After two months of being unable to travel to meet with clients or to sponsor or participate in seminars and conferences, American expat-focused organizations, wealth and tax managers and advocacy groups have turned in growing numbers to videos, webinars and podcasts as a means of staying in touch with their respective audiences.
Many of these companies and organizations had already been increasing their output of such online materials over the last year or so, as technology has made them easier and cheaper to produce, but the global coronavirus pandemic lockdown has prompted many to boost their output even more.
Some say that as they are doing so, they are making more use of such webinar services providers as PodBean.com, Zoom, GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar, rather than relying as much as many used to on YouTube, which they note is possibly better suited to providing entertainment than educational material.
One of the biggest users of the online video to reach would-be and existing clients in the expat space in recent years has been Anthony Parent, pictured left, managing partner of Parent & Parent LLP, a Wallingford, Connecticut-based tax specialist which also goes by the name IRS Medic.
Parent has an IRS Medic "channel" on YouTube, which he says has been going "seriously" since 2011. "It really took off with [our coverage of the IRS's OVDP [Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program OVDP] and FBARs."
Thus far he's posted some 405 videos, and the site claims to have some 8,620 subscribers.
"Each day, between IRSMedic.com and our YouTube channel, we help between 2,000 and 7,000 people around the globe find answers to their IRS concerns," the company says, on the "about us" page of its website.
Parent told The American Expat Financial News Journal this week that he plans to continue with the YouTube videos, but that IRS Medic is also beginning to expand in the direction of doing webinars as well – as he thinks others in the industry are also doing, an observation also mentioned by others.
"YouTube can really punish you for having more education than entertainment," he explains.
"People click off tecky explanations pretty quickly. And when people click off your videos, that will really punish your channel [in the eyes of YouTube]. So you tend to have to shape your content with the understanding that your viewers will have a limited context, [with the result that you can't get very] deep into anything.
"So, because of these YouTube limitations, we are moving more into the webinar format. But we will do both, we won't be giving up YouTube.
"YouTube is great for the general public, but if you are trying to reach professionals and influencers, webinars are better, because they enable you to get straight into the hard issues, without having to worry so much about losing peoples' attention."
ACA launches podcast and 'TaxCast' series
As this publication has been reporting for the last few months, another organization that has been becoming more active in terms of producing webinars and podcasts has been the American Citizens Abroad, which actually launched a new series of online podcasts last November on "issues concerning Americans resident abroad".
At that time, at least, the series didn't seem to be intended to replace face-to-face presentations or events, but rather, to simply reach more ACA members and other American expats around the world than any single event ever could.
This ACA podcast series, which the Rockville, Maryland-based organization said it planned to post on its website on the second Tuesday of each month, kicked off with ACA executive director Marylouise Serrato discussing the organization's recent write-in campaign calling for Congress to hold hearings on tax reform for Americans overseas.
Having now posted several of these podcasts, the ACA meanwhile, on March 31, unveiled another online product, which it's calling its "ACA TaxCast" series. Although the ACA said it originally planned to make the TaxCasts monthly, it has ended up posting new episodes every two weeks instead, in response to what it says is the need on the part of its members and others in the American expatriate universe to stay up-to-date on rapidly-changing issues having to do with the coronavirus issue in particular, such as the U.S. government's stimulus payment program.
Indeed, the first TaxCast episode, (which may still be heard by clicking here), features the ACA's Serrato discussing the then-just-announced U.S. coronavirus economic stimulus program with Glen Frost, managing partner of Frost & Associates LLC, a Washington, D.C.-area tax law specialist (and recently named president of the ACA's sibling organization, the American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation).
The ACA's next scheduled TaxCast, which is due to go live on May 29, will be Part 2 of a recent interview with Kostelanetz & Fink LLP's Caroline Ciraolo, which, as noted in The American Expat Financial Journal's summary of Part 1, will cover topics "mainly of interest to advisers, tax preparers and tax attorneys who help American expatriates with their tax filing requirements" rather than the average American expat taxpayer, whom Part I was aimed at.
The Paris-based Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), meanwhile, has also been hosting and posting free webinars, such as one last month that featured Monte Silver, the Israel-based American expat lawyer who recently joined the AARO's board, and who was named chair of its tax committee, and Katelynn Minott, managing CPA and partner of Bright!Tax, a globally-focused online American expat tax specialist firm.
That April 7 webinar detailed how American citizens and Green Card holders could go about obtaining their one-off payment from the government, as well as other issues, in two sessions that were timed in order to accommodate listeners around the world. Afterwards, a recording of the webinar was posted on the AARO webinar, where it remains today, although unlike the ACA's webinars, it's accessible only to AARO members. (Information about becoming an AARO member may be found here.)
Another entity that is starting to launch webinars aimed at its sophsiticated audience of experts in the cross-border tax and regulation space has been Hampshire, England-based TConsult, founded by Ross McGill, a regular expert participant on other entities' webinars. TConsult's first scheduled webinar, specifically aimed at those working in the industry in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore, will take place on May 27, and will be on the subject of U.S. withholding tax.
The presentation will take place in English, but with a Mandarin introduction and subtitles and slides, according to a TConsult spokesperson, and will cover "the basics of U.S. withholding tax – documentation, withholding, reporting and governance, including the most common operational and compliance errors, and the penalties that firms face for non-compliance".
The benefits of being a QI (qualified intermediary), as well as other aspects of being a QI and NQI, for financial institutions in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, will also be addressed. ("The U.S. government treats non-qualified intermediaries that give their customers access to the U.S. securities market as facilitators of tax evasion," is an excerpt of a longer explanation of some of the topics to be covered.) The webinar will begin at 3pm Taipei time (9am UK time).
To register for the TConsult webinar, click here.
John Richardson, the Toronto-based lawyer behind the Citizenship Solutions blog, which has been running since 2012, has long been one of the expat American community's most prolific producer of webinars and podcasts. There's a historic element to this: after the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act was signed into law in 2010, but before it came into force in 2014, Canadians affected by it were among its earliest and most outspoken critics, as evidenced by the fact that by 2011 an anti-FATCA blog, the IsaacBrockSociety.ca, was already up and running (and still going strong today). That same year, Canada's then-finance minister, Jim Flaherty, an outspoken FATCA critic, sent a letter to several major U.S. publications in which, in reference to FATCA, said: "Put frankly, Canada is not a tax haven. People do not flock to Canada to avoid paying taxes."
Richardson, who is also also co-chair of the Alliance For The Defence Of Canadian Sovereignty, which has been challenging FATCA in the Candian courts, says he did his first webinar in 2014, when he interviewed former Amercan Foreign Service officer Andrew Grossman.
Among some of Richardson's most recent podcasts, which went live in the past week, are one in which he discusses, with four other American expatriates, based in Canada, France and Australia, the fact that some renounced American citizens and some foreigners who have never been Americans have been reported to be receiving coronavirus economic stimulus payments, even though some Homeland Americans are not being given them because they have been filing their tax returns jointly with non-U.S. citizen spouses who lack Social Security numbers.
The same panel of commentators also participated in another podcast on the topic of relinquishing U.S. citizenship; another new one concerns the question as to whether giving expatriates the right to vote means that it's okay to tax them.
Earlier this month, Richardson hosted a podcast on the topic of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, while one of his most popular was an interview he did with Dubai-based tax expert Virginia La Torre Jeker, on the subject of "Looking for Mr. FBAR".
AmCham Hong Kong
American Chambers of Commerce around the world are exploring the possibilities of podcasts and webinars as well. On June 5, AmCham Hong Kong is set to host what it says will be its first-ever "online conference" on How Hong Kong might best prepare for a future that's expected to be characterized by longer life expectancies, new technologies and other changes, multi-generational work forces, co-working, online learning, and new start-ups – and what issues policy and lawmakers may need to address as a result.
The conference is set to begin at 1pm Hong Kong time, with opening remarks, which will be followed at 1:15pm by a panel discussion on "2020 & Beyond: How Will Hong Kong's Future Work?". At 2pm, a second panel discussion will begin, on "People Vs Tech: Some Are More Equal Than Others". It will wrap up with a third panel discussion entitled "My Boss Is A Robot (And Other Horror Stories)".
Participants will include various business leaders and experts from Hong Kong's business community. More information and registration details may be found by clicking here.
Dunhill Financial, the Europe-based American expat advisory firm founded by Brian Dunhill, is among the growing number of consumer-facing firms that have been boosting their presence through free, online webinars. The Listings page of The American Expat Financial News Journal has featured a number of Dunhill Financial events lately, the most recent of which, on Wednesday, was actually aimed at other advisers, and was entitled "How to advise American expats (in a compliant manner)".
The next scheduled Dunhill Financial webinar will take place on July 15, and will be a "Second Quarter Economic Update". According to the firm, Brian Dunhill will lead a discussion and analysis of the world economy as it looks at that point, as the second-quarter comes to an end, and what they future is likely to hold in store for investors. The webinar will begin at 2:30pm British Summer Time (3:30pm CEST) and will run for about an hour, ending with a Q&A session.
For more information and to sign up for the July 15 webinar, click here.
Frank Hirth: Part 2 added
‘in response to demand’
London-based Frank Hirth, one of the few major U.K. accounting firms that specialize in looking after Americans abroad, has announced that it is adding a second instalment of its initial “Will-planning for U.S./UK-connected persons” – which took place on May 20, and which may be downloaded by clicking here – in response to that first instalment’s “huge success”. The second instalment, on Friday, May 29, at 3pm British Summer Time, will address “in greater detail” some of the topics mentioned in the first part, and also offer viewers an opportunity to have their questions answered by Frank Hirth’s will-writing experts.
In particular, the second installment will cover “the particular challenges and considerations” that need to be considered when creating wills for US/UK individuals, as well as the way trusts and estate-planning vehicles may be used by those who are looking for the best way to pass their wealth on to their beneficiaries, and how this is governed by the existing UK/U.S. estate tax treaty.
A recording of the second part of the webinar will be available to listen to on the Frank Hirth website afterwards, the way the first part is now, the company said. Among the scheduled participants in the May 29 edition of the will-writing webinar will be Frank Hirth director Sarah Farrow, Charles Russel Speechlys LLP partner Mark Summers, and Butler Snow LLP partner Chris McLemore, all of whom participated in the first webinar.
To register for the May 29 webinar, click here.
The "Will-planning for U.S./UK-connected persons" webinar is part of Frank Hirth's ongoing "Let's Stay Connected" series.
IRS: 'Webinars for tax practitioners'
Even the IRS is doing webinars – on, what else, tax topics.
Not all of them are of interest to those with tax issues outside of the U.S., but as it happens, next Thursday (May 28) there's one on 'Tax obligations of Americans living and working abroad'.
Although part of an IRS series it says is aimed at tax practitioners, the IRS notes that this free, 120-minute webinar is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about American expats' tax obligations.
Topics scheduled to be covered include a general overview of the U.S. income tax obligations of American citizens and resident aliens abroad; what you need to do to claim the foreign earned income exclusion; and a summary of the U.S. employment tax obligations of U.S. citizens and resident aliens abroad.
The webinar will take place at 2pm Eastern Standard Time, which is 11am Pacific Time, and 7pm British Summer Time, 8pm Central European Summer Time.
Information about other IRS webinars may be found by clicking here.
Editor's note: To learn about videos, webinars, podcasts that are scheduled to happen in the days, weeks and months to come, don't forget to check the American Expat Financial News Journal's Listings page, near the top of our Home page, regularly. And if you're planning to post or air a live video, webinar or podcast, or host any other kind of event, do let us know, so we can add it to the Events page for the day in question.
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