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Advice on accountant bill extras

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Hi Guys

Hope you can help.

I'm a property developer and pay my accountant a fixed £180 a year. He now wants to start charging extra for advice. Having read this site I note that most of you offer free advice. Can my accountant even charge extra for this legally?

Also, I haven't paid my accountant for a few years because I have questionned his bills. He won't provide a breakdown of materials and labour and looking online I think his charges are excessive. Can anyone suggest what I should pay for this work? It is pretty easy - one maybe two sales a year and not much profit - certainly nothing like the 20 hours I could get for £180 elsewhere!

Last, I think I'll end up leaving my accountant. His charges and him wanting to charge extras and the fact he has clearly made errors this year (I have a tax bill even though I don't have any money in the bank) etc. Does anyobody have any advice on getting the right accountant who wont sting me on price?

Thanks in advance

Chris

Replies (59)

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By David Ex
20th Feb 2022 15:14

cwconstruct wrote:

I'm a property developer and pay my accountant a fixed £180 a year. He now wants to start charging extra for advice. Having read this site I note that most of you offer free advice. Can my accountant even charge extra for this legally?

I assume that you are one of the regulars on here who has created a new account to give us all a laugh.

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Replying to David Ex:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 15:33

Not a regular anywhere. Glad you find it funny. 2 years of covid, material prices doubling, worst weather in 100 years! I'm certainly not laughing. As I see it, a fixed fee is fixed end of. I may ask more questions that others but I bet their fees don't go down as a result.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By GHarr497688
20th Feb 2022 15:37

If you were my client I would be relieved you went. When you move Accountants you will join the real world.

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Replying to GHarr497688:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 16:41

The real world eh? Sitting on a roof in storm Eunace. Delays. Covid shut down. All of it means it takes longer to get the work done. But does the price of the house go up? No. Isn't that the real world.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By gillybean04
20th Feb 2022 17:21

I think you're confusing price and value. The value is determined by market conditions. The price is determined by the seller.

Normally, the price of a property will be relatively close to the value of the property. But not always.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By Leywood
20th Feb 2022 16:55

£180 doesn’t cover advice.

£180 is cheap as chips.

Why would an accountant give you a breakdown of materials and labour?

You would already have been shown the door if you had not paid after one year.

20hours! You really think you will get an Accountant for £9ph? You wouldn’t even get a good bookkeeper for that!

Your bank balance has absolutely no relevance to your tax. Perhaps that is where you are going wrong with your business.

You seem to have ignored the fact that the Accountant is also having to manage through covid and has had increased costs.

What a nerve!

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Replying to Leywood:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 17:10

L and M breakdown cos I want to know how much he is marking up exactly what rate he charges and how long it takes him. Its standard stuff that I used to be asked all the time. Until I get this simple answer I don't pay simple.

For info £9 is above minimum wage which is more than I get. On some websites I can get an accountant for less than £8 and I can also get everything done for about 50.

I don't understand your bit about Covid. He never had to stop work. Nothing changed. Now works from home inside. No loss. Only savings. If anything I'd expect lower bills not increased prices.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By gillybean04
20th Feb 2022 17:37

Why does it matter how long it takes him? Or what costs were incurred? You agreed a fixed fee. Do you not understand what that means?

If his hourly rate + costs would be more than the fixed fee, are you going to pay the extra? Or would you be insisting it doesn't matter, because you agreed a fixed fee?

You may be able to get someone who calls themselves an accountant for that price, but if so they must be the world's worst accountant. We have supervision, membership, software, office, website, PII, IT security solution fees etc on top of our strong desire to eat and continue living. Therefore if someone is charging minimum wage for accountancy services, they'd be operating at a loss. If they're that bad at managing their own business, you probably don't want them anywhere near yours.

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Replying to David Ex:
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By GHarr497688
20th Feb 2022 15:35

I would assume the same - my software cost alone would use up a majority of his excessive £180 fee. Wonder if it's Jim Harra in alias!

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Replying to GHarr497688:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 16:44

I have software too and it is certainly more than £180. But it saves me time and keeps me legal with health and safety. I don't charge my customers extra for it. Its just an overhead I have to bear.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By GHarr497688
20th Feb 2022 17:07

loopy

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Replying to David Ex:
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By Paul Crowley
20th Feb 2022 17:40

I read it the same

EDIT
Having read all comments I am indeed convinced, this is a spoof

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Leywood
20th Feb 2022 17:52

just come out of the pub.

It’s utter tosh.

Good for a Sunday giggle.

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By Not Anonymous
20th Feb 2022 15:34

Will this post be honoured with one of Lions chuckles??

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Replying to Not Anonymous:
RLI
By lionofludesch
20th Feb 2022 18:02

Not Anonymous wrote:

Will this post be honoured with one of Lions chuckles??

Just for you ....

[chuckle]

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By Yossarian
20th Feb 2022 16:06

If you were my client I'd gladly give you some advice for free. Part of it might include the word 'off'.

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Replying to Yossarian:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 16:47

You all seem such a kind lot. I can assure you from that comment you would not be my accountant.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By GHarr497688
20th Feb 2022 17:12

God no luv , you would be the client from hell. Wants unlimited work just because it's a fixed Fee. In 1985 when I started in Accounts an I & E would be around £120 plus VAT so 37 years later being charged £180 I would take your Accountant out and thank him for such a reasonable fee. Your a lucky man.

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Replying to GHarr497688:
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By David Ex
20th Feb 2022 17:23

GHarr497688 wrote:

Your a lucky man.

Not so sure about that. The chances of someone charging £180 for the work involved are unlikely to be very good, I suspect. I dread to think what problems might be piling up for the OP. I wonder if the £180pa includes VAT advice on the complexities of property development?? CIS/PAYE ...?

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Replying to David Ex:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 17:42

He doesn't do VAT or CIS my wife does it. It is straight forward. VAT is always a refund (there is no VAT on new homes). Only have 3 contractors on CIS. He just does my accounts. Perhaps that is why everyone thinks I'm being unreasonable.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By David Ex
20th Feb 2022 18:07

cwconstruct wrote:

He doesn't do VAT or CIS my wife does it. It is straight forward. VAT is always a refund (there is no VAT on new homes). Only have 3 contractors on CIS. He just does my accounts. Perhaps that is why everyone thinks I'm being unreasonable.

Nope. £180 for "just" the accounts is still too low (for a decent job) by quite a large margin. Who does your company/personal tax?

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Replying to David Ex:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 19:34

Erm. Not sure what you mean. To state the obvious accountant does my accounts company and personal tax. Didn't realise I needed to spell that out on an accounting website.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By David Ex
20th Feb 2022 21:48

cwconstruct wrote:

Erm. Not sure what you mean. To state the obvious accountant does my accounts company and personal tax. Didn't realise I needed to spell that out on an accounting website.

That’s probably because you have zero knowledge about accounting practices.

Proverbs 17:28 is in point here.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
20th Feb 2022 17:05

Ha ha! He meant to put £1800 I expect.

£180 is just your weekend bar bill, "Chris"; beginning Friday afternoon in the boozer when you meet up with and pay your cash-in-hand tradesmen, through Saturday when you watch wall-to-wall football and swill lager, and stretching into Sunday lunchtime when you and your clan head to the all-you-can-woof Toby Carvery to slop gravy down your Sunday-best t-shirts.

£180 is also what you pay for a pair of naff and uncomfortable £10 trainers sporting a £170 logo, which your family so crave. £180 also happens to be the hourly rate of the tax lawyer you'll need to hire when the tax inspector catches up with you and puts salt on your tail.

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By gillybean04
20th Feb 2022 17:09

Why would it be an error for you to have a tax bill despite having no money in the bank? I can't remember that ever being a get out of paying tax, or I'd keep mine under the mattress.

You agreed a fixed fee, why do you need an itemised breakdown? What purpose would it serve? You agreed a price (and imo, a cheap/reasonable one). You also seem to think that you can get an accountant for less than minimum wage, from your 20 hours comment.

I can't think of a single scenario where a skilled or qualified professional would work for close to NMW, nevermind less than.

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Replying to gillybean04:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
20th Feb 2022 17:33

It's a spoof post, GillyBean.... property developers are perfectly used to paying expensive tradesmen. And expensive architects and solicitors and planning consultants and estate agents; not to mention accountants.

Son #1 has a property developer on his £45 hr private maths tuition round. Well, his offspring that is... he doesn't teach the developer. Anyhow, it's the only client that pays him cash and when they settle up the developer's wife pulls out a wadge of notes from her handbag - a few thousand pounds - and peels him off £500 or so without batting an eyelid. Pocket money! He tells me she has pairs of spare shoes that cost more than that.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Paul Crowley
20th Feb 2022 17:45

Agree
A subcontractor that has no skills? Possibly
A contractor that builds houses? Spent all my money on cigarettes and whisky and wild wild women, thinks no tax bill? Naahh

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 17:45

I only do one or two houses a year. Every penny matters. Subbies are all mates rates. Architect is my uncle and doesn't charge. I make a small living. Not in the same league as the developers you know.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
20th Feb 2022 19:59

cwconstruct wrote:

I only do one or two houses a year. Every penny matters. Subbies are all mates rates.

Don't tell me... £180 a week cash in hand?

cwconstruct wrote:

Architect is my uncle and doesn't charge.

Well I'm glad I don't have you for a nephew!

cwconstruct wrote:
I make a small living. Not in the same league as the developers you know.

They do better than you because they pay subbies, architects, and tax advisors at their market rates. You must try it sometime - people perform so much better when you pay them fairly ;-)

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By gillybean04
20th Feb 2022 17:53

Unfortunately I've had far too much experience with people to discount it being in earnest.

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By SXGuy
20th Feb 2022 17:37

This has to be a wind up surely lol

But if it isn't. Go find yourself that accountant who would charge less and give you a breakdown. And we'll all wait for you to come back in 6 months crying as they have royally screwed everything up for you

The cheek to think any of us would get out of bed for £9 p/h lol.

Property developer? No mate, with that kind of fee your really a property rental landlord. Let's be honest, because that's the only time I'd ever see an accountant charge £180 for ANY sort of property related accounting.

If you're gonna make stuff up, at least make it believable.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By David Ex
20th Feb 2022 18:12

SXGuy wrote:

The cheek to think any of us would get out of bed for £9 p/h lol.

No? It's a generous 19p per hour "premium" on national minimum wage, 'don't cha know'! Surely adequate reward for all those years of studying and hard work gaining knowledge and experience.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
20th Feb 2022 17:58

[sigh]

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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 19:46

For those doubters I have literally spent the entire afternoon looking and have found hundreds of people who will do this for less. All with excellent reviews on peopleperhour and Upwork. Ive also found lots of highly rated accountants on google that offer free advice and support and will do everything (including CIS and VAT) for the same price I currently pay. Looks like its not all doom and gloom after all. A few hours of looking and I've saved money!

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By tom123
20th Feb 2022 19:52

Are they qualified?
Do they have practice certificates?
Do they have insurance?

If something looks too good to be true or usually is.

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Replying to tom123:
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By cwconstruct
20th Feb 2022 20:03

They all say they are chartered accountants but most don't all publish their qualification certificates. Early days so not sure about insurance but if they employ people or have an office I suppose they must have.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
RLI
By lionofludesch
20th Feb 2022 20:23

cwconstruct wrote:

They all say they are chartered accountants but most don't all publish their qualification certificates. Early days so not sure about insurance but if they employ people or have an office I suppose they must have.

[Chuckle]

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By Leywood
20th Feb 2022 20:38

[quote=cwconstruct] ‘They all say they are chartered accountants but most don't all publish their qualification certificates.’

Hilarious

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By Paul Crowley
20th Feb 2022 21:02

Do they publish their names?
If so easy to check

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By David Ex
20th Feb 2022 20:00

cwconstruct wrote:

For those doubters I have literally spent the entire afternoon looking and have found hundreds of people who will do this for less. All with excellent reviews on peopleperhour and Upwork. Ive also found lots of highly rated accountants on google that offer free advice and support and will do everything (including CIS and VAT) for the same price I currently pay. Looks like its not all doom and gloom after all. A few hours of looking and I've saved money!

That is just complete and utter nonsense. There is precisely no-one with even the most basic accounting knowledge who would offer what you suggest at less than £180 pa. Anyone telling you they will is either lying or so profoundly stupid that they don’t actually understand the question.

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Replying to cwconstruct:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
20th Feb 2022 20:19

You must know enough not to let a brickies' labourer loose on a gas boiler, or have a painter's apprentice mess around with electrics. A lot of what you're seeing will be people who are out of their depth (not to mention out of the UK). Good luck with that.

They'll still want paying extra for tax advice though. Whatever you're being quoted online by the UK-based Peopleperhour is just your table-stake; their loss-leader to hook you in. What services will they perform for that? Nothing much!

Anyone can call themselves an accountant - maybe you should ask your architect uncle who works pro bono if he'll be yours. Then you could really save some money!

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By Hugo Fair
20th Feb 2022 20:43

Hi Guys

Hope you can help.

I'm an accountant and pay my property developer a fixed £180 a year. He now wants to start charging extra for things not in the contract. Having read this site I note that most of you offer free work. Can my property developer even charge extra for this legally?

Also, I haven't paid my property developer for a few years because I have questioned his bills. He won't provide a breakdown of materials and labour and looking online I think his charges are excessive. Can anyone suggest what I should pay for this work? It is pretty easy - one maybe two houses a year and not much profit - certainly nothing like the 20 hours I could get for £180 elsewhere!

Last, I think I'll end up leaving my property developer. His charges and him wanting to charge extras and the fact he has clearly made errors this year (I have a electricity bill even though I don't have any money in the bank) etc. Does anybody have any advice on getting the right property developer who won't sting me on price?

Thanks in advance

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
20th Feb 2022 21:00

A further note for whomsoever has to adjudicate on whether the question or bits of the thread get chopped, the CW Construction Ltd that "Chris" purports to be a director of does indeed exist, although it has yet to file its first set of accounts.

Which rather puts into doubt the OP's claims of what he is normally charged. That company's accountants are mob-handed and look expensive. Time to fess up, "Chris"... the glass slipper doesn't fit you. Are you that dodgy bookkeeper from Derby that Ruddles pursues so relentlessly through time and space? Usual trick of choosing a real company and a real person and impersonating them?

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By kenny achampong
20th Feb 2022 20:56

Trolling: And he's already had 40 hits, make this 41.

"In internet slang, a troll is a person who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), a newsgroup, forum, chat room, online video game, or blog), with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses,[2] or manipulating others' perception. This is typically for the troll's amusement."

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By GHarr497688
20th Feb 2022 21:37

It’s a con he is advertising websites . Gotcha …

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By bernard michael
21st Feb 2022 09:38

Your accountant will be very grateful if you do go but you won't find another easily
Are you saying he works 20 hours for £180. I hope not
Also you also say you haven't paid him for a number of years. If he's still working for you he must be totally stupid. Are you sure he's still alive ??

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By Catherine Newman
21st Feb 2022 10:59

No new accountant will take you on while fees remain unpaid. Try to find one for £180-that's a challenge for you.

Have sadly just looked at People Per Hour as I get notified. You haven't actually requested a bid.

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ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
21st Feb 2022 11:02

Do you trade as a limited company? Ie does he do company accounts, company tax return, confirmation statement & personal tax return for £180 (or is it £150+VAT), or does he just do your personal tax return?

Who does the bookkeeping? Presumably your wife is if she also does the VAT. In which case, is your wife giving him access to the bookkeeping software and he’s literally just typing her numbers into his accounting software? If you’re a sole trader (not a company ie just does your tax return), then I can see him doing that for £150+VAT, no advice, no review of the numbers, simply filing what you gave him.

If it’s for a company, are you sure it’s not £150+VATpcm?

The people who’ve quoted you <£8/hr, where are they based? I don’t mean Manchester or London, I mean UK or India?

Your software costing >£180 may help you stay compliant for H&S, ours helps you stay compliant for tax. You may not charge clients extra for yours, but I bet (consciously or otherwise) you take its cost into consideration when quoting for work. eg sales-cost=gross profit, which needs to cover your overheads (which include the software cost).

Covid: not sure whether you’re aware (it was in the press briefly), but Rishi introduced a couple of small grant schemes which accountants were expected to (and in the whole did), process on behalf of clients for free. So whilst covid shut you down, we were all 2x busier than normal. For 18 months. With many clients that stoped paying us as they were shut, but still needed us to do the grant work (for free) in the hope that they still existed once Covid was over. I had to furlough staff as our income dropped drastically (and nurseries shut so parents had no childcare), but those of us did who did work were working upto 12hr days for the same money to get everyone’s free grant work done.

It’s possible that I might (in the past) have filed your tax return without having been paid, but not now. Even then, after 3 months of non-payment, I’d’ve disengaged you and taken you to small claims. Now, no money no filey. If he’s still doing your accounts without you paying him, what does it matter what he charges? It’s notional if you’re not paying it.

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By codling
21st Feb 2022 11:23

I wonder whether there is a misreading of the rates for these chartered accounts and they are really £180 per hour!!

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Replying to codling:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
21st Feb 2022 11:53

Or per month. £180 monthly isn't uncommon for a table-stake.

Besides, if you look up the company at Cos House Beta, "Chris" has yet to file its first set of accounts. So there is no usual rate. The registered office is the accountants' address, who look as though they belong in the upper pricing quartiles. £180 wouldn't cover the vet's fees for their office dog (honestly, they have a dog in their employees' mugshot gallery. Go see!)

I believe this post could be the work of our old friend from Derby, whose modus operandi is to impersonate real people: https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/thieving-derby-bookkeep...
He hasn't trolled the forum since last summer, when he purported to be a (real) bookkeeper from Gloucester who was a rocker / biker (not real).

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