What Is the Average Cost of an Accountant?

  • You may decide to hire an accountant for filing tax returns or additional services.
  • The cost of an accountant may depend on their hourly fee and the work they’ll need to complete.
  • Choosing the right accountant may hinge on the experience you’d prefer.

If you need to have an accountant prepare your tax returns or help with business management, we’ve gathered information on the average costs of accounting services and tips on what to look for in an accountant.

Keep in mind that accounting fees may vary due to many factors, including which state you live in and the level of experience required for the complexity of your situation.

Average costs of an accountant

Anjali Jariwala, a CFP® professional at Fit Advisors and former CPA, says accounting fees will likely depend on the work that will need to be completed.

“For someone who has super basic returns — so W2 income, maybe just taking the standard deductions — those will probably be in the few $100 range,” says Jariwala. “Once you start getting more complex — if you have


income, you own a home, maybe you have some unique investments — that’s when the fee starts to go up, so it really varies.”

The National Society of Accountants conducts an annual survey asking members to provide information on the average costs and fees for tax preparation and additional accounting services.

Below, you’ll find the average costs of different services compiled with data from the NSA’s most recent survey.

Average costs for tax return documents

Typically, accounting firms charge an average fee of $69.75 for filing W-2 forms and $67.72 for 1099 forms.

You can also use this chart to get a rough estimate of average costs for additional federal tax return forms:

An accounting firm typically charges the following average fees for federal tax return schedules:

Average costs of additional client services

An accounting firm typically charges the following fees for accounting client services:

Hiring a certified public accountant a tax preparer

If you’d like to hire a professional to prepare your tax returns, Jariwala says it’s important to understand what your priorities are, so you can determine the amount of expertise you’ll need for your situation.

Enrolled Agents and CPAs have to take an exam and fulfill certain designation requirements to receive their respective designations. Meanwhile, tax preparers may work solely on preparing tax forms since they don’t have the educational experience or credentials to provide additional accounting services.

“If you’re a small business, you might be better suited using someone who’s a CPA because they’re going to have that accounting experience, which is very helpful in addition to the tax experience,” says Jariwala.

Tips for choosing an accountant

Lisa Greene-Lewis, a CPA and tax expert at TurboTaxwarns that you should not pay an accountant based on the outcome of their work.

“If someone tells you, ‘I’m going to get a certain amount of tax refund for you, so the charge will be this amount.’ That’s a red flag. You should never pay based on that,” advises Greene-Lewis.

When choosing an accountant, Jariwala says it’s helpful to understand how an accountant charges.

“Some charge a flat fee based on the type of return. Those are a little easier to understand because you know what you’re going to pay. Others will charge rates and hours. Rates and hours depend on how much time the various people on the team are taking,” explains Jariwala.

You also may want to consider whether you prefer working with an individual or an accounting firm. Jariwala points out that a one-person shop might be ideal if your needs are straightforward since the same person will be able to address your needs.

“However, you might decide like, ‘I need someone who can do my taxes, but I also need somebody who can review my book and someone who can answer questions about planning.” In that scenario, you might want to go with a firm versus just a one-person shop because the firm should have multiple disciplines within the same office that can really take care of all your needs,” adds Jariwala.

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