee received notification weeks before you did, says Kelly Wiessner, payroll editor at human resources Web portal Firstdoor.com. You may not be breaking the bad news, but your collection-agent status could poison your relationship with the employee-unless you take certain precautions.

"It's a bad idea to execute the process in a clinical manner," says Wiessner. That means it may not be a good idea to hand the matter over to your payroll specialist. Instead, give it to the person who specializes in sensitive issues such as firings-who, of course, may be you.

Over the next few months, don't assume a failure to pay taxes implies anything about your employee's ability to work well at your company. (After all, a medical condition or an estranged spouse could be to blame.) "An employee would have a good case if any discrimination occurred on account of this," says Wiessner.

Finally, help your worker find solutions to his or her IRS-induced cash crunch. If the employee has direct deposit, says Wiessner, ask whether any automatic withdrawals might bounce due to the decreased funds. Your employee may thank you later for remembering crucial details.

Hot (Jobs) for Teacher

With summer now starting, you may be one of many entrepreneurs welcoming students into your business as seasonal employees. You could take that idea one step further. Teachers enjoy the same flexible summer schedule as students, and not all of them choose to travel during their summer breaks.

"[A summer job is] an excellent way for teachers to experience something other than teaching," says Craig Allmendinger, vice president and co-founder of SeasonalJobs.net, a Web site that helps bring together seasonal employers and potential employees.

Even if your needs don't obviously correspond with the skills or job preferences a teacher might have, don't assume this is a resource you can't tap. Though they say the best reasons to be a teacher are June, July and August, you may discover these folks to be willing, talented workers who'd rather make money than vacation.


Chris Sandlund is a former editor of Success magazine. E-mail him at chrissandlund@entrepreneur.com.