Professional accounting services are available for individuals, sole proprietorship organizations, LLCs or LLPs, C Corps, and S Corps. Businesses seeking services can have no employees (beyond the sole proprietor) or as many as 50 or more employees. Accountants work with people making a range of incomes—whether personal or business—from under $100,000 to over $5 million in almost any industry, including healthcare, sales and marketing, technology, education, manufacturing, financial services, retail or consumer goods, real estate, construction, and nonprofit. Some clients may already be using accounting software such as QuickBooks, NolaPro, Xero or Sage, but most accountants do not require this. Accountants frequently help with balancing books, preparing tax returns, managing accounts receivable and payable, and preparing financial statements. Clients can see an accountant just one time or hire someone as a full-time staff accountant. Several factors affect the cost of accounting services.
Background and experience
Accountants are professionals who have received an accounting degree, and some have tested to become certified professional accountants (CPAs). Regardless of certification, all educated accountants are qualified to assist businesses and individuals with bookkeeping. CPAs may have higher rates because of their advanced certification. Academic background, years in the field and professional reputation all can affect an accountant’s rates. Some professionals also have certification from the IRS as an Enrolled Agent, which means they are expert on federal tax law. This article refers generally to all professionals as accountants, so always inquire about certifications to ensure your needs will be met.
Many accountants charge by the hour for consultation services, short-term assistance sorting out bookkeeping issues, or one-time help to get new accounting software up and running. Hourly rates can vary based on the accountant’s experience, reputation and geographic location in the country. For example, Summit Business Team in Lakewood, Washington, charges $50 per hour for bookkeeping on backlogged accounts.
Many accountants provide ongoing services that include weekly, monthly or quarterly financial reconciliations and reporting. Some accountants can approximate the cost for their services and provide a set rate, while other accountants offer a rate once they have consulted with clients to determine the scope of their needs. Summit Business Team offers the following monthly business packages:
$75: Monthly rate includes an online QuickBooks subscription, reconciliation of two accounts with 100 transactions or less, monthly 30-minute consultation with a CPA and monthly reports.
$125: Monthly rate includes an online QuickBooks subscription, reconciliation of three accounts with 200 transactions or less, monthly 60-minute consultation with a CPA and monthly reports.
$175: Monthly rate includes an online QuickBooks subscription, reconciliation of five accounts with 400 transactions or less, two 60-minute consultations with a CPA and monthly reports.
Many accountants also offer tax services to their business clients. Prices for completing and filing taxes vary based on the complexity of the return. Tax N Book in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers the following tiered pricing:
Sales tax return: $25 and up
Individuals filing a 1040 S or F: $75 and up
- +$20 for each additional amends, schedule and return
Partnerships filing a 1065: $125 and up
- Cost of extensions vary
Accountants often provide free consultations to assess clients’ needs, explain how they can help and estimate the cost of services. The consultation also allows clients to meet the accountant and determine if it is the appropriate business fit. Summit Business Team offers a free one-hour business consulting and analysis session.