What’s the Difference Between a CPA and a Tax Planner?

CPAs do the important number crunching for tax preparation and filing, but tax planners look at the big picture and come up with tax-saving strategies.

A businesswoman and a businessman look at paperwork at a table in a conference room.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I was doing a workshop on tax planning in our community in Columbus, Ohio, when a self-assured CPA walked into the room. His confidence was overwhelming as he declared that not only did he already know everything I planned to discuss that evening, but he should be the one delivering the presentation.

I have a bit of a sense of humor, so I had to have some fun with him. During the workshop, I posed challenging questions about tax planning strategies we use with our clients, strategies that often remain unknown or misunderstood by many. I quizzed him on the ins and outs of Roth conversions, the tax implications of claiming Social Security at 62 vs 70 and the concept of a backdoor Roth IRA. As I expected, he did not have the answers.

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Joe F. Schmitz Jr., CFP®, ChFC®
Founder and CEO, Peak Retirement Planning

As Founder and CEO of Peak Retirement Planning, Inc., Joe Schmitz Jr. has built a comprehensive retirement planning company focused on helping clients grow and preserve their wealth. Under Joe’s leadership, a team of experienced financial advisers use tax-efficient strategies, investment management, income planning and proactive health care planning to help clients feel confident in their financial future — and the legacy they leave behind. Joe has also written a book, titled I HATE TAXES. You can find Joe on YouTube by clicking here, where he creates educational videos for those in or near retirement. If you would like to talk to Joe’s team, you can schedule a meeting by clicking here.