Subscription Vs. Traditional CPAs & Tax Professionals: An Honest Comparison

Updated: Oct 27

Here at Ryan Beals CPA, PLLC, we operate a little differently than most traditional CPA firms. We offer our services on a monthly subscription basis. We deeply believe in the benefits this service model provides but here's the honest truth... the subscription model is not for everyone. Whether you are looking for a new tax professional or are looking for the first time, we want you to be informed so you can make the right decision for you.


Let's compare and contrast the differences in the following areas:


  • Costs

  • Services

  • Client Relationship

  • Results

  • Budgeting for Expenses



Costs

Subscription

The cost for most clients on a subscription service starts out at $250 a month and goes up depending on the the complexity of the client & numbers of additional returns required to file. A client with a business filing as an S-Corporation with one state filing can expect to pay around $300 a month. The yearly cost in this scenario comes out to be around $3,600 a year.


Traditional

Fees for services at traditional CPA firms can vary widely based on a number of factors. Most traditional CPA firms charge by the hour with rates anywhere from $50-$500/hour but to make things simple let's use amounts that are typical to the average client in the scenario above.

  • Preparation of Individual Return - $600

  • Preparation of S-Corporation Return - $1,200

  • Consulting for S-Corporation & Answering Questions - $1,500

  • Quarterly Tax Estimates - $500

  • Responding to Tax Authority Notices - $600

As you can see, the price can vary widely based on how much assistance is needed. If you have a simple return, and you don't need much help you could expect to pay somewhere around $1,500 but if you need more help and have a somewhat complex return, you could pay upwards to $5,000 and beyond.


Conclusion

While it's very possible you could pay less fees by hiring a traditional CPA firm to file your taxes it's also possible your bill could be much more. Clients on our subscription model know exactly what their fees will be, regardless if you ask a million questions or none.


Winner: Subscription

Services

Subscription

Our subscribers have access to the same core services. Our services are designed to include everything our clients need to have an effective strategy with their taxes. If your goal is to limit unnecessary income taxes related to your business, we believe we offer every service required to meet your goal.


Traditional

Most traditional firms tend to offer a wide range of services. While they may not focus on one type of client, they do tend to offer the most services to fit the most people. Clients that have a wide range of accounting issues will find that a majority of traditional firms, especially larger firms, will have services to resolve most, if not all, of their issues.


Conclusion

The services offered by both have a lot of crossover but whether one is right for you depends on what goal you are trying to achieve. If you are a business owner looking for ways to eliminate unnecessary taxes, the subscription model may be your best option. If you are a business or individual with needs beyond income tax such as needing an audit it addition to filing your taxes, a traditional firm may be the better option. The subscription model works well for who it's intended for but it's not for everyone.


Winner: Traditional - I told you I'd try to be honest, right? Ok.

Client Relationship

Subscription

When I started this firm, I wanted to provide a service that was different. I wanted to feel like I was making an impact in my client's business. The subscription model has allowed us to do just that. We are able to spend more time on each client to not only be sure each client has has a strategy that works for them but to educate each client so they know the why behind the list of to-do's. In my opinion, the subscription model allows for unmatched client relationships.


Traditional

The model that traditional firms place themselves in makes having a relationship with their clients difficult. Most traditional firms only speak with their clients once a year during tax season. On top of that, their is little incentive to spend extra time on clients due to billable hours. While it's not uncommon for clients to stick with the same accountant for years, the traditional model just doesn't allow for deep relationships.


Conclusion

In our opinion, their is no comparison. If you are looking for an accountant that takes the time to know you and your business, the subscription model allows for unmatched quality of relationship.


Winner: Subscription


Results

Subscription

The services offered in the subscription package are designed to reach specific results, eliminate unnecessary taxes related to owning and operating a business. We are able to spend more time on each client to be sure we are achieving the best results. We are so confident that our clients are achieving the best results, our subscription package comes with no commitments. If you aren't satisfied with the services or results, you can cancel your subscription at any time with no cancelation fee.


Traditional

The services provided by most traditional CPA firms are focused on compliance. There is nothing wrong with being compliance focused but if you have goals beyond just being compliant with the various authorities, you may get mixed results depending on the firm.


Conclusion

The subscription model not only allows for better results, it demands results. You can trust that an overwhelming majority of tax professionals are filing your taxes accurately and timely but the difference is that not every firm puts an emphasis on getting better results for the client.


Winner: Subscription

Budgeting For Expenses

Subscription

The ability to budget for expenses is key in running a successful business. Clients on subscription basis are able to plan more effectively due to the fees being consistent month to month. The consistent basis allows business to budget more effectively.


Traditional

Billing in most traditional firms is based on billable hours. This means the cost to prepare a return is not only dependent on how long it takes but the price is indeterminable until the project is complete. This makes budgeting for work difficult.


Conclusion

When budgeting for expenses, subscription pricing has a clear advantage in not only being consistent but also fixed. You can expect the price to remain consistent with plenty of notice ahead of time if prices change. Subscription also smooths out the large expense due once a year and is more palatable to business with less idle cash.


Winner: Subscription

Final Words

Subscription pricing isn't for everyone but to the right business, it can be an effective way to simultaneously manage unnecessary taxes as well as file your business taxes each year. We don't exist to replace traditional CPA firms but to provide an alternative. We hope that this article was helpful in guiding you through some of the differences between subscription based and traditional CPAs and tax professionals.


If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your business develop and implement a strategy to eliminate unnecessary taxes, you can schedule a consultation today by following the link below. Consultations are free with no commitment. If we can't help you we will work to send you to someone who can. We do this because we are passionate about helping you and your business succeed.


We hope to hear from you!


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