How to Account for Consulting Expenses


Managing your expenses as a consultant doesn’t have to be complicated – and we’re here to prove it! In this blog post, we’ll show you how to accurately and easily manage your consulting expenses, so you can focus on what’s important: providing the best service possible to your clients. So read on, and start accounting with confidence!


In the world of business, professionals and corporate clients often rely on the services of consulting experts to help deliver timely advice, accurate advice and provide further insights into a wide range of topics. As such, accounting for these associated expenses can be an important consideration for many businesses.

In this guide, we will provide an overview of the basic procedures that can be followed when accounting for consulting expenses. By taking these steps, businesses will be able to effectively manage their overall financial commitments while ensuring that they do not incur any unnecessary costs.

  • We will start by exploring the different types of consulting services that are available and how each service is typically paid for.
  • We will then look at the best practices that should be followed when invoicing clients and ensuring accurate information is recorded.
  • Finally, we will discuss the key considerations that businesses should take into account when attempting to track costs associated with consulting services.

Defining Consulting Expenses

When running a business, consulting expenses may be necessary to cover costs related to acquiring advice or services from outside individuals or agencies. Cafeteria plans, employee education programs and fringe benefits are also generally considered to be consulting expenses.

It is important to keep accurate records of all out-of-pocket expenses in order to ensure the deductions taken on tax returns are correct and compliant with IRS regulations. Businesses should consult with a qualified accountant when attempting to secure deductions for past or future consulting expenses.

Common Consulting Expenses

Consulting expenses may include the following:

  • Consulting fees – These fees cover the cost of knowledge and expertise provided by an individual or organization specializing in a particular field. Consulting fees should include any exclusive rights that go along with hiring a consultant, such as their sole understanding of the company’s products and services.
  • Employee education – Training can be expensive but can benefit businesses significantly. Employers may seek out training programs for their employees in order to stay competitive in their chosen markets, develop unique skills and increase job satisfaction amongst staff members.
  • Fringe benefits – Benefits such as health insurance and retirement may be seen as part of consulting acquisitions depending on what kind of agreement has been made between employer and employee. These benefits are essential for keeping an experienced team well-compensated and motivated while on the job.
  • Cafeteria plans – This type of plan allows employers to provide limited choices for employees when it comes to selecting certain benefits like health care premiums, retirement savings vehicles and daycare options—all dependent on IRS guidelines set by the U.S government.

Establishing a System for Tracking Consulting Expenses

Having a reliable way to track consulting expenses is essential for any business that contracts out freelance work. This not only ensures that payments are made promptly and appropriately, but it can also help streamline budgeting and forecasting capabilities. There are a few simple steps you can take to make the process of tracking consulting expenses easier and more efficient.

  • Organization – It’s important to have a system in place where you can easily store any paperwork related to your consulting engagements. Documenting these types of expenses requires a certain degree of organization so that when it comes time to do your taxes, you have everything in one place for easy reference. When setting up this system, consider categorizing documents according to client/consultant name, type of service provided, location of service provided and date of service provided.
  • Invoicing – Before entering into an agreement with any consultant or freelancer, be sure that you have clear terms spelled out including the agreed-upon fee structure as well as when invoices should be sent and received by both parties. Relying on regular paper invoices can lead to error or delay in getting payments processed correctly so utilizing an automated invoicing system might be beneficial here as well.
  • Payment Processing – Depending on the size and nature of your company’s activities with consultants or freelancers, it may make sense to set up separate payment processing accounts for easier tracking capabilities. Keeping separate accounts makes expense tracking much simpler when tax time comes around each year as you’ll be able to easily track which accounts paid what invoice amounts during what period. Additionally, having multiple payment processing systems in place will give flexibility should one system become unavailable due to technical issues or other unforeseen circumstances.

Recording Consulting Expenses

Recording consulting expenses accurately is an essential part of accounting for your business. You need to make sure that you are categorizing expenses correctly in order to get the right reports and stay compliant. Consulting expenses generally include payments for services rendered and may be recorded differently than other general business expenses.

When you are recording consulting expenses, the key is to create separate accounts for each type of expense and provide itemized invoices when appropriate. For example, if you have hired a consultant to design a website, you would have a category specifically for website design fees and itemize each service separately.

To make this process easier, it’s best to use software that is designed for tracking consulting fees and producing accurate invoices. This will ensure that all of your records are up-to-date, so you don’t lose any important details in the process. Using software can help simplify tax-related issues as well as ensuring compliance with HR laws and regulations.

It’s also important that you keep good records of services rendered by external consultants who are not on your payroll, such as those who may have provided legal advice or marketing assistance temporarily. Proper documentation will help ensure that these fees can be accurately reported in your financial statements at the end of the year.

Claiming Deductible Consulting Expenses

When conducting business as a consultant, there are certain deductible expenses that you may claim on your taxes. Deductible consulting expenses are typically incurred in pursuit of furthering the business operations and maximizing earnings. Knowing which expenses qualify for deduction is important in ensuring that you receive the best possible tax break throughout the year.

In order to claim deductions, a few criteria must be met. Keep in mind that all expenses supporting your business should be accurately reported and properly documented with receipts or invoices depicting the type and amount of expense incurred. Keeping track of these detailed records will help you qualify as many deductions as possible and avoid potential problems that can occur at tax time due to incomplete or inaccurate reporting.

Qualifying deductible consulting expenses may include items such as:

  • Marketing costs (e.g., business cards, flyers)
  • Commission fees and royalty payments associated with selling items or services
  • Costs associated with creating a business website
  • Liability insurance premiums
  • Membership fees for professional organizations related to your profession or industry
  • Some legal and accounting costs associated with running a business
  • Equipment rental fees for specific projects or activities related to your trade or profession
  • Travel-related expenses (airfare, car rental fees, hotel stays) related to attending conferences or job interviews related to your consulting work.

Always consult an accountant regarding the specific qualifications for deductibility of any particular expense before making any filing decisions at tax-time when claiming consulting-related deductions on your taxes.

Reporting and Documenting Consulting Expenses

Reporting your consulting expenses accurately and timely is essential in order to remain compliant with federal and state laws. Generally, a company must keep copies of all invoices, receipts, canceled checks and other documents related to paid services. Depending on the specific services provided by the consultant, some of expenses may be deductible for tax purposes.

The following information should be documented for each consulting expense:

  • Invoice number
  • Consultant name
  • Amount paid
  • Type/description of services provided
  • Date service was rendered/rendered payment
  • Any applicable taxes paid

It is also important to record any business travel expenses incurred as part of the consultant’s activities such as airfare, lodging, meals and transport fees. This includes itemizing amounts for both the cost of renting or leasing property (i.e., for use in a project) as well as utilities and supplies purchased by the consultant on behalf of your organization. Any information related to these costs should be recorded within your accounting system to ensure proper compliance with federal regulations.

Best Practices for Accounting for Consulting Expenses

Consulting expenses are important to pay attention to in both the short and long term. It’s important to have the best practices in place for proper accounting of consulting fees and expenses, so that you are in compliance with regulations, laws and other applicable rules. Here is an overview of some of the best practices for accounting for consulting expenses.

  1. Make sure you have an approved budget: This ensures that there are sufficient funds available to pay consultants who will be hired during the fiscal year and eliminates the need to solicit additional funds.
  2. Record all vendor invoices: This allows you to properly track all related expenses associated with one consultant or project in order to maintain accurate financial records. Accurate recording helps prevent costly errors related to double billing, inaccurate payments or unauthorized charges.
  3. Know how vendor invoices should be allocated: Accurately assigning costs between applications and departments is essential when creating valid bookkeeping entries and calculating correct payment amounts for services rendered. This can help ensure that errors are avoided during critical financial analysis or tax calculations, as well as detect potential fraud where necessary.
  4. Process payments timely: Staying on top of consultant payments helps maintain positive relationships with vendors by ensuring prompt payment upon completion of services rendered or agreed-upon milestones achieved. It’s also crucial for accurately tracking project budgets throughout their life cycles, so that cost overruns can be identified at an early stage before becoming too costly or unmanageable.
  5. Track adjustments carefully: When adjustments do arise due to pricing changes, invoice inaccuracies or additional services performed, it’s important that proper documentation is kept detailing why such adjustments were made and also recorded on any accounts payable ledgers during closure activities, otherwise they could pose a risk in future years when preparing taxes or auditing processes occur.


Accounting for consulting expenses in your business can seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, the process doesn’t have to be complicated. By recording all relevant details on each expense, keeping accurate records of all payments, and differentiating between miscellaneous and employee-related expenses, you will ensure that all consultation fees are tracked properly so you can accurately report them on your tax forms.

Additionally, staying up-to-date with current rules and regulations related to consulting services will save you time and potential headaches as you complete your tax returns each year. Utilizing these steps when handling consulting fees will help make calculating taxes an efficient and effective process for your business.

Here are the steps to take when accounting for consulting expenses:

  • Record all relevant details on each expense.
  • Keep accurate records of all payments.
  • Differentiate between miscellaneous and employee-related expenses.
  • Stay up-to-date with current rules and regulations related to consulting services.