CPA? EA? CFP? Help!
February 23, 2017 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I think my life is finally in a situation where I need to find someone to help with tax planning, but maybe also a financial advisor, or maybe someone else entirely. Please help!

Due to some additional income sources expected this year that come with tax implications which are confusing to me (freelancing and graduate fellowships), I'm starting to think that I need to talk to a professional to make sure I'm handling everything correctly. Additionally, at the same time I'd like someone to help with some other financial questions I have surrounding things like my 401(k), my son's 529, what we should do with cash assets, etc.

I was initially searching for CPAs in my region since that's what I associated with taxes, but I'm also finding people who are Enrolled Agents (EAs) which also seems like they could help. Then I realized some of my questions may be better suited for a financial planner. The financial planning industry makes me nervous but I've at least figured out that I would want to find a fee-only planner so I don't get sold on some product that I don't really need but makes the planner a bunch of money. I have thus far found precisely one person in my area who is both a CFP and EA and is fee-only. I really thought there would be more people like this, and I don't want to hire someone just because they're the only person I can find with those credentials.

So basically, I'm now really confused on who I should look for, where I can find/research said person and what kinds of questions I should ask prior to hiring someone. Also, I'm really hoping I can find someone who can do everything I'm looking for simplicity's sake. Do people like that exist?
posted by noneuclidean to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I'm assuming you are in the United States. I'm not sure why you would need an enrolled agent unless you are having tax problems. I prefer a CPA for your kind of situation. Unless you have another business entity, like an LLC, stick with a CPA and investment in index funds.
posted by Sweet Dee Kat at 6:45 PM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

We had an EA do our taxes for years and he was awesome. We now have a CPA (because we moved away from where the EA was) and he does a great job. Our taxes aren't crazy complicated, but complex enough that I don't want to do it myself (investments, multiple jobs, some business income, etc.). For those purposes I'm not sure there's an important difference between EAs and CPAs as a category. I think it's more important to find someone good, and who you trust, than to focus on the specific credential. Get recommendations from several people.

I personally like keeping my financial planning separate from tax preparation. My CPA does give me a little bit of business advice, but he's not our family financial planner. I feel like those skillsets are different enough that I want someone who specializes in each. I'm sure there are people who do both well, but that's not the route I choose to go down.
posted by primethyme at 7:26 PM on February 23, 2017

You definitely want a CPA for taxes and tax planning. CPAs spend most of their time dealing with tax or advising on how to do business accounting in a way that will - make things flow right when you do tax.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:03 PM on February 23, 2017

« Older Attaching photos from my mac makes gmail seize up   |   How to use a month's absence from a PhD to recover... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.