Tennessee Economic Stories: Nicholas Holland
Nicholas Holland, referred to as a “serial entrepreneur” by the Nashville Business Journal, is the creative mind behind the latest new media venture, Populr.me, which helps clients create quick and effective one-page websites. Nicholas stepped down as CEO of CentreSource Interactive Agency to launch Populr.me, but continues to be active in the business. To help support other local entrepreneurs, Nicholas also co-founded JumpStart Foundry, Nashville’s first microfund aimed at investing in startups. CentreSource and Populr.me were made possible through Nicholas’ vision and willingness to undertake a tremendous personal financial burden to get these companies started. He is forced to think creatively about how to structure his businesses to adapt as they expand in scope and number of employees. Unfortunately, the Hall Tax has become a nemesis for Nicholas—an obstacle to growth that he hopes lawmakers will address. “I founded CentreSource in 2003 and we’ve grown to about 40 employees. Now that the company is stable, I am launching a second company, which requires the majority of my time and energy,” explains Holland. “Rather than continue to draw a salary as CEO of CentreSource, I would like to shift that position and begin drawing a moderate income from my shares, or stock in the company. However, I am reluctant to do so because of the impositions of the Hall Tax, which subject me to heavy penalties if I begin to draw income from my shares. Effectively, this deters and tremendously hinders me in my goals to expand.” Nicholas, who was bestowed with the Nashville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award recognizing leading young professionals in 2012, wants to debunk the perception that the Hall Tax is only applicable to retirees or the wealthy. “I would first say that no one, or at least no small business entrepreneur I know, goes into business for themselves with the intent to get rich. In fact, often times—as was the case for me—small business entrepreneurs leave well paying jobs with lots of built in security to risk going out on their own and often make less than they did when they were with their previous employers,” he notes. Yet, Nicholas also acknowledges that the Hall Tax will affect his decisions as he plans for his own retirement. “One of the reasons Tennessee is often touted as a good place to do business is because we supposedly don’t impose an income tax. However, the Hall Tax is not only an income tax, but an income tax of the worst kind: it punitively punishes a segment of our population, namely the elderly, who have taken risks with their hard-earned dollars and hope to see their risks pay off,” espouses Nicholas. Not only does this successful small business owner face current challenges from the Hall Tax for his burgeoning companies and his own retirement, but he must also now grapple with the issue when considering his mother’s financial well being. “My father recently passed away and my mother—who would be considered very middle class—received some financial assistance through my father’s insurance. We have discussed placing those funds into stocks that would give her a fixed income necessary for her retirement. However, the Hall Tax makes this an unlikely option for us. Lawmakers should remember that seniors are among the most vulnerable of our population and the impacts this tax has is not just limited to those individuals, but also to their families, who face the burden of assisting or providing for their loved ones,” Nicholas reminds. To learn more about Beacon’s efforts to reform the Hall Tax, click here.