How Much Should A Firm Spend On Accounting


Accounting is responsible for managing financial transactions, interpreting, summarizing, and analyzing the financial statements for improved decision-making. Without accounting services, firms will not have insights into their financial standing, performance, and progress. Moreover, companies assess their position compared to other competitors in the market.

Thus, accounting is one of the most crucial aspects of a business. Companies must spend adequately but not too much in handling these services. The reason is that although accounting plays an integral part in a firm’s functioning, it does not generate income directly. Thus, the inefficiencies regarding these services must be minimal to zero.

Businesses have to allocate costs and resources to all the functions and departments. It includes accounting services as well. Firms must ensure that the accounting department does not go overboard with their activities and spend unnecessarily. Thus, financial allocation will occur in such a way that will effectively suit the firms’ needs.

Accounting is not a core but supporting operation for many industries. It does not generate income through its sources but reflects how a company earns, what it does with the profits, and other financial decisions. Due to this reason, businesses might want to reduce budgeting costs for accounting services or prevent additional fees. However, knowing and tracking these expenses can challenge small businesses. 

Declining accounting costs can have various reasons, from overpayment risk to a desire to improve efficiency and reduce costs. It prompts businesses to assess and analyze their needs and reflect accordingly. Determining how much a company spends on accounting, bookkeeping, and controller functions is tough. It does not have any magic formula to clear these expenses. The accounting costs depend on several factors, like location (urban accountants charge more than rural), processing (manual or automated), etc. However, firms need to estimate them to track and measure their performance and impact on the overall processing. The accounting and bookkeeping costs must generate more returns, even though measuring them is challenging. 

Accounting costs: What does it include?

Before calculating accounting costs, firms need to know what they are and their elements. Accounting expenses refer to overheads incurred in running the accounting department smoothly and efficiently. It includes the following costs:


Accounting overheads are expenses incurred on supporting tasks of a firm. These expenses do not impact profits directly. They are crucial for a business—for instance, monthly rent payments. The accounting department must maintain a complete, up-to-date, reliable financial transactions record. 

A small business owner must keep the accounting overhead costs as low as possible. It allows companies to generate more profits. However, cutting crucial corners is not the solution. Instead, optimizing them for effective management helps fit the business’ needs. 

Accounting fees:

Businesses do not run their accounting department without professional expertise. They hire CPAs, bookkeepers, and other related accounting positions to run the department seamlessly. The human resources employed by the business charge fees for their services, and it varies as per the employment nature of the personnel. For instance, an in-house accountant receives a salary, employee benefits, medicare, and several other obligations.

Since bookkeepers are more into entry and less into strategic financial tasks, their costs are lower than an accountant. On the other hand, outsourcing accounting services charge a fee for the package they provide to the business. Moreover, charges may range from per hour to weekly, monthly, or other. Companies can reduce the accounting fees by handling specific activities themselves. For instance, firms can implement accounting software to record transactions, and process payroll, receivables, payables, and inventory. 

Manual vs. automated accounting costs:

Businesses also incur more expensive manual accounting processing expenses than automated functions. Automated software may have a high upfront initial investment, but it is quicker to break even in the current times. Moreover, companies benefit from the time and resource savings through automation that manual processing doesn’t have. Traditional manual practices rely heavily on paper, physical entries, and related methods. The room for errors and financial wrongdoings is immense in manual processing. Automation safeguards accounting services to a certain extent with tools like advanced encryption, multifactor authentication, etc.

Accounting costs vary for every business because of their size, nature, methods, etc. The average accounting costs for small businesses across different industries are as follows:

Total- $1000 per year

Costs breakdown- 

  1. Financial costs take up to 47%
  2. Administrative costs and time taken by accounting services take 13%
  3. Compliance complexity management considers 13%
  4. Changing regulations and confusion regarding implementation are 10%
  5. 8% of these costs are owing to paperwork
  6. Inequity in the tax code takes another 8%

Along with the cost breakdown, let us consider the time spent by businesses on tax preparation:

  1. 40% of small businesses spend more than 80 hours
  2. 18% spend between 41-80 hours
  3. 15% spend around 21- 40 hours
  4. 28% spend less than 21 hours

Businesses can incorporate efficiency and reduce costs by allocating time and money optimally to these functions. Hiring an accountant can help plan the course in a better strategic way. Companies cannot spend ‘X%’ of their revenue on accounting expenses. The complexities and uniqueness of the business and its financial reporting needs will affect the costs. At a particular point, firms may need advanced expertise in job costing reporting, inventory management, or other issues. However, at different points, they may be happy with the basic accounting and bookkeeping functions. Thus, several areas require consideration for expense calculation. 

Small businesses may feel confused about the automation, expertise requirements, and expenses they must incur in their processing. These costs vary for every company, and reviewing them requires matching fees and returns generated with different available alternatives. 

Winding up:

Accounting services can have higher expense allocation without the business realizing it. It may be due to several reasons, but companies must try their best to consider every factor and convert the values into numbers. Monitoring these expenses is equally critical to enhancing profits and efficiency in the firm’s functioning.