How Much Does a CPA Charge for Bookkeeping for a Small Business?

Samir Sampat

Owning and running a small business is a lot of work. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all the work yourself. Outsourcing makes it easy for any business, of any size, to get all the services and solutions of a larger corporation, but without the investment in staff, training, and so forth. If you’re in the market for someone to manage the books, you might be thinking that it’s time for a CPA, or Certified Public Accountant. Although having a CPA on hand could be handy, it’s often more than most small businesses need. However, it may still be the ideal choice for managing your books in some cases. 

So, in this guide, we’ll talk about what CPAs charge, as well as the difference between a CPA and a bookkeeper, the latter of which is a far more affordable option for SMBs who just need someone to balance the books. 

Average rates vary 

Although several factors will go into determining how much you spend on bookkeeping, there are some standard industry rates that you should be aware of. In the U.S. currently, small businesses are generally charged an hourly rate of $150 to $450 per hour for their bookkeeping needs when they hire a Certified Public Accountant. If you don’t need all the services of a CPA, you could hire a bookkeeper instead, which would cost around $30 to $90 per hour. 

As a small business owner, spending this kind of money could be a challenge. That’s why you need to know your options and make sure that you have the information that you need to choose the best person for the job. And remember, this is an investment in your business, not an expense, and it’s one worth making. The last issue that you want is for something to be wrong with your books or accounting because that can lead to some serious business trouble if you aren’t careful. 

CPAs vs. bookkeepers

Here’s the million-dollar question for every small business owner: which is better? Everyone asks whether they should hire a bookkeeper, which can be more affordable, or if they truly need the skills and expertise of a CPA. Typically, accountants can handle bookkeeping and the other accounting and finance elements of your business. 

  • Accounting includes tracking expenses and income, managing finances, business taxes, audit trails, filing, and all other related elements of finance and bookkeeping, and when handled by an accountant is a dynamic role. 
  • Bookkeeping, on the other hand, is just the keeping of the financial records of the business, preparation of financial statements, and so forth. This is essentially a smaller part of the overall accounting and can be done by a CPA or a bookkeeper, depending on your needs. 

You can have one person handle your accounting and bookkeeping, such as in the case of a CPA, but you might also only need the assistance of a bookkeeper at this point or might have a limited budget. In that case, just make sure that you’re hiring someone who can handle the books, regardless of what their certifications might be. 

What do I need? 

At the very least, businesses should have someone to handle the basic finances and bookkeeping. The more you can afford, of course, the better. You need to make sure that the following are always taken care of:

  • Profit and loss statements
  • Expenses
  • Payroll
  • Employment and other taxes
  • Bank statements
  • Cash flow analysis 
  • Accounts receivable and payable

You can also find information on recordkeeping and what’s required at the IRS website, as well as the U.S. Small Business Administration

Tax planning should be included with your business finances. If you choose to hire a bookkeeper and outsource your taxes specifically to a CPA or other tax expert, that’s one way to go. However, it’s often easier to keep everything together, which is why choosing one CPA to do the job can be the better choice, even though it’s more expensive in most cases. 

Don’t get audited

In addition to hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to assist with keeping your financial records in order, you can also benefit from their assistance if you’re ever called for an audit by the IRS. First, don’t panic because not all audits are bad. Secondly, if you’ve got a CPA on your side already, they’ll make the process so much less stressful. 

Not only will they be able to walk you through the process, but they’ll be able to do all the preparations, find all the old records, ensure that everything is reported accurately, and be ready to go when the auditor arrives. And they can do all this while you’re running your business and worrying about the day-to-day operations. 

While you could manage your books and get by doing your own taxes to a certain degree as a small business owner, why would you want to when there’s help readily available? And when you think of it, the investment in making sure that your finances are in order is one that will always be well-made. 

While you’re outsourcing, who’s handling the communications and admin?

Since we’re talking about outsourcing, we only feel it’s right to remind you of the partnership that’s available from Smith.ai. When you choose our dedicated virtual receptionists to handle your business communications and more, we’ll be there for everything, every minute of the day. From 24/7 phone answering and live website chat to appointment scheduling, lead intake, and so much more, we’ve got you covered. 

Plus, it all comes with a strategy to manage every last detail. What’s more—if you’re still working on that outreach and self-promotion, ask how we can assist with outbound sales support and outreach campaigns, too. 

Learn more when you schedule a consultation to discuss what the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do for your small business. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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