We talked to Gregory Dewald of Bright!Tax about filing US taxes from abroad.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gregory Dewald: As an American living abroad, this year has been something of a rollercoaster. Here in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I currently reside, we’ve been locked down since March. Thankfully, we are safe and well, and as CEO of Bright!Tax, a 100% remote working global US tax services firm, we are blessed in that our livelihood has been largely unaffected.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bright!Tax.
Gregory Dewald: I’m a lifelong entrepreneur, and have started and led other successful enterprises.. In 2010 I had the opportunity to move abroad. One thing I quickly discovered was that all Americans, including the 9 million of us who live overseas, have to file US taxes on their worldwide income – even if they have to file foreign taxes too. The process of filing US taxes from abroad is much more complex, due to currency conversions and having to file additional forms to prevent double taxation. When I couldn’t find the support I needed online, I decided to start Bright!Tax, to provide that support. The business has grown exponentially, and we’re now proud to have served over 10,000 American expats living in almost every country in the world.
How does Bright!Tax innovate?
Gregory Dewald: From the start, we realized that filing from abroad is complex and stressful, so we emphasized creating a first-rate experience that involved as much personal (and personable) support as our expat clients require. Furthermore, we have developed new ways to ensure that our clients remain connected to their Bright!Tax CPAs, such as creating a secure and intuitive online portal for clients to provide their information (instead of a long-form), and a mobile app that allows clients to scan and send us documents using their phone camera.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gregory Dewald: From the start, and knowing that our clients are spread around the world, rendering the need for an office obsolete, we have been a 100% remote working firm. As such, we haven’t had to adapt this year the way most other businesses have. If anything, we have found ourselves at the forefront of a new trend, and have been advising our clients as well as other firms on strategies for and the benefits of working remotely. Working remotely not only reduces firms’ overheads, it increases employees’ productivity too, as they have more time and energy without having to commute. It requires some self-discipline on the part of remote working employees of course, but this is largely a question of habit. Companies should set individual targets and ensure that communications channels are established, so that remote teams feel connected and supported, too.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Bright!Tax in the future?
Gregory Dewald: Working remotely does present a new set of challenges, such as remaining undistracted at home, and also loneliness, depending on each individual’s circumstances. Furthermore, without a commute, life can become more sedentary, which can sap energy and impact productivity and health. As such, it’s important to get some fresh air and to exercise every day. This hasn’t necessarily been easy or possible all the time for many people this year though – here in Argentina we’re still in what is apparently the world’s longest lockdown! So, personally, I do YouTube yoga and other exercise sessions to stay healthy and ward off potential stress. I also spend some time every day catching up with friends and family on Facetime or Skype.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gregory Dewald: There are several other firms in our space. However we believe that we have the outstanding offering in our space. This is because we have successfully married a secure, intuitive online platform that allows our clients to easily provide their details and communicate with us. We make sure that our clients have constant access to their expat expert Bright!Tax CPA. By combining a high level of personal support with our bespoke secure technology, we have revolutionized the complex process of filing US taxes from around the world to render it a breeze. Indeed, Bright!Tax has now been recognized, winning 5 global EMMA awards, as the number one US expat tax provider in the word!
Your final thoughts?
Gregory Dewald: Setting up and running your own business isn’t for the faint-hearted. You can never fully switch off, as the buck stops with you. What I have discovered though is that it also allows the most freedom, opportunity and adventure. If one is persistent, and with some good fortune, the rewards one may receive are countless and beyond measure.