What is an accountant?
Accountants are financial professionals who have received an accounting degree from a four-year university or college. By trade, accountants prepare, maintain and examine the financial statements of an individual, business or institution. An accountant prepares reports for tax purposes and can also perform audits of public companies. Common tasks include creating budgets, analyzing profits and losses of a company, processing payroll, preparing financial statements for company leadership, and creating and maintaining financial database systems for a company.
Accountants do not automatically have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation unless they have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and received the proper license. Regardless of whether they are CPA certified or not, accountants can assist businesses and individuals with bookkeeping and financial reporting, while CPAs are more knowledgeable in tax codes as a result of the CPA licensing examination and continuing education requirements. CPAs are also eligible to represent clients before the IRS if audit support is required, while a non-CPA accountant is not. Academic background, years in the field and professional reputation all can affect an accountant’s rates.
Check out the average hourly rate for accounting services in your area.
How much does it cost to hire an accountant?
Accountants’ rates vary based on their education, licenses, experience, and the work for which they are being hired. An accountant may charge an hourly rate when a company or individual needs their services on a short-term basis, such as when performing an audit or requesting assistance setting up a financial database or process. Hourly rates can range as widely as $40 per hour to $300 or more per hour, depending on your geographic location and the accountant. Check out the average hourly rate for accounting services in your region.
Accountants may offer a package rate for weekly, monthly or annual services to reward ongoing customers. Many accountants offer online services where small businesses can access online accounting software and payroll assistance, and the accountant — for a monthly or other recurring fee — provides financial analysis and reporting of their numbers. For basic monthly accounting services, an accountant might charge anywhere from $75 to $500 or more, depending on what was included in a given package, the size of the client’s business, and the complexity of work requested. Nationally, full-time staff accountants earn between $40,000 and $80,000, depending on experience and other factors.
How much do accountants charge for tax help?
On average, individual tax preparation services cost $242, and prices typically range from $137- $454. However, many factors can impact how much an accountant will charge you for tax assistance. For an accurate price estimate, request quotes from several certified public accountants (CPAs) near you.
How much do CPAs charge?
Who licenses CPAs?
The Board of Accountancy for your state or district licenses certified public accountants (CPAs). When searching for a CPA to help you with your finances or taxes, make sure they are properly licensed in your state. Here are a few tools you can use to verify an accountant’s license:
- Your state’s Board of Accountancy website (example: California)
- American Institute of CPAs
You can also ask an accountant to provide proof of their license and credentials.
What do CPAs do?
According to the American Institute of CPAs, certified public accountant (CPAs) financially advise individuals, big companies and small businesses to help them reach their financial goals. For example, they can consult you on taxes and other accounting needs.
What do forensic accountants do?
Forensic accountants investigate financial crimes involving fraud, embezzlement and other issues. They often work closely with law enforcement and lawyers, and they can help determine the legality of financial activities, according to the BLS.