General Guidelines

We consider it a point of personal honor to charge fair and reasonable fees in exchange for excellent professional services. Generally, our fees are based on a combination of the following:

  • Time spent
  • Complexity of the engagement
  • Level of expertise required
  • Prior year's fee or estimate given
  • Comparable fees charged by other CPAs

Knowing Where To Put The “X”

We don't know if this story is true, but it works for us.

An elderly gentleman retired from his 40-year job as equipment maintenance engineer at a manufacturing plant. He was given a token parting gift by the company - no "golden handshake" or exotic pension plan. After he'd been retired for a few months, he received an urgent call from the plant manager. An expensive piece of machinery critical to operations had failed, and production had ceased as the equipment maintenance staff struggled to repair it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were being lost each day the production line was down. The elderly engineer told the manager he would return to the plant to look at the machine, but as an outside consultant. The plant manager agreed, saying, "Anything you want, just help us out."

The engineer arrived at the plant, tested the machine and looked it over for about five minutes. He then walked over to the drawings of the machine and drew an "X" over a small component in the interior of the machine. "Replace this part, and the machine will work perfectly again, " he said. Then he left. The part was quickly replaced, and he was right - the machine began operating and production was up again within the hour.

Two weeks later the plant manager received a bill from the elderly engineer: $50,000 for consulting services. Remembering the engineer had spent only five minutes looking at the machine and identifying the problem, the plant manager telephoned the elderly gentleman and angrily demanded a detailed invoice. The following day the invoice arrived:

  • Time spent identifying the problem: $5.00
  • Knowing where to put the “X”: $49,995.00

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Professional accounting services are not interchangeable, and frequently "you get what you pay for." Just like other professionals (such as doctors and lawyers), some accountants are good and some are not so good. Some charge higher fees than others. We are not the cheapest service in the area, but we are not the most expensive, either.

Al has spent many years in college, passed a rigorous C.P.A. exam, obtained the required years of experience, and annually updates his skills with at least forty hours of continuing professional education. He researches tax issues using a wide array of materials, always searching for the best approach to minimize taxes for our clients while staying within the law. He has been a professional accountant for over 15 years. He knows where to put the "X."

Avoiding Misunderstandings

Fee disputes are unusual because we believe our invoices are fair and reasonable. The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to ask questions before deciding to ask us to do the work. We are happy to answer questions about the billing policies, and we are not trying to trick you into being liable for more than you intended.

Many clients request fee estimates in advance. We try to determine the level of complexity before giving a likely fee range. Please remember this is just an estimate, not a final commitment. If the work turns out to be significantly more difficult than we originally thought, the fees will be higher than the estimate.

Occasional phone calls from established clients are not billed. We also do not bill potential new clients just asking about our services. We do not sell a product - all we have to sell is our time and expertise. Please understand that to stay in business we must charge for my time as surely as a retail store must charge for its products. Therefore, we do not offer free initial consultations. If you decide to trust us with your sensitive financial information, it seems logical this trust would extend to our integrity in rendering accurate and honest professional invoices. Our fees are what they are. Once we prepare an invoice after the work has been done, that is what we have earned. Like everyone else, we deserve to be paid for my hard work.

We have found over the years that full disclosure and open communications regarding fees almost always produce a respectful and productive business relationship. Thank you for considering our firm for your accounting needs. To receive a personalized quote, please complete the following questionnare.