What to Do If Your Consulting Fee Is an Account Item


Are you a consultant looking for help understanding what to do if your consulting fee is an account item? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll cover the ins and outs of handling client accounts and explain how to make sure you get paid in full. From developing a non-refundable retainer policy to strategizing different payment methods, we have all the answers you were looking for. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of client accounts!

We’ll cover the following topics:

  • Developing a non-refundable retainer policy
  • Strategizing different payment methods
  • Making sure you get paid in full


As a consultant, you are faced with the challenge of negotiating fees, submitting invoices, collecting payments and ensuring a positive working relationship with your client. This article will outline what to do if your consulting fee is an account item – that is, if the client has agreed to pay you on an invoice-by-invoice basis and not through fixed retainer fees. We’ll cover some tips for how you can protect yourself when this arrangement is in place and how to position yourself for future negotiations and potential disputes.

Most importantly, it’s essential to have a written contract in place which outlines responsibilities for both parties when dealing with any kind or size of project. The language and legal implications of the contract should be reviewed by qualified legal counsel before signing and implementation of the agreement proceeds. Finally, it’s important to obtain a signed copy from all parties in order to provide evidence of the agreement in case it becomes necessary in court, should a dispute arise later.

Understanding the Difference Between a Consulting Fee and an Account Item

When you are offered a consulting job, it is important to understand the difference between a consulting fee and an account item. A consulting fee is a fixed payment that is due in full upon termination of the agreement. An account item, on the other hand, is typically an ongoing payment that may include project milestones and the completion of each task.

It’s important to ascertain in advance which type of agreement you have with your client.

If Your Consulting Fee Is an Account Item

If you have been offered a consulting job with a fee structured as an account item (i.e., payable upon completion of each task or project milestone), it’s important to make sure you understand all details of your agreement clearly before beginning work. Take time to review all related documents closely, such as any references or contracts from contributors or sub-contractors who are assisting with the project. Make sure to be clear about what tasks must be completed for fulfilment of the account item and any deadlines associated with those tasks. Have all parties sign off on any agreed terms before starting work on the project – this will help ensure organized execution of business operations from start to finish, as well as compliance to any regulations related to accounting activity within certain sectors or industries.

You should also keep accurate records for tax purposes at all times in order to help reduce discrepancies during processing; consult with a qualified accountant if necessary for assistance in understanding tax regulations related to business transactions which could affect your tax obligation amount at the time of filing if needed. Finally, should legal action be threatened related to failure by either party involved, it may benefit both parties if screenshots or records can be used as evidence showing when specific tasks were completed or payments made according to assigned dates therein; always err on the side of caution and document whenever possible every step taken throughout your business venture together – affording better protection should legal action take place down the line after satisfying obligations required by both parties within assigned terms established at time of Agreement signing between both parties (accordingly).

What to Do if Your Consulting Fee is an Account Item

If your consulting fee is an account item, there are several steps you can take to ensure payment is received in a timely manner. It’s important to understand the use of accounts that charge for expense reimbursement, as these can make paying business expenses more difficult than usual.

  • First, you should contact the account holder and explain why your consulting fee needs to be paid. Depending on the client’s understanding and business practice, they may arrange to suspend work or arrange to make payments in several smaller increments. They may also decide that it’s best to just pay the fees in full immediately.
  • When negotiating payment terms with the account holder, know your rights as you will likely have a right of set-off which allows payments that have been withheld by an employer due to contractual obligations or natural obligations such as collecting monies owed. This is especially true if you agreed upon a rate prior to commencing work on a project but were then paid at a lower rate once finished. Additionally, the account holder should not be able to pressure any kind of performance or disclose confidential information in order for them to receive their fee or any form of compensation from you; this would be considered unethical and possibly illegal depending on factors such as type of business practice being conducted or regulatory laws governing them. Be sure that all parties involved are aware of any applicable laws when negotiating payment terms for consulting fees.
  • When collecting money for services rendered, consult with financial advisors familiar with accounts receivable collections practices and processes before proceeding in order to ensure best practices are met and all rights are fairly enforced during financial disputes with accounts holders seeking late payments on agreed upon services rendered by consultants.

Ways to Negotiate a Consulting Fee

The terms surrounding a consulting fee vary from company to company. Some may require you to obtain an account in order to receive your payment, while others may have other arrangements in place. Regardless of the payment plan that is agreed upon, negotiate your terms as part of an agreement so that both parties are aware of how the payment will be made. Here are some suggested strategies for negotiating a consulting fee:

  • Geographical venue: If you are working remotely or for a far away client, consider a percentage-based fee that takes into account any additional travel costs incurred from taking the assignment. This way, you will be compensated for your out-of-pocket expenses during the course of your project.
  • Billing frequency: Negotiate for different options such as weekly or monthly billing cycles that allow you to collect payments on time versus making too large periodic payments which could take longer to clear.
  • Payment method: When putting together terms of service with clients it’s important to consider and agree upon what type of convenient payment method can be used such as direct deposit or wire transfers, versus older methods such as checks which can take time to process and receive funds. Doing this ensures faster delivery and less confusion over when or where funds have been received, especially if the client is located overseas.
  • Retainers and advances: In cases wherein the project requires greater investment upfront through research and development during initial stages, it’s important that teams discuss retainers and advances so that one can ensure effective collaboration between both parties throughout a project’s life cycle. Agreed advance payments allows one party’s financial commitment towards a project assures successful completion by front loading valuable resources prior even before beginning work on it.

Keeping Track of Your Consulting Fees

One responsibility for those working in a consulting capacity is keeping track of their fees. This is an important part of accounting for expenses and making sure that you are paid for the work you do. Here are some steps to help ensure that your consulting fees are logged properly:

  1. Request an itemized statement from your client, especially if the fee is an account item.
  2. Ask your client to include a summary of hours worked and services provided when sending remittance for accounts receivable items.
  3. Keep a copy of all invoices sent out to clients as well as all related correspondence associated with each invoice; this includes emails, files, notes, etc., related to the project and its payment.
  4. Make sure that timesheets accurately reflect any time spent outside the scope of any project(s), specifying them as “overhead charges.”
  5. Keep documents filed together in one place with time frames clearly marked on each invoice/timesheets.
  6. Scan or photograph copies of checks or electronic payments (online) made by clients in order to create a digital bank statement history in case verification is needed down the road.
  7. Maintain all paper documents in physical, alphabetized files – these can include ledgers detailing earned fees versus total cost of materials/expenses associated with each job.

Understanding Tax Implications

Before determining the tax implications of billing your consulting fee as an account item, it is important to understand the distinction between services and goods. Basic services, such as advice or consulting, are considered personal services and are taxed according to the rules governing self-employment income. While tangible goods are exempt from some forms of business tax, any service will be subject to self-employment taxes.

When billing a client for a consulting fee through an account item, you must include those fees when calculating self-employment income and Social Security taxes. This is true if you bill in one lump sum or if you break the fee into several payments over an extended period of time. In some cases, when dealing with larger sums living over a longer period of time – estimates may need to be made so that sufficient amounts are reported on quarterly estimated tax return filing deadlines.

In addition to actual fees paid for services rendered, non-cash contributions such as airline miles or other types of rewards may need to be included in taxable income based on their fair market value at the time they were given away by the client – even if no actual cash was exchanged. It is important to have a good understanding of both federal and state taxation regulations when dealing with consulting fees billed as Account Item.

Potential Legal Issues

Businesses paying consulting fees must be aware of potential legal issues in order to protect both parties involved. Before entering into agreements, make sure you understand state and local regulations regarding use of consultants. In addition, have your lawyer review contracts and prepare any necessary documents to protect your business from potential liability.

Assuming the legality of the arrangement is established, there are a few key steps both consultant and client must follow for it to remain legally sound:

  • Clearly spell out any services provided in the contract along with payment terms and dates.
  • Include clauses that hold both parties liable in cases of mismanagement or breach of contract; this helps protect against scenarios like unpaid invoices.
  • The consultant should keep all their records organized regarding billing information and deadlines, while clients should pay attention to deadlines agreed upon between parties and consult their lawyer if they have any questions or concerns about fees or arrangements.
  • All parties should understand that consulting fees are not deductible expenses until paid (assuming they meet all necessary IRS criteria); this will allow clients to plan their finances accordingly and ensure consultants get paid promptly for services performed.


In conclusion, the best way to handle being paid a consulting fee as an account item is to be proactive. Make sure that you have a contract in place with a detailed scope of work and payment information. If the fee is still not paid, then it’s important to make sure your client knows exactly what you are owed and to take action accordingly.

You may need to send additional invoices and pursue legal action depending on individual circumstances. In any case, it’s important to take action early if you do not receive payments as agreed upon so that you can keep your business’ finances running smoothly without interruption.