Typically, accountants nationwide cost between $30 and $300 per hour. Accounting costs are determined by the size of your business and your accounting needs. Some 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.
|National average cost||$50 per hour|
|Typical range||$30-$300 per hour|
To get a more accurate picture of professional accounting costs, set up a free consultation with an accounting professional. Before doing that, however, let’s break down the various pricing structures and services available for professional financial accounting services.
What’s in this cost guide?
Accounting service costs
Accounting costs are affected by the size of your business, your accounting needs, the background and experience of the accounting professional, and whether you need a one-time accounting service or require professional accounting services on an ongoing basis. Accountants frequently help their clients with balancing books, preparing tax returns, managing accounts receivable and payable, and preparing financial statements. Here are a few examples of how pricing varies by service from Thumbtack accountants.
|Preparing tax returns||$250|
|Preparing financial statements||$250|
Whether you pay an accountant for a one-time service or hire someone as a full-time staff accountant, several factors will affect the cost of accounting services.
Accountant monthly services
Many accountants also provide ongoing services that include weekly, monthly or quarterly financial reconciliations and reporting. Some accountants can provide an average cost for their services and stipulate a set rate, while other accountants offer a rate once they have consulted with clients to determine the scope of their needs.
For example, Summit Business Team in Lakewood, Washington offers the following monthly business packages:
- $75/month: 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/month: 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/month: includes an online QuickBooks subscription, reconciliation of five accounts with 400 transactions or less, two 60-minute consultations with a CPA and monthly reports.
Cost of tax preparation
Many accountants also offer tax services to their business clients. The cost of completing and filing taxes vary based on the complexity of the return.
For example, 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
How much do accountants charge per hour?
As we previously mentioned, 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.
How to hire an accounting professional
There are a few steps you can take to aid in your decision making and to ensure that you hire an accounting professional who will be the right fit for you or your business:
- Ask for a free consultation: 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.
- Determine your budget: Figure out how much you have to spend on professional accounting help. Aligning in the upfront about your budget will save you both time and energy in the long run.
- Figure out your needs: Do you have a small business or are you a C Corp? Do you need help with financial statements, preparing tax returns, or something else entirely? Knowing your needs before speaking to a tax professional is key in finding the right fit for your business the first time around.
- Nail down the explicit costs: Are there hidden fees or extra costs for extensions that you're unaware of? Always be sure to figure out the exact scope of work and explicit costs before entering into a business partnership with an accounting professional.
- Ask for reviews: Ask for reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right accounting professional for you or your business.
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 should be qualified to assist businesses and individuals with bookkeeping. Due to their advanced certification, CPAs may have higher rates.
Additionally, 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.
Be sure to always inquire about your accounting professional’s certifications to ensure your needs will be met.
How to save money on accounting costs
Hey, business owners like to save a little dough, too! From real estate to technology and healthcare, cost management is important for every business. Here are some ways to save money on accounting costs:
- Sign up for accounting software: If you own a small business, you may only need to hire an accounting professional once or twice a year and supplement with accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks, NolaPro, or Sage.
- Pick and choose your services: If you’re paying by the hour, keeping your services at a minimum will save the accounting professional time and save you (and your bank account) money!
- Organize, organize, organize: Again, if you’re paying by the hour, showing up to your appointment with all of your information organized will save the accounting professional from searching for the information that they need to complete the service.
Benefits of professional accounting services
We get it – the DIY-approach can be appealing, especially if it will save you money. However, when it comes to your books, taxes, and payroll, you want to watch out for amateur mistakes. When you hire an accounting professional, you’re also paying for their expertise, experience, and industry know-how.
Hiring a reputable accounting professional will help keep you on track with all business payments, bookkeeping, cash flow, financial development, and business expenses. If you decide to DIY your own bookkeeping and accounting, the opportunity cost might be that you make a serious financial business mistake. Hiring someone to manage your finances eliminates financial risks because the chances of making serious mistakes are almost none. Regardless of the business size, bookkeeping is important – not only for the purchase records, daily expenses, and sales but also for keeping track of all financial transactions. When you pay for professional accounting services, you will have a detailed record of all financial transactions, which will enable you to predict any potential financial losses or gains.
Accounting professionals are authorities in their field. Thanks to their expertise, they are capable of providing business advice about investments you are planning to make. They can help break down the economic cost of a project before your business takes it on. If you are new in the business world, professional accounting services can help you develop a useful cost accounting strategy and set up a solid structure for your business to be financially stable.
By hiring accounting professionals that are focused on your financial and accounting needs, you will be able to concentrate more on the core goals of your business and to grow your brand. Using a professional accounting service will help you run your business smoothly and avoid any major financial problems in the future.