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New to the US, don't know how to search for assistance with personal finance / taxes

AkimboEGAkimboEG Registered User regular
Some background: My wife and I are in the process of moving to the US, for her career prospects as an animator. She is an American citizen through her parents, but has spent her entire life (up to this point) in Israel. My current status is as a tourist, until my green card application is processed.

Taxes (and personal finance in general) in Israel are straightforward affairs. You usually don't need to do anything manually, unless you're running a business. In the States, not so much. So we're looking for someone to help us out with taxes and personal finance. Our current issue is transferring money from our Israeli bank account to the US one, but there'll be more in the future.

Thing is, I don't even know what I should be looking for. Should I be looking for a bookkeeper? An Accountant? A CPA? Hell, I don't even know what those titles actually mean - they're just words I've picked up. And how would I go about searching for whoever it is I need to be searching for?

I'm really lost here, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Give me a kiss to build a dream on; And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss; Sweetheart, I ask no more than this; A kiss to build a dream on

Posts

  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    Sometimes CPAs will do taxes. You probably want to search personal taxes on Google Maps or something. You want to pay between $150 and $200 for an individual return and try to fold your other questions into that meeting, I think. You'll need to call 8-10 places to find someone who works with individuals for cheap and doesn't charge double that. Stay away from HR Block and Liberty and similar chain places, and from turbotax. All of them will help you and probably get it right, but they make their money pretending things are harder than they are and overcharging.

    Speaking of which, I've used the printed government forms with no help before and not had too much trouble. There's a recent ish Reply All episode that tells you how to get to the free internet tax form. Don't try to do the free internet form without listening to the reply all, the system is designed to quietly switch you to a paid system.

    The government forms, free internet thing, and various $40 tools make sense if you have a simple common situation. I mention them for completeness - your instinct of finding a local pro may well be warranted in your case.

    sig.gif
    Feral
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Let’s start with your first issue money.

    Does you bank have a US branch? If not you’ll have to create a bank account in the US. Then you should be able to wire transfer money from your current bank to your new bank account.

    Be aware there are disclosure requirements and rules for transferring any amount over $9999.00 there are also laws in place to prevent getting around those requirements (also known as anti structuring laws).

    Do you have a job in the US?

    Feral
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited August 24
    There are basically three different levels of professional that are relevant here.

    Tax preparer: this is somebody who can help you calculate your taxes and submit them to the government. Most people pay taxes to the IRS. In addition, you may end up owing taxes to other government agencies in addition to your national tax bill. For example, the state of California collects income tax.

    Tax preparers have to be certified by the IRS.

    Accountant: Most accountants prepare taxes. Additionally, an accountant can perform many other services. They can give you advice on budgeting and on minimizing future tax bills, they can help you manage debt, and they can do bookkeeping (which is just keeping a tally of your income and expenditures).

    An accountant has to have a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) to offer services to the public, but sometimes a CPA will have uncertified non-CPA accountants helping him.

    FInancial advisor or financial planner: This is somebody who does not do bookkeeping or tax preparation, but can give general financial advice. They can tell you whether you're saving enough to meet your financial goals, and help you choose smart investments. They usually are looking very long-term; they want to make sure you're on track all the way through retirement.

    A word of warning about financial advisors and financial planners. Those terms are not regulated in the United States. There are many good financial advisors, but choosing an honest one requires some diligence on your part. The magic words to ask are "do you have a fiduciary responsibility?" A financial advisor with a fiduciary responsibility is required to act in your best interest. (There are other good questions to ask, but I don't want to make this post any more spammy than it already is.)


    Okay, so which one do you need?

    You might not need any of them, though in your shoes I'd at least want to get a tax preparer or an accountant at first.

    Most Americans are able to do their taxes themselves, or with the assistance of some free or cheap software. You usually only need a tax preparer if you have an unusual situation: you own multiple pieces of real estate, you get your income through your own small business, that sort of thing. But moving internationally is complicated and stressful, and you're learning a new tax system, so it's probably a good idea to hire one.


    One other thing. The financial literacy thread in D&D is pretty good. Though treat it for what it is: a bunch of gamers using pseudonyms to talk about money. We give decent advice, but you'd still want to enlist the services of a professional before making any big decisions.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    Jebus314HappylilElf
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    A word of warning about financial advisors and financial planners. Those terms are not regulated in the United States. There are many good financial advisors, but choosing an honest one requires some diligence on your part. The magic words to ask are "do you have a fiduciary responsibility?" A financial advisor with a fiduciary responsibility is required to act in your best interest. (There are other good questions to ask, but I don't want to make this post any more spammy than it already is.)

    And just to be clear here OP, when Feral says financial advisers aren't regulated that means they can give you bad advice for their own enrichment. Be careful and welcome to the US.

    SmrtnikJragghenSkeithFeralFuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudHappylilElf
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