Billy and Laura Killion owned a Sizzler franchise in Ontario, Oregon. The restaurant employed thirty-two people (sixteen full-time and sixteen part-time), and the Killions had spent most of their lives working there. Billy had started working at the Sizzler in 1986 as a dishwasher, and Laura in 1987 as a salad bar attendant. They started dating and were married a year later, then bought the restaurant for themselves in 1997. Most of their employees have been with the restaurant for many years, some since the very beginning.
Billy contacted Jeff Merkley for help with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The restaurant had gone through some very tough economic times from 2003 to 2005 and had built up a sizeable tax liability. They acknowledged the debt, but during those lean years, they had no choice but to delay paying some taxes – the only other option would’ve been to close the business. They were now prepared to pay the typical penalties and interest charges. Additionally, they had an offer for additional financing from a private real estate investor; they just needed the IRS to issue an official “offer in compromise” with the specific payoff amount. However, the IRS was unreasonably delaying action, despite the Killions extensive efforts to fulfill repeated and burdensome information requests from the IRS. The situation had been dragging on for a couple years, and the restaurant was approaching dangerously close to bankruptcy. Without that investment, the restaurant might have gone under, and the only thing standing in the way was the IRS.
Jeff’s staff jumped on the case and cut through the red tape, helping the Killions and their tax attorney deliver all of the final pieces of information to the IRS. Next, they convinced the IRS to expedite preparation of the “offer in compromise.” That offer was fully established and accepted about a month later.
Since then, the business has flourished. In August of 2012, they even dropped the franchise and re-opened the restaurant under their own name — Killion’s Beef, Reef, and Buffet (currently at 4 stars on Yelp!). This is an excellent example of Senator Merkley’s commitment to supporting local business owners and helping cut through red tape.