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Cost of Hiring an Accountant for Your Small Business

Running a small business comes with many responsibilities, including managing finances and keeping track of expenses. While some business owners may choose to handle their own accounting, many find it beneficial to hire a professional accountant to ensure accuracy and compliance with tax laws. But how much does it cost to hire an accountant for a small business? Let’s break down the factors that can impact the cost and the various pricing models used by accounting firms.

Factors Affecting the Cost

The cost of hiring an accountant for your small business can vary based on several factors. The size and complexity of your business, the industry it operates in, and the level of services you require are all considerations that can impact the cost. For example, a small retail business may have simpler accounting needs compared to a professional services firm with multiple revenue streams and complex tax requirements.

Another factor that can affect the cost is the level of experience and expertise of the accountant or accounting firm. A certified public accountant (CPA) with several years of experience may command higher fees than a less experienced accountant. Additionally, the location of your business can play a role in determining the cost, as accountants in major metropolitan areas may charge higher rates than those in smaller towns.

Pricing Models

Accounting firms typically use one of three pricing models: hourly rates, monthly retainer fees, or project-based fees. Hourly rates are common for small businesses with occasional accounting needs. The accountant will track the time spent on your business’s accounting tasks and bill you accordingly. This model can be cost-effective for businesses with minimal accounting needs.

Monthly retainers are another pricing model often used by accounting firms. With a retainer fee, you pay a set amount each month for a specified level of accounting services. This can provide predictability in your accounting costs and is suitable for businesses with ongoing accounting needs.

For specific projects or one-time accounting tasks, such as tax preparation or financial statement analysis, accountants may charge a project-based fee. This pricing model allows for a clear understanding of the cost before the work begins, which can be advantageous for budgeting purposes.

Typical Costs

According to a survey conducted by the National Society of Accountants, the average tax preparation fee for a small business with less than $250,000 in revenue is approximately $500. However, this cost can vary based on the complexity of your tax return and the level of documentation required. Monthly accounting services for a small business can range from $200 to $3000, depending on the volume of transactions and the level of service provided.

CPAs generally charge higher rates than non-certified accountants, with hourly rates ranging from $150 to $400 or more. Keep in mind that the cost of hiring an accountant for your small business should be viewed as an investment in the financial health and compliance of your business.


Hiring an accountant for your small business can be a valuable decision that ensures accurate financial reporting, compliance with tax laws, and strategic financial planning. The cost of hiring an accountant can vary based on factors such as the size and complexity of your business, the level of services required, and the pricing model used by the accounting firm. By carefully considering your business’s accounting needs and budget, you can make an informed decision about the most cost-effective option for your small business. Remember, the cost of hiring an accountant should be viewed in the context of the value they bring to your business’s financial well-being.