Discussion:Per Diem work

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Discussion Forum Index --> Business Growth Community --> Per Diem work


Speitelcpa (talk|edits) said:

30 September 2013
Any insight into how per diem work performed for other CPAs and firms is usually contracted would be much appreciated.

Such as is it typically by the hour, day, on or off site? And how are rates usually figured (% of the contracting company's billing rate vs. % my standard rates or other method)?

I am an experienced CPA (10+ years with a Big 4), and am just starting out on my own as a sole proprietor. I would like to supplement my work load with per diem work, and would greatly appreciate any insight from other experienced sole proprietors that have done it, or those that hire.

Thank you

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

30 September 2013
User profile would be helpful....

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

2 October 2013
I'm not a CPA but do sub-work for a CPA. I'm a QB ProAdvisor and got my EA after I started doing sub-work for him. The first jobs I did for him were in my office and by the hour for bookkeeping work. As he got more comfortable with me, he sent me into his clients' offices to do their bookwork. I also do almost all the QB training for his clients. I do "clean up" projects where the QB is a mess or he simply gets a box of papers. Not the kind of job a CPA wants to do! For most of our jobs, he pays me by the hour. I get paid directly by him. It is not contingent upon him getting payment from the client. I charge more for QB training than for straight bookkeeping. For bookkeeping that is in my office, my staff does the work and I review it before submitting it to the CPA. Occasionally I do a fixed price job for a major cleanup that will take several weeks. His clients call me directly on my cell phone and I answer with my personal name instead of my business name. I say that I work "with" him. If they ask me directly if I am an employee or if I have my own practice, I tell them that I am a subcontractor with my own business and that I have been working with him for many years, i.e. the truth. If they ask an income tax question, I refer them to the CPA because he sees the entire picture of the client and he signs the tax return.

If I have a client that needs a CPA signature for something such as a bond, I refer them to him. It's none of my business what he charges for this. But I know he will treat my clients fairly.

Trust is important in this type of relationship. We know that we won't steal each others clients. I used to do sub-work for another CPA and he tried to steal a $150/mth client from me. Fortunately the client told me! That was simply low class. Needless to say, I stopped doing business with him.

Speitelcpa (talk|edits) said:

3 October 2013
Thank you, Bottom Line.

Southparkcpa (talk|edits) said:

3 October 2013
Your experience is very similar to mine when I opened a practice. I worked per diem for 4 years while I built a base. I never worked for a piece of the fee or a percentage, the clients I was assigned were big and didnt lend themselves to this type fee. I was hourly, kept a time sheet etc. I would add..the work was invaluable. Not just from a money standpoint. I worked for 2 different sole practitioners. Both of whom respected my skill as I did theirs and learned from them many things about running a small office as they had both been in business in excess of 15 years.

The rates here in NC seem to be around $35 to $45 an hour for CPA level work, a little lower for basic tax prep.

Speitelcpa (talk|edits) said:

10 October 2013
Thank you, Southparkcpa!

EZTAX (talk|edits) said:

11 October 2013
If any experienced tax preparers are looking for per diem work in Santa Cruz CA please let me know. We pay hourly wage - no commission.

Speitelcpa (talk|edits) said:

23 October 2013
EZ TAX - if you're able to have any work done remotely, I would be interested.

Cpaga (talk|edits) said:

2 November 2013
I have a full time job as a CFO and am a CPA. Background (long ago 1991 - 1994) Big 4 accounting audit. Since then primarily financial statement accounting in industry but interested in starting own firm eventually but need tax experience. Are local firms generally interested in per diem work with someone available nights / weekends? Would $35 - $40 per hour still be a reasonable rate with no tax experience. Working on CPE for the year now to get up to speed from an education standpoint. Thanks for advice.

Cpaga (talk|edits) said:

2 November 2013
I have a full time job as a CFO and am a CPA. Background (long ago 1991 - 1994) Big 4 accounting audit. Since then primarily financial statement accounting in industry but interested in starting own firm eventually but need tax experience. Are local firms generally interested in per diem work with someone available nights / weekends? Would $35 - $40 per hour still be a reasonable rate with no tax experience. Working on CPE for the year now to get up to speed from an education standpoint. Thanks for advice.

PDXTaxman (talk|edits) said:

2 November 2013
How are you folks defining "per diem" in this context? You mean part-time? That's what EZTax is talking about with the reference to hourly wages. Or do you mean a charge per-return as self-employed contractors -- that is, 1099 status? Maybe I'm a little thick-headed, but "per diem" for me has a much different meaning generally. I've never used it, nor seen it used, in this context.

Cpaga, I'd say you might best develop some tax prep chops by working a season or two on a part-time basis for a busy small-to-medium CPA or EA office (either W2 or 1099). The disadvantages, generally, are that (1) You'll never or rarely meet a client, never do an interview. Those are important skills to develop, but most of the time the principals of the firm handle that part. (2) They'll have a stiff and justified non-compete clause. None of the client you work for can end up as YOUR clients in the 3-4 years after you leave, even if they honestly stumbled onto you on their own, and you might even be barred from opening a shop within X miles of your employer. On the other hand, you'll get to plow through a lot of returns in a short time, and invariably get a chance to review them after the boss has reviewed and corrected, which is a great way to see and learn from your mistakes. While you're there, study other office processes, too. How do they track client progress, how to they ensure finished-and-signed returns really ARE e-filed and not just accidentally put aside, how do they handle their records, etc.

Just remember, when you're hired, to make sure you wouldn't want to open your own office too close by later on. If they want to bar you from opening within 10 or 15 miles for 3-5 years, walk away or negotiate on it. That's not reasonable. 4-5 miles is plenty far enough, 2 years plenty long enough.

I started at H&R Block, and for all the bad-mouthing, there were some advantages. I got to start with live clients from the first day, and I got to run returns from beginning to end. On the other hand, the money is worse than awful. And the quality of the work going out the door is wildly unpredictable. No one will actually review your work (leastways no one did here), and you WILL make mistakes -- everyone does. A great way to lose sleep, when you bolt awake realizing a mistake you made a week before but can't remember whose return it was on. But as I was neither a CPA nor an EA, few CPAs would be inclined to hire me part-time for the season. If they were hiring at my then-level, I'd have gotten $15-$20/hour. With your background, you will have a much easier time finding a position.

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