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Wise Money Knows the Difference between a Tax Preparer, Tax Advisor and a CPA/PFS

Wise Money Knows the Difference between a Tax Preparer, Tax Advisor and a CPA/PFS

Do You Know The Difference? – Why It Matters

I believe that the major differences between those who refer to themselves as Tax Preparers, Tax Advisors and those actually accredited as Certified Public Accountant Personal Financial Specialists (CPA/PFS) are best appreciated when you understand that your long-term monetary financial health depends on it.

Sure we can eat at McDonald’s everyday, at every meal, and get by for awhile. The cumulative effects on one’s health though probably will mean that our quality of lifestyle will approach that of a slugs.

The health benefits of switching from daily junk food to organic cuisine might require some adjustments, but hey, we’re going to feel and look a whole lot better – wouldn’t you agree?

Now back to …

The Difference between a Tax Preparer, Tax Advisor and a CPA/PFS

Be financially healthy with us

The short answer – Both Tax Preparers and Tax Advisors are “tax preparers” in the sense that they both can prepare tax returns, but a Tax Advisor provides many more services for their clients.

The long answer – If the only advice you are getting about reducing your taxes, or increasing your refund, is to change your withholdings and to contribute more to your retirement account(s), than you are most likely dealing with a tax preparer. If on the other hand, the person who prepares your taxes takes the time to meet with you, goes over your taxes, and educates you on ways to reduce your taxes now and in the future, then you are most likely dealing with a Tax Advisor.

The complete answer – If trust and experience, wrapped in comprehensive financial planning acumen is a thing you value, then an accredited CPA/PFS is what your looking for. Saving a few bucks is nice – value meals are ok now and then however, you realize that your family’s financial security depends on the right answers to complex situations that can save you thousands or millions of dollars down the road. You see, the CPA/PFS offers extensive tax expertise AND comprehensive financial planning.


A Tax Preparer is best for people who want to have their taxes done as quickly as possible. A Tax Advisor is best for people who want to have their taxes prepared as efficiently as possible – while paying the least amount in taxes. The CPA/PFS is the go-to person for long term financial health. This is the organic chef of the financial world – creative, perfectionist, detail oriented, treating each client as a unique experience.


Here’s my breakdown on differences between Tax Preparers, Tax Advisors and CPA/PFS:

Tax Preparer – The Value Meal

  • Prepares Tax Returns, usually in one quick appointment
  • Usually only available between Jan – April
  • Usually very limited advice on how to reduce income tax liability

Tax Advisor – A Chef of the Financial World

  • Prepares Tax Returns, usually meets twice with clients to insure lowest tax liability.
  • Available all year
  • Provides personalized strategies to help reduce income taxes for years to come
  • Keeps in contact with his/her clients throughout the year
  • Provides personalized strategies to help maximize paycheck
  • Provides tax advice on issues like home ownership, retirement accounts, etc…
  • Provides financial advice
  • Considers tax implications now and in the future
  • Understands the whole “death and taxes” analogy more than any one person should
  • Is part of an Organization that promotes ethics

CPA/PFS – The Healthiest Organic Culinary Artist

  • Tax Advisor (see above)
  • Estate tax planning
  • Retirement tax planning
  • Risk management
  • Investment planning
  • Clients are individuals, families and business owners
  • Documented experience and credentials

Conclusion – Be Financially Healthy with Us

The difference between a McDonald’s value meal and a flavor rich organic dish never leaves one wondering which is which. One is cheaper, one will enrich your health.

The same is true with a tax preparer, tax advisor and CPA/PFS.

So, I encourage everyone to educate themselves and find the fiscally healthiest advisor – someone that you can trust without question. The right answers to complex financial situations is what wise money relies on. A healthy financial cuisine is something that you and your loved ones deserve.

Discover how Palma Financial Services, Inc. has been keeping our Silicon Valley clients financially healthy for nearly two decades. Below you can learn more about founder and CEO Miguel Palma.

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