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CostHelper > Small Business  > Accountant

Accountant Cost

How Much Does an Accountant Cost?

 average costRange: $150-$400 an hour 
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  Typical costs:
  • Accountants charge $150-$400 or more an hour, depending on the type of work, the size of the firm and its location. You'll pay lower rates for routine work done by a less-experienced associate or lesser-trained employee, such as $30-$50 for bookkeeping services.
  • An accountant's total fee depends on the project. For example, if you're considering buying a San Francisco Bay Area business that's for sale for less than $1 million, an accountant's fees for a "due diligence" evaluation of all financial aspects of the company and the transaction could run $5,000-$25,000, according to[1] .
  • For a simple start-up, expect a minimum of 0.5-1.5 hours of consultation ($75-$600) to go over your business structure and basic tax issues. Generally monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements are prepared by a bookkeeper or someone using accounting software, but it can take 0.5-1.5 hours ($75-$600) for an accountant to review these reports looking for trends or discrepancies, and to interpret them, giving advice on future actions.
  • The owner of an established Northern California retail store with 12 employees generates her own monthly financial statements using QuickBooks software but budgets about $300-$400 annually for two hours of consultation with her accountant. Your needs will vary depending on the complexity of your business and your industry, and how much you already understand about business finances.
Related articles: Business Tax Preparation, Accounting Software, Bookkeeper, Payroll Service

What should be included:
  • Good accountants do much more than just record numbers or produce financial reports; they provide guidance and advice, converting your financial data into business information that can be acted upon, according to[2] . Depending on your needs, an accountant can help you choose the most appropriate business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation); determine your working capital needs; set up your overall accounting system; prepare tax returns and give ongoing advice on peak tax efficiency; guide you in understanding and interpreting your standard financial statements; and assist with budgeting, cash flow management, internal controls, lease-or-buy decisions, inventory strategies, pricing and other consulting to help your business grow.
  • Certified public accountants (CPAs) have passed a rigorous exam and are licensed by the state in which they work. The National Society of Accountants[3] lists a number of official designations, such as accredited business accountant (ABA).
Shopping for an accountant:
  •[4] gives tips for selecting the right accountant. It's best to choose someone you feel comfortable with, who has experience in your particular industry.
  • Referrals are available from your state CPA society[5] , The National Society of Accountants[6] and The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
  • Intuit[7] lets you search for local accounting and bookkeeping professionals who are certified to work with its QuickBooks software.
  • Ask other local business owners for referrals and check your state board of accountancy for a CPA's license status.
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