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Understanding dual taxation: it’s better to talk to the IRS than have the IRS come looking for you (We’re The Brits In America S1:E21)

Episode 21 Shownotes – Sean Kearney

Richard Taylor and Sean Kearney are in the trenches, giving you the latest reports and their unfiltered takes on what’s going in the world of investing and financial planning. Sean is the founder of Amvoy Wealth, an Irish/American financial planning and investment management firm based in Dublin and New York City.

You need to understand dual taxation. The US and Irish tax systems shouldn’t be viewed in isolation; Sean explains how they interact and how they can impact your financial planning. There are tough penalties for failing to comply with tax obligations in both jurisdictions – the penalties for not doing it if you’re found out are pretty archaic, and they’ll hurt your bank account far worse than complying.

Three main takeaways from this episode are:

  1. Complexity of Dual Taxation: Understanding and managing the tax responsibilities in two countries is crucial. Kearney points out, “We pay CGT in Ireland, we pay CGT in the US. But how does that work together?”
  2. Necessity of Specialized Advice: The importance of obtaining specialized financial and tax advice is a recurring theme. As Kearney explains, many advisors may not fully grasp the intricacies of international tax laws which can lead to severe consequences. “There’s lots of people out there that pretend that they know what to do and from my experience they don’t.”
  3. Proactive Compliance: Rich and Sean stress the importance of being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to tax compliance and financial planning. As Sean says: “It’s better to be going talking to the IRS than the IRS come looking for you.” This proactive approach can prevent severe penalties and ensure smoother financial operations across borders.

We’re the Brits in America is affiliated with Plan First Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Plan First Wealth.

Always an Expat is affiliated with Plan First Wealth LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Plan First Wealth.

Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Plan First Wealth does not provide any tax and/or legal advice and strongly recommends that listeners seek their own advice in these areas.

About Richard

Richard Taylor is a British expat, dual citizen (UK & US). Originally from Bolton, he now lives in Greenwich, CT, where Plan First Wealth has its head office.

As the firm’s leader, Richard launched Taylor & Taylor, now Plan First Wealth, and continues to fuel the firm’s growth. Richard is a Chartered Financial Planner (UK – CII) in addition to holding the IMC (CFA UK) and Series 65 (US – FINRA).

Connect with Richard on LinkedIn

About Sean

Sean Kearney works as a Cross Border Financial Planner, helping Irish individuals who are relocating, living in, or returning from the U.S. make smart, compliant, and tax-efficient decisions with their finances.

In addition to this, he works in partnership with international tax and legal experts to create comprehensive financial plans that address the complex and unique challenges and opportunities of Cross Border Wealth Management.

Connect with Sean on LinkedIn

Transcript:

Richard Taylor:
[00:00:25 – 00:01:16]
Welcome to the we’re the Brits in America podcast, a plan first wealth podcast for Brits in America by Brits in America, dedicated to helping British expats thrive in America. I’m your host, Richard Taylor, and Plan First wealth is the business I founded and run today, and we work with successful British expatriates living across the US to make the most of their opportunity and avoid the expat landmines. However, while plan First Wealth, LLC is an SEC registered investment advisor, the views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of planned first wealth. Information presented is for educational purposes only. Now, if you aren’t already receiving our weekly emails, please go to our website, www.planfirstwealth.com and sign up to wealth Hub.

Richard Taylor:
[00:01:16 – 00:01:47]
It’s free and you will then be notified every time we drop a new episode and so much more. Alrighty, let’s get back to this week’s show. Hello and welcome back to the we’re the Brits in America podcast. Today we have a from the trenches show for you where I bring in a fellow financial planner in the expat space and we bitch a moan for your entertainment jokes. We swap war stories and insights into what we see out on the front lines every day in the hope that maybe you can benefit from our experience and frankly, learn from the mistakes of others.

Richard Taylor:
[00:01:47 – 00:02:18]
So my guest today is Shawn Carney. Shawn is the founder of Amvoy wealth, an irish us financial planning and investment management firm based out of Dublin, Ireland and New York, New York. Born in Massachusetts to irish parents raised in Ireland, Sean enjoyed a successful career as a financial pilot in Ireland and is now plying his trade in New York serving fellow irish expats. So there are many obvious parallels with what we do at planned first world for Brits in America, and I am looking forward to getting into it with Sean. So without further ado, let’s do this.

Richard Taylor:
[00:02:18 – 00:02:21]
Hi Sean. Welcome to the podcast.

Sean Kearney:
[00:02:21 – 00:02:37]
Richard, how are you? Thank you so much for having me. This is a new venture for me and my first podcast, so let’s see how it goes. Looking forward to it and let’s see where we can bring this your first podcast, Manny listened, never actually spoke on one. I’ve always said, how hard can it be?

Sean Kearney:
[00:02:37 – 00:02:41]
So I guess the next half hour, hour will tell us exactly how hard it can be.

Richard Taylor:
[00:02:41 – 00:02:47]
Oh, here we go. You’ve just ratcheted up the pressure on yourself here. Okay. So I’m delighted to pop your podcasting cherry, so to speak. Sean, let’s start with.

Richard Taylor:
[00:02:47 – 00:02:56]
Give us an abridged version of your story today. Tell us how you ended up here in this unfortunate position. Sat here talking to me, I guess.

Sean Kearney:
[00:02:56 – 00:03:15]
As you alluded to earlier, I was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, way back 50 years ago. Parents moved back to Ireland. They were both irish and grew up in Ireland. Got into, I guess, financial planning into a mutual company, irish life in Ireland, one of the bigger mutual companies in Ireland at the time. Worked there happily for a number of years.

Sean Kearney:
[00:03:16 – 00:03:43]
Financial crisis came 2011. There wasn’t even a whole pet of business happening. So I went and did the CFP qualification, became CFP, set up on my own, my own brokerage in Ireland, and kind of went from there. 2019, 2020. I was looking at, I guess I was getting a small bit disillusioned with the marketplace in Ireland, so I was looking for something different, but staying within the whole financial planning realm.

Sean Kearney:
[00:03:43 – 00:04:05]
And obviously, I had always wanted to kind of take a look at the US. Never lived there, had traveled several times. So it was an area I looked at, decided that that was something that there was a bit of a niche in. I guess, the whole piece. Dual citizens, you know, having to deal with the way the IR’s like to tax citizens, green card holders.

Sean Kearney:
[00:04:05 – 00:04:35]
Seemed interesting to me. So 2020, I went about setting up a company, getting registered with the SEC in New York. Unfortunately, COVID postponed me traveling over a bit, but, yeah, managed to get registered with the SEC, was traveling over and back, kind of doing a month in Ireland, a month over here for kind of nine months. Last kind of May, June, decided that I would throw in my lot in Ireland and moved over here permanently to kind of build a business from this side. And, yeah, I haven’t looked back since.

Richard Taylor:
[00:04:35 – 00:04:42]
So you’re relatively new, like, permanently here in the US. Just so you’ve been a us citizen since birth.

Sean Kearney:
[00:04:42 – 00:04:43]
Yes.

Richard Taylor:
[00:04:43 – 00:04:49]
When did you realize the kind of challenges, opportunities? Yes. The fact we’re here. Right. That’s the opportunity.

Richard Taylor:
[00:04:49 – 00:04:57]
Put that to one side. At what point did you realize they call them accidental Americans? When does it dawn on you, like, oh, crikey, there’s more to this than me or my parents imagined.

Sean Kearney:
[00:04:58 – 00:05:35]
I guess relatively shortly before I started looking at this business and I think it’s an issue for money. Money accidental us citizens, that is, people that are either actually born to a us citizen or born as a us citizen, they don’t realize what the requirements are with regard to the IR’s. The reality of the situation is once you hit 18, you kind of have six months at that stage to basically hand back your passport if you don’t want to be a us citizen, which many people don’t do. But after that you’re supposed to do a tax return to the IR’s on an annual basis. It’s not something that’s well advertised, it’s not something that’s pushed on you.

Sean Kearney:
[00:05:35 – 00:05:59]
But again, the penalties for not doing it if you are found out, are pretty archaic and they will certainly hurt your bank account far worse than doing them. But yeah, so the answer to that is, you know, it was only a number of years before it was actually when I started to look into kind of setting up the business over here and looking at what I was looking to do, that I realized that on an annual basis I’m supposed to do a tax return to the IR’s.

Richard Taylor:
[00:05:59 – 00:06:01]
Well that must have been a bit of a rude awakening.

Sean Kearney:
[00:06:01 – 00:06:19]
Yeah, I guess it was at the time, because you don’t understand what’s involved. There is a cost involved and I guess it’s getting it done right. It’s like everything else. There’s relatively cheap ways or inexpensive ways of getting everything done in this world. And I think as we find our way through the world we realize that cheap is rarely the best.

Sean Kearney:
[00:06:19 – 00:06:48]
It’s about getting it done right. And there is, look, there’s a streamlined process there for people which I had to avail of who hadn’t or who weren’t up to date on their us tax returns that allow you a quicker way to becoming, I guess, tax compliant. And now at the end of the day, you know, the IR’s decide whether they’re going to accept your reasons and accept your rationale for why you haven’t been. So you are a bit at the mercy of them. But in general, as I would always say, it’s better to be going talking to the IR’s than the IR’s come looking for you.

Richard Taylor:
[00:06:48 – 00:07:03]
Right? This is exactly what we say. Better to proactively repair this than to one day get a letter on your doormat or we’re in America. So when you’re postboxing under your drive, it’s way better because then the good options are gone. So when you mention streamlined, then that’s an actual process.

Richard Taylor:
[00:07:04 – 00:07:26]
We’re referring to an actual, I don’t know what the right terminology is, but Ir’s sanctioned process to come in from the cold, so to speak, when the reason you’re out in the cold is due to what they call non willful, basically it’s purely by accident. It’s through not knowing. But to your point, right, no one’s aware of this. So you find out it must be a horrible realization, right? Because first of all, you find out, oh, I am subject to us taxes and us tax returns.

Richard Taylor:
[00:07:26 – 00:07:40]
That’s going to be an unpleasant find out. Then you find out, oh, I’m also not in compliance. So yeah, I’ve got another problem. Not just got a going forward problem, I’ve got a looking backwards problem. And then you’ve got, oh, and also this means I’m probably going to be subject at some point to double taxation.

Richard Taylor:
[00:07:40 – 00:08:12]
Treaties exist to mitigate a lot of double taxation, but they don’t do away with it altogether. And then the fourth realisation is, oh, in my home country or wherever I am now, the vast majority of investments in my home currency are probably off limits to me essentially as an American. That happens to be a brutal realization. And then to your point, going through streamlined, forget paying taxes, right. For a second, you’ve got to presumably, I mean I would urge you, strongly urge you to pay someone to help you do that, a tax accountant, maybe even a tax attorney, because like you say, you want to make sure the IR’s accept it.

Richard Taylor:
[00:08:13 – 00:08:22]
So you have to go back three years. That’s going to cost money. You have to pay someone to review statement, that’s going to cost money. We’re talking thousands of dollars or euros wherever you are. That’s a lot of money.

Richard Taylor:
[00:08:22 – 00:08:23]
Yeah, that’s a lot of money.

Sean Kearney:
[00:08:23 – 00:08:47]
Yeah, yeah. There’s no question about it is an initial shock and I guess understanding the system and seeking out somebody who understands it and I guess that’s one of the big issues and it’s one of the reasons I’m over here now. At the moment there is very little option. You look in Ireland for somebody who can help you do this. There are maybe a handful of actual qualified tax advisors in Ireland who understand the cross border nature of what you’re trying to do.

Sean Kearney:
[00:08:47 – 00:09:19]
There’s lots of people out there that pretend that they know what to do and from my experience they don’t. And again, these are the guys, you know, there’s, I’m not knocking online tax returns or online tax help, but again, these are not the guys. To take a situation like this and bring you through it, as I always go back to, the cost of getting it done right is far less than the cost of doing it wrong. And just because in your mind you become tax compliant in the US, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are tax compliant and that the IR’s can still come after you. And that’s a concern 100%.

Richard Taylor:
[00:09:19 – 00:09:43]
I find people balk at the cost of specialist tax prep for expats. And I get it. It can be expensive, it can be staggering expensive, but it’s always going to be more expensive, even when it’s what I would consider to be reasonable. Because talking for our clients, brits, you’re looking for someone who understands the american tax code, who understands the british tax. We don’t have a code, but laws, and who critically understands the interaction between the two.

Richard Taylor:
[00:09:43 – 00:10:01]
That’s three layers of specialism right there that comes at a premium. You can say I’ve got tax advisors in America and a tax advisor in the UK, but if neither one of those has any inkling on the other country and the interaction between the two, that is the treaty, there are huge gaps in your affairs. And this is what we see, honestly, day in, day out.

Sean Kearney:
[00:10:01 – 00:10:20]
Yeah, that’s the big piece for people to understand. People, by their very nature, tend not to like spending money on stuff that they don’t perceive to be of value. Certainly they don’t perceive the value on this. They’d certainly perceive the value if the Ir’s came down on top of them, started applying the fines that they can potentially apply to them. But people don’t perceive that value.

Sean Kearney:
[00:10:20 – 00:10:53]
And it’s one of the things I get. I totally get from a client perspective, why they have issues with these things. But to pay 5000, $10,000, some of the people that I speak to that need to go through this process are worth multiples of multiples of that. It’s a very insignificant amount compared to their overall, I guess, wealth compared to the overall fines that they could face, but they would rather do it for some reason. We buy top of the range cars we live in, the best house we can live in, we eat in the best restaurants we can go to.

Sean Kearney:
[00:10:53 – 00:11:16]
But when we’re using a service industry, we try and get it as cheap as possible. It’s almost nonsensical. But again, part of what I like to do with clients, when I sit down with clients is try to make them understand what it is, a, that they have, and b, what it is that we’re trying to achieve with it and why we’re trying to achieve this. I don’t want a client. I would rather the client gave me five grand, then paid it to a tax advisor.

Sean Kearney:
[00:11:16 – 00:11:38]
Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way that I would undertake sitting down and helping a client through the streamline process. No way. Again, it’s a massive undertaking, and that’s why these guys, they need to understand it. They need to understand how the tax code, as you said in the US, works, how the tax code in Ireland works, but not just that piece, it’s how they interact. It’s one thing to say, okay, it’s a very simple piece.

Sean Kearney:
[00:11:38 – 00:11:53]
We pay cgt in Ireland, we pay cgt in the US. But how does that work together? As you say, there is a tax treaty there. It’s a strange tax treaty from my belief. I think the tax treaty is there, but the US seemed to have a veto that says, well, we interpret the tax treaty the way we want to interpret it.

Richard Taylor:
[00:11:53 – 00:11:57]
Oh, you mean the infamous savings clause? You’ve got one of them, have you?

Sean Kearney:
[00:11:57 – 00:11:57]
Yeah. Yes.

Richard Taylor:
[00:11:58 – 00:12:00]
Yeah. So american, isn’t it, that?

Sean Kearney:
[00:12:00 – 00:12:00]
Yeah, yeah.

Richard Taylor:
[00:12:00 – 00:12:04]
What about when you learn as well? Oh, there are some states that just don’t follow the treaty. California.

Sean Kearney:
[00:12:04 – 00:12:04]
Yeah. Yeah.

Richard Taylor:
[00:12:05 – 00:12:15]
So the federal government goes through all this trouble to negotiate a tax treaty. They insert a savers clause that says we can basically ignore most of this if we want to. And then California says, great, but also we’re just gonna choose not to follow it.

Sean Kearney:
[00:12:15 – 00:12:15]
Yeah.

Richard Taylor:
[00:12:15 – 00:12:19]
How do you. America. Oh God. Sometimes it just. I just.

Richard Taylor:
[00:12:19 – 00:12:20]
This place is nuts.

Sean Kearney:
[00:12:20 – 00:12:34]
And sometimes they are a law unto themselves. And look, unfortunately, it is the way it is and you’re not going to beat the system here. You can try and avoid the system. Do I know anyone that the IR’s has come down on top of? I’ve heard of them.

Sean Kearney:
[00:12:34 – 00:12:56]
I’ve never actually had a client who the IR’s have come down on top of with regard to not doing tax returns or doing incorrect tax returns, or not doing fat cast or stuff like that. We’ve all heard these stories, but the way the world is going, it’s only a matter of time. Do I see people being stopped, getting let into the country? I don’t know. Is there ever going to be a connection between Homeland Security and the IR’s?

Sean Kearney:
[00:12:56 – 00:13:19]
I don’t know, but believe you me, the US knows what we’re doing at the minute. Therefore, it’s not going to be a big deal for them to know as people travel in and out of the country who their dual citizens are. You know, you rock up to Homeland Security and you put out your irish passport or your us passport or your green card, it’s not going to be difficult for them to work out that you haven’t done a tax return in ten years or in five years.

Richard Taylor:
[00:13:19 – 00:13:47]
And Sean, just to beat this point to death to what we said before, there are solutions. Rather than have this hanging over you, you lose those good options when you come under the IR’s investigation or audit. And you also lose the better options when you cease to be non willful and you become intentional. So, you know, when you’ve brought this to people’s attention and they then choose actively to disregard it, then you lose the good options as well. So that’s something people need to be mindful of.

Richard Taylor:
[00:13:47 – 00:14:09]
And honestly, it blows my mind and I try and frame it in cost. Cause once you understand someone’s situation, you can see these weak points. We as non tax advisors can do like a rudimentary back of an envelope calculation on like, you know, if this was in front of the IR’s right now and these forms are missing and they can do what you call penalty stacking. So for each year, they can just stack a ten grand penalty for this, ten grand penalty for that, ten grand penalty for this. They can just stack it.

Richard Taylor:
[00:14:10 – 00:14:47]
Once you add up these penalties, I mean, it’s astronomical. So I try and frame it like, look, this might never happen to you, it might never catch up, but $5,000 now to voluntarily proactively rectify this coming from the cold versus a potential, let’s say, making figures up, 100,000 or more potential penalties, interest, all that stuff, then that hangs over you and grows every year, by the way, because you know, you’re then stacking each year of non, further non compliance, like really it’s not going away to your point. And I think the level of scrutiny and the information they have and the information sharing and the way they can coordinate through AI and stuff is only going to get more. So fix it again.

Sean Kearney:
[00:14:47 – 00:15:12]
The other sides with the likes of fat cat, they know first of all that you’re a us citizen and they know you have a bank account. So every us citizen, when they apply for a bank account or a financial account in Ireland takes a box that says, are you a us citizen? If they ticks, yes. Then the financial institution, the onuses and the financial institution to report annually to the US that these citizens have it. So they have this information, it’s not like they don’t have it.

Sean Kearney:
[00:15:12 – 00:15:39]
And it’s like everything else out there, you know, you can go to your bank and open an account and tell them you’re not a us citizen, but you will forget at some stage or at one account or somewhere along the line you’ll forget. And they have this information, it’s whether they decide to act on it. And it’s like kind of everything else. The pain on this is upfront. If you’re an irish citizen living in Ireland with a us passport, green card, again, a green card is a form of citizenship.

Sean Kearney:
[00:15:39 – 00:15:50]
I have met people out there who say, no, my green card’s gone out of date. It’s the same as having a passport out of date. The US still see you as a green card holder, whether it’s in date or out of date. And again, that’s something to bear in mind.

Richard Taylor:
[00:15:50 – 00:15:58]
I mean, it’s way worse than that because you’re still subject to us taxes, but you haven’t formally exited, but you also have, as far as I can tell, no right to come back in.

Sean Kearney:
[00:15:58 – 00:16:00]
So you’ve got all the bad stuff.

Richard Taylor:
[00:16:00 – 00:16:03]
None of the good stuff, and mounting liability problems.

Sean Kearney:
[00:16:03 – 00:16:21]
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, you front blow this charge. And if you take a country like Ireland, I have a tax guy over here that calls Irish the communist tax state because our tax rates are so high. The double tax agreement covers the majority. No, they cover the majority of taxes that your average person is going to come up against.

Sean Kearney:
[00:16:21 – 00:16:42]
Income tax is going to be higher in Ireland, so if you’re paying income tax, you’re not going to pay more. Income tax in the US, CGT is more, you’re not going to pay more. So the majority of your everyday taxes, you’re not going to pay any more tax. So it’s just a box ticking exercise that you need to do on an annual basis. But again, it’s a box ticking exercise that you need to do that you’re legally obliged to do.

Sean Kearney:
[00:16:42 – 00:17:06]
And I guess what I find strange and what I find funny, I talk to advisors and I’ve seen advisors, and I was that advisor back in Ireland who met people who had us assets, who I knew were us citizens. You ignored that. You kind of said, well, look, there’s nothing I can do about your us peace because I know nothing. And that was one of the reasons I came over here, because I was coming up against that and I seen that, you know, there is an opportunity here. So again, from my business perspective, I have two businesses.

Sean Kearney:
[00:17:06 – 00:17:22]
One is regulated with the central bank in Ireland and one is registered with the SEC here in New York. So I can look after assets on both sides of the Atlantic. But again, people were ignoring that in Ireland. Now, if I sat down with a client in Ireland and I said to them, are you paying tax? And they said to me, no, I’m not paying tax.

Sean Kearney:
[00:17:22 – 00:17:40]
In fact, I’m actually just laundering money here because that’s what they’re doing. If they’re not declaring their taxes, they are not tax compliant. Therefore what they’re doing is illegal. You wouldn’t do it sitting with an irish client in Ireland. So why are you letting these Irish clients away with not doing a tax return to the US?

Sean Kearney:
[00:17:40 – 00:17:44]
And again, look, hands up, I was guilty of it back in my early days when I was an advisor.

Richard Taylor:
[00:17:44 – 00:17:44]
But you didn’t know.

Sean Kearney:
[00:17:44 – 00:17:45]
I didn’t know.

Richard Taylor:
[00:17:45 – 00:18:11]
I think it comes from a place of people are so instinctively horrified by it because it seems so unfair and it’s so unique. America is one of two countries, famously Eritrea, and the American situation is way worse, that apply citizenship based taxation. So it’s so unusual and people are so horrified by it that it’s almost like an act of protest. If you like, you know, screw this. Like we’re not gonna comply to this, but it’s a very stupid form of protest because you’re not gonna win.

Richard Taylor:
[00:18:11 – 00:18:21]
If it ever comes to light, it’s gonna hurt a lot more for you than it is for them. So I never thought of it like that. But there’s professionals complicit in it, I guess, is what you’re saying.

Sean Kearney:
[00:18:21 – 00:18:35]
Yeah, but I think the issue is too a lack of education, a lack of knowledge. People don’t know, people don’t understand. And that’s fair enough. You know, it’s probably our job and advisors jobs to make them understand this. To me, why isn’t revenue in Ireland?

Sean Kearney:
[00:18:35 – 00:18:51]
Why isn’t revenue in the UK? Why isn’t the IR’s making people aware of their obligations? Because I know a lot of people just simply don’t know. And that’s what I come up against over here. It’s my client base, I guess is very similar to your client base in that I’m looking for irish expats that are here.

Sean Kearney:
[00:18:51 – 00:19:12]
As I would pitch, it’s clients moving to, living in or returning from the US. And all them three pieces require planning, whether you like it or not. And again, that’s a massive piece for them that an awful lot of people don’t understand. An awful lot of people come over here, they don’t have a plan, they don’t even know how long they’re going to stay they live, they earn a lot of money. Green card.

Sean Kearney:
[00:19:12 – 00:19:21]
Everyone that comes over here wants a green card. And now while a green card is great, if you’re going to stay here, it’s not necessarily that advisable. If you’re only going to stay here for a couple of years, people need.

Richard Taylor:
[00:19:21 – 00:19:29]
To hear that because you’re right. People come get the green card, having no idea about exit tax, covered expat, all this stuff. You’re absolutely bang on.

Sean Kearney:
[00:19:29 – 00:19:37]
Yeah. So it is. People need advice and I guess one of the issues is the advice isn’t available. It’s twofold. It’s not available because there’s not enough people doing what we do.

Sean Kearney:
[00:19:37 – 00:19:40]
There’s not enough quality people doing what we do.

Richard Taylor:
[00:19:40 – 00:20:08]
And Sean, there’s too many people who are in our side of the industry, right, who are investment advisors, financial advisors, financial professionals who aren’t this specialized, who are happy to take on these clients despite having none of this extra information to share. And even when it’s kind of brought to their attention, kind of shrug it off because it doesn’t really impact them. They don’t really care. So sometimes it feels like we’re shouting into the wind a little bit. And other professionals, you don’t need to worry about that.

Richard Taylor:
[00:20:08 – 00:20:16]
Worry about that. When you go back and we’re kind of like trying to bang the job, like, no, think about this now. I keep saying it’s better to prepay than it is to repair. I get really frustrated with that.

Sean Kearney:
[00:20:16 – 00:20:35]
Yeah, yeah, look, it is. And I guess it’s probably even looking at the wider picture of what it is that we do. The whole financial planning piece. Tax planning is an element that people tend to see the importance in because it’s a must do thing. But I think the bigger piece for us, and I think we’ve discussed this before, we’re along similar lines.

Sean Kearney:
[00:20:35 – 00:21:03]
The financial planning piece is probably a more important piece than the tax piece. Look, they go hand in hand, but trying to sit down with clients and establish their what and why before you actually start looking at the tax piece is probably more important. And that piece goes right back to people come to the US, get me that green card, get me that citizenship. They don’t understand the bigger picture. What that’s tying them into your eight year rule on the green card with regard to exiting on the green card.

Sean Kearney:
[00:21:03 – 00:21:25]
That’s massive because potentially people are coming over here. They’re particularly in some of the sectors, the likes of your tech, the likes of your pharma, they’re amassing great wealth and the green card means potentially exit tax. If you want to exit similar. If you want to announce your citizenship, there’s all these options available to them that they don’t look at. That could potentially cost them a lot of money down the road.

Sean Kearney:
[00:21:25 – 00:21:26]
Yeah.

Richard Taylor:
[00:21:26 – 00:21:40]
And not just them as well. Like if you become a covered expat, which we’ll talk about in a second, because I’ve got a question for you. That can be lifelong consequences for your american kids. If you end up having kids here, you can’t gift them anything without 40% tax that your kid has to pay straight away.

Sean Kearney:
[00:21:40 – 00:21:40]
Yeah. Yeah.

Richard Taylor:
[00:21:41 – 00:21:57]
So the thing between the tax advisor and the financial adviser, I always see it as we’re strategic, we see the big picture. We can see the different parts that the tax advisor who’s just been taxed with save me tax this year, or what do I need to do this year to be taxable? That’s tactical. That’s in the moment. And what can be a good tactical move can be a bad strategic move.

Richard Taylor:
[00:21:57 – 00:22:21]
And I think that’s the value we bring. There’s always this thing with green card holders and the exit tax. My cat like the horror scenario, and I’m interested to know if you think this is right. Horror scenario is someone on the green card who’s been here for more than eight years, who’s got a net worth of more than 2 million, isn’t aware of the repercussions or giving up your green card and all this stuff, and just goes back to Ireland or goes back to the UK with a green card because they think, oh, you know what? I might want to come back to the US in five years.

Richard Taylor:
[00:22:21 – 00:22:36]
Not understanding that. That’s just not how this works. So they’ve gone back, they’re a covered expat. They lose their immigration status unwillingly, unknowingly, maybe even by being out the country for so long, but they’re not giving up the green card. So they’re still subject to our point earlier about us taxes.

Richard Taylor:
[00:22:36 – 00:23:08]
But also my understanding of that is the point where they lose their permanent residency status, where it’s revoked or whatever. They’re then subject to the exit tax, even if they don’t know it. And the exit tax is a phantom tax, so there’s no relief under the treaty. So your retirement accounts, your assets, could be taxed at 30 40%, which you have to find at some point whenever this comes due. And then when you draw those assets out in the UK or Ireland, they can get taxed again by the UK or irish authorities with no relief that could absolutely decimate someone’s wealth.

Richard Taylor:
[00:23:08 – 00:23:19]
And there’s been no opportunity for prior planning because you left the US, your green card was revoked. At some point it all gets caught up and they apply the exit tax. That is a nightmare scenario for me. It is.

Sean Kearney:
[00:23:19 – 00:23:49]
And it’s quite funny because, you know, you say people come over, get the green card, go back. I’m going to probably suggest the majority of people do that. The majority of people out there that I’m meeting now are doing no planning, as in they decide to go back, they go back and they maintain these assets. Now, a lot of people, I guess, particularly in the likes of New York, which I’m experiencing at the minute, a lot of these people don’t own property, so they’ve rented while they’re over here. So I guess that’s a piece where their connection in their head, property always connects you to an area.

Sean Kearney:
[00:23:49 – 00:24:10]
If you have physical property, they’ll move back without a property. So all they have is 401K. They might have some stock if they’ve got it from company. They have a brokerage account, they may have cash sitting in the bank. They’ll move back, get their job, move on with their life, and slowly but surely, what they’ll start doing is they’ll move the brokerage account back and then move their cash back and they’d be left with a.

Sean Kearney:
[00:24:10 – 00:24:32]
They’re not fully sure about how they deal with the 401K. But again, I’m only 40, I’m not getting that until I’m 60 or 65, so I’ll worry about that when I retire. So that’s something that’s way down the road. But they’re not actually considering what the options now, again, any of the big pharma, any of the big multinationals give exiting employees tax advice. Again, I’ve seen this.

Sean Kearney:
[00:24:32 – 00:24:53]
It’s a sheet of paper, practically. There you are, whatever you think, nine times out of ten, when I was 30 years of age or 35 years of age, if I was going somewhere and I was leaving a company, I go, thanks for that piece of paper. We’ll file that with the rest of us in the bin. And I’d go build my own business. My green card goes out of date in the background, or I have my citizenship at this stage, citizenship.

Sean Kearney:
[00:24:53 – 00:25:10]
And all I’m thinking is, this is marvelous. It’s wonderful. I can go back to the States at any time, but again, it goes back to the piece. It’s a lack of education and I guess that’s what it’s what I’m finding more than anything about this job is that one of the bigger initial pieces with clients is educating them. First of all, it’s convincing them that they need this.

Sean Kearney:
[00:25:10 – 00:25:27]
To me, every Irish expat, no matter how much money they have, needs some level of financial planning when they come over here, there’s no question about it. I have done in the past execution business, which a lot of people do. Over here. There’s a million euros. I have a million euros.

Sean Kearney:
[00:25:27 – 00:25:33]
What am I going to do with it? Give me that. I’ll invest it. Let’s put that into stocks. Let’s make your portfolio as sexy as we possibly can.

Sean Kearney:
[00:25:33 – 00:26:00]
So you think we’re doing lots of work in the background, that money’s invested. Okay, we’re getting you six to 8% per year and everything looks great, but they’ve no actual knowledge around why that money is there or what that money is going to do for them in the background, never mind the taxes and stuff like that. They don’t even know it. All theyre doing is getting a statement every year. Their advisor over here that works for one of the big warehouses is sending them a Christmas card and sending them a statement in January, telling them theyre up 10% this year.

Sean Kearney:
[00:26:00 – 00:26:09]
And they think its marvelous. They think its wonderful. Theyre not looking into what this money does for them. And I think thats what we do. As financial planners were able to sit down with these people.

Sean Kearney:
[00:26:09 – 00:26:30]
From my process, the very first thing or the first couple of meetings I have, we dont talk about money. Lets park your money, lets try and understand what it is that you want. But I’ve noticed, and I’m sure UK expats are the same thing. There’s not many people come to America from Ireland and say, I’m never going back there again. They all think they’re going home.

Sean Kearney:
[00:26:30 – 00:26:47]
They all want to go home. But unfortunately or fortunately, life gets in the way. You end up meeting somebody, you get married, you have kids, and all of a sudden now you’re 50 years of age, your kids are in their teens, it’s not as easy to move back to Ireland. So what I try to do with clients when I first meet them is let’s sit down and forget about everything. You know what?

Sean Kearney:
[00:26:48 – 00:27:04]
For the minute, tax doesn’t matter, for the minute, money doesn’t matter. Let’s pretend somebody else is bankrolling you. Tell me exactly what life looks like for you. Because what I want you to be able to do is I want you to be able to sit up when you’re 85. When life slows down, whether you like it or not, and be able to turn around and say, you know what?

Sean Kearney:
[00:27:04 – 00:27:24]
I have no regrets. I did everything I want to do because it’s too late at 85 to decide you wanted to climb the Himalayas or go on a world cruise or do any of these things. It’s too late at that stage. So what we try and do is, let’s take a look at that from now. Once we understand what life looks like, whether you’re going home or whether you’re staying here, some people absolutely never want to go back to Ireland.

Sean Kearney:
[00:27:24 – 00:27:27]
They’re happy to go back to Christmas, have a few pints and come back, see their family.

Richard Taylor:
[00:27:27 – 00:27:29]
I like the way you see your family. Was second after that.

Sean Kearney:
[00:27:29 – 00:27:30]
Well, it generally is.

Richard Taylor:
[00:27:30 – 00:27:34]
You go back to Ireland for a few pints. Oh, yeah, I think I know some people here as well.

Sean Kearney:
[00:27:35 – 00:27:57]
Yeah, I better bring them home with a present at the bottom of my case. But that’s what it is. It’s very much that piece. Get them to try and understand what it is that they want to do, whether that’s go home now, go home in five years or never go home, but try and examine that piece and come up with an answer for that. Once we understand what the plan is, what we understand what they want to do, once they understand what they want to do, then we start layering in.

Sean Kearney:
[00:27:57 – 00:28:06]
Well, let’s look at your money. How much money have you now? Let’s look at the tax implications of what you want to do. Let’s look at the estate planning implications of what you want to do. And it makes it a completely different conversation with them.

Sean Kearney:
[00:28:06 – 00:28:28]
Unfortunately, the whole industry has not been built around that. The whole industry, particularly here in America and in New York, I’m about 4 miles away from Wall street here. Wall street made the investment piece the only piece that mattered, whereas I would argue that the investment piece only really, really, really matters for the people that are selling the investments down on Wall street.

Richard Taylor:
[00:28:28 – 00:28:41]
Yeah, the investment piece. This is why we’re aligned here. The investment piece is the supporting piece. The important piece is the lifestyle of the client, the life they want to lead. The investments support that.

Richard Taylor:
[00:28:41 – 00:28:58]
But 90% of what we see out there, what we come up against, the investment piece pieces front and center, and all the other stuff is neglected or just abandoned altogether. And it’s that stuff that we, as us, pulling our hair out. And I can see it’s, you know, it’s caused you a significant amount of hair loss, is that we know.

Sean Kearney:
[00:28:58 – 00:28:59]
Not anymore.

Richard Taylor:
[00:28:59 – 00:29:31]
Like, great, your investments did 5% last year, or 10%, whatever it was you got. But like, do you realize you sat on 100 grand plus worth of risk here that no one’s told you about and I’ve seen in ten minutes? Because this is our area. The reason we changed this podcast, the direction a little bit is because to your point before about the education piece and getting the message out there, every single week we meet a new client and within minutes we spot stuff that should have been picked up years ago. This week, unreported income from a cash isa.

Richard Taylor:
[00:29:31 – 00:29:45]
Informational forms missing. This person has three professional advisors. They have a tax advisor, they have a bank advisor, they have a cross board advisor, and none of them are doing a proper job. In my opinion, some of them should be doing better. Some of them, they don’t know what they don’t know.

Richard Taylor:
[00:29:45 – 00:30:05]
I just want to start putting this information out there. Shouting from the rooftops so the people who care, who have already made these missteps mistakes unwillingly can repair. But also there’s a whole cohort. America remains our city on the hill, right? People are going to keep coming here, and if people pick up these podcasts before they come, well, hopefully they can take action before they come and not even have to worry about any of this stuff.

Richard Taylor:
[00:30:05 – 00:30:13]
That from day one they comply and in good shape. That’s the kind of mission. Find more people like you and they’re out there, we’re out there and start shouting from the rooftops.

Sean Kearney:
[00:30:13 – 00:30:27]
It is, and I think that’s key. You know anyone I’ve met over here have not met someone like me. And some of them are engaged with guys in the investment banks, from the investment houses. You know, they’re investing money and they’re doing a good job of investing money. Like that’s their job.

Sean Kearney:
[00:30:27 – 00:30:51]
I would be surprised if they weren’t probably no better place in the world to invest money to have options, but again, there’s probably too many options. It’s about getting these people to understand the benefit of what we do, and we can only do so much. You know, I charge a fee for what I do. I explain to people what it is that I can do with them. A lot of them find it strange that I’m not going to talk about money for the first couple of meetings because to them it’s the way it’s always been and it’s what it is.

Sean Kearney:
[00:30:51 – 00:31:06]
But once we get into the process, they then understand that. They go, okay, now I get what I’m doing. And a lot of them see it as being able to have an independent sounding board because my job is not to tell them what they want to hear. My job is not to tell them everything’s going to be fine. Do this, do this.

Sean Kearney:
[00:31:06 – 00:31:33]
What you’re doing is great, everything looks great. My job is to tell them what they need to hear, tell them the truth, good news and bad news. So again, it’s about saying, I know your investment advisor says everything is wonderful, I know he says that you’re in the right investment, but again, maybe you are, but not for what you want to do in the future. And that’s the other piece, you touched on it earlier. The likes of you move back to Ireland or you move back to the UK, you invest in the wrong thing can potentially have a massive impact.

Sean Kearney:
[00:31:33 – 00:32:01]
Mutual funds, I don’t know, if you take one piece out of this and you’re a us citizen in Ireland, you should not be in a mutual fund because the US, the IR’s hate them. So again, it’s that piece, it’s simple stuff like that. If you take nothing out of stuff, it’s go get a bit of advice to tell you what you’re doing, right or wrong, because I can guarantee you that your irish advisor, 90% of you are going to be in mutual funds with life companies. It’s that simple. The US don’t like that piece, right?

Richard Taylor:
[00:32:01 – 00:32:27]
So obviously we spoke to hundreds of people here over my nine years and one that stands out is I had a call with someone, this is years ago, I remember, in our old office and one of the first questions I ask is who does your taxes? This guy says, I mean, yeah, I’m a chartered accountant, I do my own taxes, always have done. Okay, right. Anyway, long story short, turns out this guy who moved here in the eighties has a portfolio of Pifks from his time in the UK. This was in the eighties.

Richard Taylor:
[00:32:27 – 00:32:39]
I’m talking to this guy in 2000, I don’t know what, 20. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of gains. Once you factor in the tax and the interest on that, all gone. I mean devastating. And that’s an extreme example.

Richard Taylor:
[00:32:39 – 00:32:58]
An extreme example, but I think it’s very illustrative. The cholerae to this is I heard from this guy recently who was asking me for a tax advisor who he could go to to get some specific. I basically wanted something confirming and I inferred from that that he was still doing his own tax return. And I just, I just, I just don’t know. It blew me away.

Richard Taylor:
[00:32:58 – 00:33:06]
It truly blew me away. I did, I don’t know how? I’ve never done my own taxes here and I never will. I’ve always had a cross border tax specialist. It just blows my mind.

Richard Taylor:
[00:33:06 – 00:33:07]
It really does.

Sean Kearney:
[00:33:07 – 00:33:23]
Yep. No, and look, it’s about convincing people that it is, it’s, it’s value for money. And I guess one of the pieces is, I go back to the piece I said earlier. I don’t know anyone personally. I haven’t dealt with anyone that has been caught or been stitched up by the IR’s and have been fined and have all these fines put on them.

Sean Kearney:
[00:33:23 – 00:33:45]
But again, one piece that I have noticed of where you can potentially get caught, we’re all out here doing stuff. You know, you have kids, the majority of parents will tell you, I’m out here doing this for my kids. And again, I want to en masse. And a big thing over here in the US is intergenerational wealth, to be able to provide for them for what they need in the next life. So their life is easier than mine.

Sean Kearney:
[00:33:46 – 00:34:11]
One of the areas that you will get caught by not doing your return and not registering for tax is if you have us assets on debt. In order for us assets to be paid out from the US, you need a us tax clearance cert. If you haven’t been doing your tax, there’s no chance you’re getting a tax clearance cert. And then all of a sudden you’re caught up in this. So again, it is an issue and it’s the executor’s responsibility to ensure that you’re fully tax compliant.

Sean Kearney:
[00:34:11 – 00:34:41]
So again, if you’re in Ireland and you’re signing off the estate and distribute all the assets and have got assets from the US, and they had a tax liability in the US, you’re signing off that their tax that you’ve checked this, the IR’s come back. It’s the executors who were on the hook for the IR’s issue at that stage. So again, it’s not something, it’s one of them things, I guess, let’s call it like smoking. You can smoke away for years and there be no issue. You can give up smoking and then in 20 years something happens related back to you smoking.

Sean Kearney:
[00:34:41 – 00:35:23]
That’s the way this is. You potentially can get away with this for all your life, but there may very well come a time in the future and again go back 2030 years and look at where technology was, look at where information access was at that stage in another 10, 15, 20 years. AI is a game changer for this. It makes it so much easier for the IR’s to go in and look. And again, one of the, I guess the IR’s is on any tax administration anywhere in the world uses are, I guess these, I’ll call them phishing letters where they’ll send 100,000 letters out to people who have a us passport that they don’t see a return done for.

Sean Kearney:
[00:35:23 – 00:35:35]
That lands on your mat. I can guarantee you that could kick you into action. You do your return, the IR’s gets a lot of easy money in and they move on to the next people. But it is, there’s always going to be an issue down the road.

Richard Taylor:
[00:35:35 – 00:35:39]
That’s a fantastic analogy. I’ve never heard that before. The smoking analogy.

Sean Kearney:
[00:35:39 – 00:35:40]
It’s actually mine.

Richard Taylor:
[00:35:40 – 00:35:41]
Yeah, I’m going to use that.

Sean Kearney:
[00:35:41 – 00:35:44]
I charge you maybe a dollar each time you use it with a client.

Richard Taylor:
[00:35:44 – 00:35:46]
Okay. All right. Well if royalties, I’d like you to.

Sean Kearney:
[00:35:46 – 00:35:47]
Be honest with me.

Richard Taylor:
[00:35:47 – 00:35:53]
Okay, well, you’re going to probably set up some sort of AI thing to patrol our podcast now. And every time you hear me use this analogy down the road, all it.

Sean Kearney:
[00:35:53 – 00:36:00]
Takes is to bump into one of your clients and say, did he use this with you? I know you’ve used it. Mass market at that stage.

Richard Taylor:
[00:36:00 – 00:36:33]
This is kind of unrelated, but you know how there’s the IR’s sharing new initiatives right now to go after wealthy taxpayers? I don’t know if you saw recently they sent out thousands, thousands, tens of thousands, I think, of letters to high income taxpayers. I think that means that people with more than a million dollars a year to high income taxpayers who aren’t filing tax returns, they made a big thing about this. I was surprised because I was like, if the IR’s know people are making a million dollars a year and they’re not filing tax returns, why don’t they get a letter of standard? Why are you making a big thing that now?

Richard Taylor:
[00:36:33 – 00:36:46]
But you’re right, actually, it’s probably international people, isn’t it? It’s probably they were aware of someone in Ireland or anywhere making that kind of money who isn’t filing tax. It’s not a million dollar w two earner in New York, it’s someone. That’s probably it, isn’t it?

Sean Kearney:
[00:36:46 – 00:36:46]
Yeah.

Richard Taylor:
[00:36:46 – 00:36:47]
Yeah.

Sean Kearney:
[00:36:47 – 00:37:04]
And these are the guys like they’re going after. And again, you know, the US has had multi generational wealth for years. And again I came over here, I’m blown away by the level of wealth there is over here. Not just with Americans, with expats, you know, it’s absolutely insane. It really is you go back home and this kind of thing is starting to happen.

Sean Kearney:
[00:37:04 – 00:37:29]
You know, people are a lot wealthier than they were, like my parents and my parents parents were never poor. But the potential of what people have now, you know, the way the world has gone, there’s a lot more, call them millionaires, whatever a millionaire means nowadays, but there’s a lot more intergenerational wealth that’s there. And these are the important things to people, and it’s important that we look after these things.

Richard Taylor:
[00:37:29 – 00:37:47]
One reason I love working with expats and I complain so much about all this stuff, right? All these what I consider to be injustices and how unfair it is for this US tax system. Ultimately, it’s allowed me to carve out a pretty highly specialized niche for myself. So I need to be grateful. But one of the things I love about expats is we are adventurous people, right?

Richard Taylor:
[00:37:47 – 00:38:23]
We have taken a risk. Most expats, in my experience, are pretty adventurous, pretty up for stuff, they’re fun. And you’ve come to America and you’ve forged out a career and you’ve built wealth and you’ve been successful, you’ve taken risks, and it would just be a tragedy and a travesty, but a tragedy if you lost a load of it to the IR’s for reasons that are completely avoidable with knowledge, education and proactivity. It’s a bit of a cliche for a final say, I’ve got a mission, but it is a mission partly to get this message out there so people don’t mess up all their hard work inadvertently or avoidably.

Sean Kearney:
[00:38:23 – 00:38:27]
No. And it is. It’s simple to do. I’m not saying it’s not costly. Everything’s relative.

Sean Kearney:
[00:38:27 – 00:38:38]
It’s an investment, and that’s what it is. It’s like everything else. We lose sleep about the things we’ve done nothing about. Once we do something about them, maybe. I know there are most things in life, there is a cost to it.

Sean Kearney:
[00:38:38 – 00:39:02]
But again, once we do it and we do these things right, it becomes part of. It’s one of the big things. Compliance was always a thing in the industry. Now when I started in this industry, compliance was fairly rough and ready, and it’s become far more concentrated and far more targeted. If you use compliance as a tool to enhance your business, as opposed to a tool that interferes with your business, it makes things a lot easier and you end up not having to worry about it.

Sean Kearney:
[00:39:02 – 00:39:07]
It’s the same with tax compliance. You do the right thing and it makes life less stressful.

Richard Taylor:
[00:39:08 – 00:39:40]
You have just hit the nail on the head, that idea of, like, losing sleep before action and then after action, being contented. So I’ve seen that in two very clear examples. Our clients who have gone through the streamlined process that you refer to, agonize about it beforehand, and then once it’s done, once it’s in, it’s like a weight has been lifted. Likewise, FX people might have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands in euros or pounds, and they will agonize daily over the FX rate and will get emails and all sorts, and then once they’ve converted it, it’s gone. They don’t think about it.

Richard Taylor:
[00:39:40 – 00:39:53]
They’re not checking their FX rate every day, even if x rate improves either. The quality of someone’s life post transfer is so much higher because it’s just gone from their life. So I think you’re really on something there. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Sean Kearney:
[00:39:53 – 00:40:14]
It’s another great point, that FX piece clients at the minute that are potentially looking at moving money back and forward to Ireland, you know, to question, do I do it? One of the issues at the minute over here is you can get four or 5% on deposit over here. You’re going to be lucky to get 4.5% on deposit in Ireland. And they’re saying, well, I’m going to leave my money over there because it’s. I’m getting four or 5%.

Sean Kearney:
[00:40:14 – 00:40:36]
And I know that’s great, but if your future is in Ireland, us dollar isn’t going to be much used to you to spend in Ireland, so you’re going to have to convert it to euros daily, because it is, as you say, it’s a daily worry for them. They’re constantly going, is the dollar here? Is the dollar there, is the dollar there. Pull the trigger on it at a number that seems like value. And I’d always go back to, well, here’s the average number for the last 20 years.

Sean Kearney:
[00:40:36 – 00:40:38]
We’re not far off. It’s so people tie themselves up into.

Richard Taylor:
[00:40:38 – 00:40:57]
Knots, like trying to piece together all the pieces of this unpeaceable together jigsaw. FX is even more wild than stocks. There’s just so many moving parts and they’re trying to like, well, this is going to happen, but so is a million other things, and you just let it go. And that’s my financial advice. They expect me to come in with charts and graphs and you can do all that, but it’s completely pointless.

Richard Taylor:
[00:40:57 – 00:41:05]
It’s more about, I want to improve your life, and if I improve your life, you’re living in Ireland, you’re living in euros. This is bothering you, getting into euros mostly.

Sean Kearney:
[00:41:05 – 00:41:19]
And again, it’s when are you going to need it? When are you going to need it? If you may need that money in two years time, you have no idea. Anyone that tells you where the FX rate is going to be in six months time, never mind two years time, is either guessing or lying.

Richard Taylor:
[00:41:19 – 00:41:33]
The thing about this industry, FX or stocks or investments, it’s always so easy to spin a good story, particularly with social media. You could throw a data map right now and give me some economic data. And it’s been a good story on why it’s a good investment opportunity. It means nothing.

Sean Kearney:
[00:41:33 – 00:41:50]
The perception that people have because of social media now and people on social media telling people that you can do this yourself, very few people can do it themselves. I couldn’t do it all myself. As we’ve said, you know, it’s incredibly important that you use experts in their field. I am a financial planner. I am not a tax advisor.

Sean Kearney:
[00:41:50 – 00:41:59]
I am not an estate planner. I am not an investment advisor. I understand how all these things work. I understand how they fit into the plan. But thats as far as it goes.

Sean Kearney:
[00:41:59 – 00:42:05]
You bring in the experts in order to get to where you want to go with the plan. And I think its important that people understand that.

Richard Taylor:
[00:42:05 – 00:42:23]
I agree. Just as we wrap up here, its something you said right at the beginning that I kind of bypassed because we just got straight into tax issues. I was waiting to pounce. But as you were talking about the financial crisis, you mentioned 2011. Whenever I talk about financial crisis, whenever I hear you talk about in America, it’s always 2008, 2009.

Richard Taylor:
[00:42:23 – 00:42:30]
But of course in Ireland, kind of, that was just the beginning. Right. It really got worse. 2011. I never think of it like that.

Richard Taylor:
[00:42:30 – 00:42:36]
I just think, oh, 2011, we’re on the up again. We’re, you know, we’re on the way out. But you guys were just, it got dark, didn’t it, in Ireland?

Sean Kearney:
[00:42:37 – 00:42:42]
Yeah, yeah. No, it did. Absolutely. We lost our sovereignty. The IMF came in and took us over.

Sean Kearney:
[00:42:42 – 00:42:54]
Look, it’s like everything else. Everything sounds bad. And again, this is another tip to people, if they are listening. The media absolutely adores bad news. So again, it’s what they’re going to print.

Sean Kearney:
[00:42:54 – 00:43:01]
They’ll never print the good news. They’ll print the bad news because bad news sells paper. And again, that’s what it was. I’m not saying it wasn’t bad. I’m not saying things weren’t tough.

Sean Kearney:
[00:43:01 – 00:43:25]
But again, things got tough for a while. And that’s the piece. You know, it was all very exciting in 2008, 2009, as the world fell apart, so long as you had a roof over your head and you were able to maintain your job, but, you know, it got rough. A lot of people came over to the US then because, particularly construction fell apart in Ireland. You know, an awful lot of industries that people were making a lot of money from in Ireland fell apart.

Sean Kearney:
[00:43:25 – 00:43:41]
So an awful lot of people came over to the US, which means they’ve now been here kind of ten to 15 years. It was tough, but again, people got through it, we got over it, and the economy is cyclical. We’re going to have another bad day. We’re going to have more bad days, more bad years. We move around the world.

Sean Kearney:
[00:43:41 – 00:43:43]
The world has become a lot smaller of a place.

Richard Taylor:
[00:43:43 – 00:43:54]
Ireland’s thriving now, though, right? Like, you kind of won the game of, like, the best european country for tech firms and stuff to move to the tax rate, arbitrage. You’ve kind of won all that, haven’t you?

Sean Kearney:
[00:43:54 – 00:43:58]
Yeah. There’s attractions for it. I love Ireland. Let’s be very clear. I came here last year.

Sean Kearney:
[00:43:58 – 00:44:15]
I absolutely adore New York. I had a conversation with somebody, you know, down in the canteen, in the office here one day about where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world? I live in New York. I’m absolutely living my dream at the minute, with the caveat that I’d love to be 20 years younger. It’s a brilliant city for doing what I’m looking to do.

Sean Kearney:
[00:44:15 – 00:44:21]
You’re looking to build a business. Everything over in New York is about money. Be very clear. It’s about money. It’s about business.

Sean Kearney:
[00:44:21 – 00:44:36]
It’s about building business. Burnout, I would say, is massive here. I would hate to think I’d grow old here. And the only old people that I see here with smiles on their faces are the ones living in the buildings overlooking Central park, who clearly have millions. But again, I love it here.

Sean Kearney:
[00:44:36 – 00:44:53]
But I love Ireland. I love, every time I go home, every time I go home for a week or ten days, because I still have clients in Ireland that I service now, again, Zoom allows you to do a lot. I would much prefer eyeball people. I much prefer sit down with people in person. So I like to go home, like to get stuff done with clients at home.

Sean Kearney:
[00:44:53 – 00:45:03]
Like to see family at home. I have a son at home who looks after himself. He’s not with a babysitter or anything. He’s old enough to look after himself at this stage. But to me, I’m going back there all day, every day.

Sean Kearney:
[00:45:03 – 00:45:17]
But as days go by, I’m kind of going, you know, I’d love this whole piece that is available to people so long as they do it right, where you can live between both, you know, you spend some time in the US. And that’s how I started here, started traveling over and back until I realized it was too old to travel over and back.

Richard Taylor:
[00:45:17 – 00:45:19]
Takes its toll out, doesn’t it?

Sean Kearney:
[00:45:19 – 00:45:32]
It does. But I understand people, like everyone I meet here wants to go home or thinks they want to go home or thinks they are going home. But again, it goes back to the piece we discussed. Planning is the key to this. You can do your tax piece, right, you can do your investment piece, right.

Sean Kearney:
[00:45:32 – 00:45:52]
You can do your estate planning piece right, in isolation. But unless you can do the financial planning piece and sit down and understand, well, you know what? I’m going to go home in five years or I’m going to go home in three years. I’m going to go home in two years. And as I explained to clients, no matter what we plan today, the only thing I can guarantee about the plan is that the plan isn’t going to work according to the plan because things are going to change.

Sean Kearney:
[00:45:52 – 00:45:58]
Life is going to get in the way. But as long as we maintain it and we keep looking at the plan on an annual basis, we’ll get there.

Richard Taylor:
[00:45:59 – 00:46:10]
Agreed. Hard, hard. Agreed. Imagine if your pilot didn’t have a flight plan or your captain of your cruise liner didn’t have a plan. Like you just thought, oh, we’re going to head off in that direction and hopefully we’ll get there.

Richard Taylor:
[00:46:10 – 00:46:14]
Like, you just wouldn’t do that. And too many people think you can do that with your own affairs.

Sean Kearney:
[00:46:14 – 00:46:30]
It is. It’s one of the things I have on my website. It’s one of my favorite books as a kid because I was a really tough kid, was Alison Wonderland. And one of the pieces in it is where Alice comes to the crossroad and said, which road do I take? And the answer is, well, where are you going?

Sean Kearney:
[00:46:30 – 00:46:46]
And she said, I don’t know. The answer she gets is, but then it doesn’t much matter which road you take. So unless you have a destination as to where your plan wants to bring you, it doesn’t matter. And that’s what an awful lot of people are missing. They’re missing what this plan wants to achieve.

Sean Kearney:
[00:46:46 – 00:46:52]
And again, for me, saying, what are your goals? Goals? Oh, I want to be rich. I want to retire at 60. I want my kids to do this.

Sean Kearney:
[00:46:52 – 00:47:09]
I want, they’re all great, but again, they have to form part of the bigger picture. What do you want life to look like for you? And I think that’s what we do and it’s what we do very well. And I think some clients don’t understand that. And I guess I’m in the position over here that there’s not many of me over here.

Sean Kearney:
[00:47:09 – 00:47:24]
There’s not many cross border financial planners. So, you know, if somebody doesn’t get the value that I can offer, then I’m happy enough to move them on and let them deal with it. Nine times out of ten you’ll find they’ll end up coming back to you two or three years later anyway.

Richard Taylor:
[00:47:24 – 00:47:40]
Yeah, we’ve been in business long enough now to see that happening because just not getting what they want or what they need from elsewhere. I agree very hard with all of that, Sean. On that note, tell us where, if there’s any irish expats listening to this or anyone listening who knows Irish expats who think they shouldn’t get to know. Sean, where can people find you?

Sean Kearney:
[00:47:40 – 00:48:06]
The best place is to go to my website, www.amvoywealth.com. It’s difficult to find on Google, so you need to put the whole address straight into the address bar. The reason it’s hard to find is that I didn’t want it on general release out there because I don’t want the amount of people who I potentially feel may approach me by googling cross border financial planning. Because if you Google cross border financial planning, Ireland and the US, there’s not much on it.

Richard Taylor:
[00:48:06 – 00:48:35]
Sean, we face this conundrum. Everyone was reaching out to us with like stuff that we don’t solve, you know, a lot of, say, pension questions. And it actually led to us writing a series of blogs, twelve blogs that I tried to answer all these questions partly for SEO purposes, also partly so that when we had these incoming inquiries, we had somewhere to point them to say, right, there’s no point getting a call for this. We simply, we don’t have enough hours in the day. But there’s a blog here I can send you to and here’s a guide that might be an idea for you that’ll fix both problems at the same time.

Sean Kearney:
[00:48:35 – 00:48:59]
Yeah, it’s something I’m working on, I guess. Look, I’ve been here almost twelve months. I understand the business now, I understand the marketplace, and I understand what it is that I’m trying to do a lot better than I did nine months ago. So again, for me, there’s a little bit of, I guess, restructuring being done within the business that I’m looking at doing currently. You know, in an ideal world, I would absolutely love to have tax on an estate planning section in the business.

Richard Taylor:
[00:48:59 – 00:49:01]
We tried that. It’s harder than it sounds.

Sean Kearney:
[00:49:01 – 00:49:03]
Yeah. Dunno how feasible that is in the short term.

Richard Taylor:
[00:49:03 – 00:49:05]
It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

Sean Kearney:
[00:49:05 – 00:49:14]
It goes back to that issue. It’s really difficult to find people who understand the irish US tax connection, the estate planning connection. It is difficult.

Richard Taylor:
[00:49:14 – 00:49:27]
I would also urge people to look you up on LinkedIn. Sean Carney. K e a r n e y. He looks very intimidating and suited and booted in his picture. And he’s much more chill in real life.

Sean Kearney:
[00:49:27 – 00:49:29]
I think that’s the last time I wore a suit.

Richard Taylor:
[00:49:31 – 00:49:35]
Yeah, you look very professional, but in real life you’re much more chill.

Sean Kearney:
[00:49:35 – 00:49:46]
Yeah, yeah. And I. Look, that’s what it’s about. I think it’s about connecting with clients as well. Today’s have wanting somebody stern to blow you away with facts, figures that you don’t understand is over.

Sean Kearney:
[00:49:46 – 00:49:53]
For me, it’s very much a collaborative effort. It’s about getting the client to understand what it is that we’re trying to achieve and working together to that common goal.

Richard Taylor:
[00:49:53 – 00:50:10]
Agreed. All right, well, look, Sean, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing this. I hope people find it useful and insightful. I hope people can take some of the lessons or the observations that we see out there week in, week out, day in, day out, and use it to avoid. We call it options in landmines.

Richard Taylor:
[00:50:10 – 00:50:15]
And I guess what I’m urging people to avoid landmines with this. So I hope people find it useful.

Sean Kearney:
[00:50:15 – 00:50:16]
Excellent.

Richard Taylor:
[00:50:16 – 00:50:40]
Cheers, mate. Alright folks, that’s another episode of we’re the Brits in America under our belts. Thank you for listening, I appreciate it and I appreciate you. If you’re enjoying the show and would like to support the mission, which is to help brits thrive in America, I’d ask you to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen and also consider leaving a rating and review. This stuff really does matter.

Richard Taylor:
[00:50:40 – 00:51:14]
Please help us get this information to the people who need it. That is your fellow brits living in America. Just a quick reminder that this show is brought to you by plan first, wealth. We are a US based US UK cross border financial planning and wealth management firm and we help successful british expatriates living across the US to make the most of their opportunity and ultimately to retire Appiah. So if you’re a british expat living in America and you’d like to know more about what we do for people like you, you can find us at our website, www.planfirstwealth.com, or you can look me up on LinkedIn.

Richard Taylor:
[00:51:14 – 00:51:23]
Do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. As always, thank you to Sam Nash and the podcast guys for their help producing this episode and the entire show. See you next time.

Retire Happier.

Plan First Wealth Is A US/UK Wealth Management Firm Serving Successful British Expats in America With at Least $1M net worth Make the Most of their Opportunity.

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