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February 23, 2024

How much should I expect to pay a CPA to help me?

How much should I expect to pay a CPA to help me?

It depends on what you are looking to accomplish and the size of your current portfolio or business.

Tax preparation

If you are looking for tax preparation, reputable firms will charge the average landlord around $1,800 – $2,500. If you have a very small portfolio, you’re going to be closer to the $1,500 – $1,800 range. If you have a large portfolio, you can often see bills in excess of $3,000. Price is also influenced by the other income streams you have, the number of states that need to be reported, etc.

Entities that are not single member LLCs must file their own tax returns separate from your personal tax return. Factors affecting price are number of states, number of partners, number of assets held and size of assets held, and business activities.

If your accounting is a mess, you can expect to pay your CPA team extra to clean up your books and develop a presentable financial statement. Contrary to popular belief, accounting and tax preparation are two completely different services.

Accounting

Accounting service fees vary depending on the services you need. Bookkeeping fees are the cheapest because the service is very basic. Landlords can expect to pay $200 per month per property for the average property.

If you are running a large landlording business, flipping/developing properties, or syndicating deals, you likely need much more then bookkeeping. Most of our clients fitting this category invest in Virtual Controller and/or CFO services.

A Virtual Controller will implement account controls, manage the bookkeeper(s), assist in cash flow management, and develop and deliver management and investor reports.

An Outsourced CFO will help the management team with financial analytics, investor reporting, capital structure, and business planning.

If you are running a syndication or a fund, we recommend budgeting 1.5-3% of your gross revenues as bookkeeper and controller fees. CFO fees will often run $180+ per hour.

We see syndications make huge mistakes when budgeting for accounting fees. Often we will see a budget contain only $800 for the entire year for all accounting and tax preparation services. This mistake and will have horrible consequences if you can’t keep up with financial reporting on your own (because you’re going to be doing it on your own with that budget). If there is one area you don’t want to skimp our on when managing other people’s money, it’s your accounting fees.

We do a great job lowering accounting fees by outsourcing the data entry and bookkeeping allowing our team to focus on Controller and CFO services for the client.

Tax Strategy & Planning

Firms charge drastically different rates for advisory services. Many firms bill hourly while others will offer fixed monthly subscription

We tried the subscription model by quoting a client for a certain number of phone calls annually and then spreading out the cost over 12 months. What ended up happening is that we gave only partial value on each quarterly call rather than delivering all the value upfront which would have led to a better client experience. Clients also complained that they were paying us monthly but not talking to us monthly (even though that’s not what the engagement letter stated).

Regardless, we changed our model. Our tax strategy engagements now last 12 months days and can cost as much as $10,000. We do not onboard anyone for tax strategy unless we feel we can provide value in excess of the cost of the engagement.

That’s a bit different than other firms, but we are focused on maximizing value and experience as quickly as we can.

Where should you start?

I’m on a budget, what services would you recommend I spend my limited money on?

We get this a lot and it’s understandable. You’re growing a portfolio and need the cash flow before you can spend lavishly.

If that’s the case, we recommend getting your accounting in-line first. Without great records, no one can prepare an accurate tax return and we can’t provide you with great tax strategies that will actually be impactful because we’d just be guessing.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on accountants and software to maintain clean books. You just have to be diligent about keeping up with your own accounting records and maintaining an accounting system if you choose to do it yourself.

Once your accounting is in order, we recommend buying tax strategy services next. These services will pay for themselves and likely cover multiple years of tax preparation fees.

Last on the totem pole is tax preparation and compliance services. That doesn’t mean they are less important. You can either self-prepare your return or have a tax mill prepare it relatively cheaply for you. A word of caution though: tax compliance can get really difficult and fast. If you are doing it yourself or having a tax mill complete it for you, make sure you thoroughly review every single line prior to submission to the IRS. Also, make sure you have filed every state and local return required.

If you’re interested in our services, check out how we can help here.

Have questions?

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