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How much do accountants charge?

An accountant’s fees can vary a great deal, depending on the size of your business, the scale of your activities and the services you require.

However, once you know these things, it’s quite easy to estimate the likely cost of your accountant.

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General accounting for small businesses

A small business may be anything from a self-employed contractor to a limited company with up to 50 employees.

Accounting for this kind of enterprise usually includes a range of services delivered as a package, typically including:

  • Annual accounts
  • Bookkeeping
  • Corporation tax returns
  • Director’s personal tax return
  • Monthly and annual payroll returns
  • Quarterly VAT returns
  • Advice on tax avoidance legislation (IR35)
  • Ongoing day-to-day advice from your accountant

The above is a fairly standard core package (some accounting firms may offer more) and is usually delivered for a fixed monthly fee.

For smaller businesses, this monthly fee can be as low as £60 or as high as £450 depending on things like turnover, depth of service and where in the UK your business is.

Businesses with more employees and higher turnover can expect to pay more.

Self-assessment and tax returns

An accountant will charge a one-off fee for an annual self-assessment tax return, which will typically range from £200 to £300 and over, depending on the complexity and scope of your finances.

Broadly speaking, the higher your income and the more sources of income you have, the higher the fee is likely to be.

Fees of around £200 would generally cover basic self-assessment services, while more complex tax returns (for self-employed people or those with unpredictable income streams) would require more work and so involve a higher fee.

Generally speaking, a good accountant should be able to save you some money by identifying tax savings in addition to the time they can save you.

In some cases, your tax bill may decrease to the extent that you end up saving even more than the accountant's fee.

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Other ways to pay your accountant

Many businesses like to pay their accountant a monthly fee as this provides certainty.

However, you can also pay your accountant by the hour or for individual services.

You can also mix and match by paying for some services via a fixed price or monthly fee while paying for more bespoke services by the hour.

An accountant performing the basic accounting services will usually work for between £25 and £35 per hour.

More specialist services like tax planning and business planning advice may be much more expensive, in the region of £125 to £150 per hour.

Accounting fees per service

Some businesses choose to hire their accountant on a service-by-service basis, such as for year-end accounting, VAT returns or payroll services.

Typical one-off fees for such services are as follows:


Turnover / size

Typical fee

Business accounts

£20,000 to £30,000



£100,000 to £130,000



£250,000 to £300,000


Payroll services (incl. PAYE)

50 employees

£200 per month


100 employees

£500 per month

Director’s tax return



VAT returns

£0 to 100,000



£100,000 to 200,000



£200,000 to 400,000


Generally speaking, fees for services like business accounts and VAT returns will rise with company turnover.

Likewise, payroll fees will usually rise with the number of employees. If you own rental properties, then this can add to the cost of your personal tax return.

Remember: the fees given in this guide are for guidance only.

Talk to an accountant about what services you need and ask them to quote their own rates.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare. Also, the cheapest services may not be the best, and the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best either.

You can do your bit to keep accounting fees to a minimum by maintaining good record keeping, providing necessary information in good time and using appropriate software (ask your accountant what package they recommend).

Are you looking for a new accountant? Unbiased can help you find the right one for you.

Considering switching? Check out our latest article on nine reasons to switch your accountant here.

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About the author
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.