Potential clients may have different expectations for working with an accounting or payroll service. That's why we've broken down the question "What’s it like to work with CSI Accounting & Payroll?" into specific topics that cover the most important aspects of our services.
Here, we’ll cover topics regarding who we are, what we do, what makes us different, the benefits that come with working with us, what coming on board with us looks like, and what our fees are. By doing so, we can help you make an informed decision about working with CSI Accounting & Payroll – or even a different solution.
Here’s what working with CSI looks like:
Chapter 1: Who Is CSI?
At CSI Accounting & Payroll, we understand that financial management can be overwhelming for businesses of any size. That's why we offer a range of services to help you stay current and compliant.
Whether you need help catching up on records, organizing your books, or minimizing your tax liability, we are here to support you every step of the way.
We are a trusted service with over 60 years of experience providing customized solutions to thousands of small business clients.
Our journey began in the early 1960s when Al Clausnitzer founded CSI Accounting & Payroll to provide bookkeeping, consulting, and tax services for small businesses.
Today, under the ownership of Brian Paulson, we have grown in size and expanded our services to include payroll, recognizing the close relationship between accounting and payroll.
Our company values transparency, confidence, and growth. We believe in open communication, so you always know what we're doing and how we can help you. Our accurate work and monthly meetings help you make confident business decisions, freeing up your time to focus on growing your business.
Chapter 2: Who Does CSI Serve?
We acknowledge that our services are not the best solution for every business, much like how not every business is an ideal client for us. You’re a good fit to work with CSI if:
- You are a small or medium-sized business
- You are located in the United States
- You are financially stable
- You value your business’s profitability and growth
- You want to outsource and receive monthly financial statements and advice
- You value great communication, accuracy, and timeliness
- You see the value in year-round tax strategy
Some factors may be up for discussion about whether you are a good fit to work with CSI or not.
We can assist with certain trouble areas, such as audits or falling behind on bookkeeping and taxes, and we offer more value to businesses that are not startups, although the “startup” timespan varies by industry. We don't rule you out if you're interested in our services; we just investigate your business's situation more closely to make sure you get the right value out of a service like ours.
Chapter 3: What Services Does CSI Offer?
When you’re passionate about your small business, you care about its profitability and growth. If your current business services are either unaffordable or aren’t meeting your needs in some way, then it’s time to start looking for an alternative.
You're here for a reason; not all professional services are made equal.
CSI Accounting & Payroll is truly the small business owner's one-stop shop. Our clients love us for the time we save them, our customer service and responsiveness, our upfront quotes for fixed pricing, and our ongoing efforts to inform them of current events that may affect their businesses.
Let’s cover the services we offer!
- Accounting (including bookkeeping, monthly accounting, advice, and tax services)
- Payroll (an assigned specialist providing a complete payroll service including electronic employee payments, tax payments, and tax filings)
- Various other add-on (not standalone) services, such as consulting, ERC services, small business HR packages, timekeeping, employee retirement plans, and workers’ compensation insurance
Check out this web page to learn more about our services.
Chapter 4: What Makes CSI Different?
CSI is different from other firms in that it’s more of a one-stop shop for small business financial needs. We’ll touch on what monthly accounting consists of (as a multi-faceted accounting solution) in chapter 6, but CSI’s service offerings reduce the need to bridge communication with other providers.
We’ve also been in business for much longer than other accounting and payroll solutions, which we hope reflects highly of our satisfied clients and steadily growing client base. We don’t stretch our service side as thin as other providers, either - our team grows at a rate that doesn’t compromise on the quality or quantity of work we put out.
By limiting our client base to only the best fit to work with us, we can offer a more efficient service while minimizing fees. Many accountants will accept any client - even for just personal taxes - but we focus on small business owners to avoid getting bogged down with other projects.
When you want a financial service that’s a step up from the basics, you also want proper communication. While we offer an add-on consulting service for large projects, unlimited one-off questions and communication is included for free in our standard monthly accounting service. Our payroll specialists are always available to answer questions, as well!
Chapter 5: Why Should I Add Payroll With CSI?
Outsourcing your payroll is a great alternative to managing it in-house. While payroll software provides the necessary features to comply with payroll regulations, it lacks the intuition and expertise that only a trained payroll specialist can provide.
However, if you're already outsourcing your payroll, there are many pros of outsourcing with a local firm instead of a national provider.
There are also many benefits to bundling accounting and payroll services under one provider. Communication issues can arise when you have to pass information back and forth, and you can't afford to waste time on resolving communication issues.
With CSI, you don't need to form several surface-level relationships with customer service representatives; you can have one dedicated payroll specialist and one dedicated accountant who work under the same roof. This can save you time and money while ensuring your financial needs are handled.
Chapter 6: What Is Monthly Accounting?
Bookkeeping and annual tax filing are the bare minimum when it comes to accounting. If you’re looking for a service that allows you to make more informed decisions year-round and focus on growing your business, monthly accounting might be the right solution for your business.
Monthly accounting consists of monthly reporting and bank reconciliation, expert financial help, and year-round tax planning and preparation.
Having an accountant in your books monthly allows you to track your financial performance and identify any fluctuations in your cash flow throughout the year. This is achieved through the creation of a monthly paper trail, including balance sheets, income statements, and profit and loss statements.
Reconciling bank accounts each month is also crucial, as failure to do so can lead to a range of risks, including cash misappropriation, accounting errors, inaccurate financial and tax reporting, loss of deposited funds, and penalties associated with NSF checks or overdrafts.
Perhaps the biggest selling point to monthly accounting as a financial solution is the variety of advice it allows. You’ll benefit from ongoing support and advice from your dedicated accountant throughout the year, not just at tax time.
When tax season does roll around, monthly accountants are ready to inform you of changes in tax laws and other external factors that may impact you. However, there’s been plenty of communication leading up to tax season, too!
Monthly accounting allows for tax strategy that goes way beyond what an annual tax accountant can offer. Proper tax strategy consists of tax planning, projections, preparation - and, of course, filing.
Not to mention, audit support is a major perk that not many other services offer. However, with monthly accounting, the audit trail is in place and gives a lot of confidence to the process. Peace of mind should be a major factor in selecting an accounting service!
Chapter 7: Will I Still Have to Do Annual Taxes if I Use Monthly Accounting With CSI?
No! If you work with a monthly accounting service, then the full tax strategy, meetings, and fee to file your business’s annual taxes are all included. There is no need to use an additional service to get your taxes done each year.
If you are a small business owner who is also a monthly accounting client, you may choose to file your personal taxes with CSI as well.
Small business owners who have worked with an annual tax accountant are used to setting aside a chunk of change for the cost to file their taxes. However, many find it convenient to pay a set monthly accounting fee that covers the filing fee instead - plus, there’s also an attempt to minimize their tax liability with monthly accounting.
If you work with CSI, can you keep working with your annual tax accountant? Yes, but we don’t recommend this option. Continuing to work with your annual tax accountant won’t save you any money and risks bringing up consequences of splitting a service between different providers.
Chapter 8: What Software Does CSI Use?
For payroll, we use iSolved People Cloud.
For accounting, if you’re interested in working with CSI, it doesn’t matter which accounting software you’ve been using up until now. We use both QuickBooks Online and Xero, and we’re happy to help you switch to either.
However, if you choose to switch to Xero, there’s one more perk - we cover the software’s subscription fee for you! There are three reasons for this:
- It is a cheaper subscription than QuickBooks.
- It is the tool we use to produce financials.
- It also allows you to see your financial information.
Otherwise, if you want to use QuickBooks Online, that’s totally fine - but the responsibility of paying the subscription fee will fall onto your shoulders.
Chapter 9: How Does CSI’s Audit Representation Work?
We briefly mentioned that a major selling point of monthly accounting is the audit trail it provides - which means that monthly accountants are able to uniquely support their clients in the case of an audit!
When you work with CSI Accounting & Payroll, we’re so confident in our work that we offer agent-level support for income tax audits at no extra cost to you! Audits are no fun for business owners and, even in a best-case scenario, can just take up a lot of your time.
Don’t let the term “agent-level support” get you down - nearly all of the time, agent-level support is all that’s needed. It means that we deal with the IRS agent directly in the case of income tax audits, and we will get power of attorney to appeal if we feel that they incorrectly made a determination.
If you want to work with CSI but are currently going through an audit, we can still help you if you want to come on board! Since the audit would not be a result of any work that we performed for you, we would charge an additional fee for our audit support.
Chapter 10: What Advice Is Included in CSI’s Monthly Accounting?
This is a massive topic because the advice portion of monthly accounting is where you’ll likely find the most value. Whether it’s addressing the past, present, or future, there are a variety of advice topics that are uniquely offered by monthly accounting.
Remember, even though meetings with a monthly accountant cover a bunch of advice topics, you’re also encouraged to reach out for answers to any one-off questions that may come up for you at any time! This is included in your monthly fee unless it’s deemed part of a large consulting project.
Getting into the specifics, monthly accountants can offer advice directly based on the financial statements they generate each month, tax strategy advice, and other topics surrounding:
- Settings KPIs
- Maximizing profitability
- Industry-specific advice
- Sales and marketing ideas
Chapter 11: How Do I Switch to CSI?
If you’re considering switching payroll or accounting providers, it’s always the right time - and CSI Accounting & Payroll is always accepting new clients!
Switching Accounting Solutions
On the accounting side, CSI can help you get started with us whether you’re starting with in-house bookkeeping or if you’re switching from a different outsourced accounting service.
We’ll go through the steps to determine if monthly accounting is the right form of accounting for you right now, what you should look for in an accountant, and how to plan ahead for the transition if you’re coming on board with us. Our goal is to make this as easy as possible for you!
Switching Payroll Solutions
The payroll side is a bit simpler. We’ll guide you through the steps that may look like these:
- Third-party or agent access to state taxing authorities
- EFTPS enrollment
- Bank information
- Other necessary information that may be encrypted by software
- Details on your desired payroll
Afterward, we’ll ensure your payroll data is transferred to our system correctly and that our system uses the data to create reports correctly. These are the steps we follow:
- Obtain online access to your current system
- Transfer your data into their system, then run in parallel
- Compare Forms 941
- Automatically transfer sensitive information
Chapter 12: What if I’m Behind on Bookkeeping or Taxes When I Start With CSI?
If your books aren’t completely up to date when you come on board with CSI, we need to catch you up. Don’t worry - we won’t judge. We have had clients with as many as 10 years of back taxes to file before.
Read about why back work is necessary, what the benefits are, and what it may cost you here.
When you work with CSI, we can even help you file multiple years of back work, or back taxes, all at once. For smaller projects, our goal is to get back taxes done in two to three months, whereas we’ve never had a large project take us more than six months.
Much of this depends on how quickly you provide us with the information we need to move forward. In the meantime, we can start some of your current accounting, but we can’t produce any financial statements until the back taxes are filed.
Chapter 13: What Is Onboarding Like With CSI?
Once you sign your proposal with CSI for accounting or payroll services, you’re going to be eager to get started! What happens next?
On the payroll side, you’re going to be walked through these fairly short steps over a period of about three weeks:
- Welcome to CSI Accounting & Payroll
- Payroll Setup Meeting
- Payroll System Setup
- Payroll Software Demonstration
7/5/2023 Notice: We are currently improving our accounting onboarding process, so the information noted here may change.
For accounting, you’re going to go through some similar introductions to CSI as you would on the payroll side, and then you’ll enter into a short series of onboarding meetings called Initial Strategy Sessions (ISS). The timeline can vary a lot depending on any back work required, but it’s typically a 90-day process.
Once you’re onboarded, you’ll meet with your accountant monthly, but you’ll meet with them approximately weekly during this time. So, what do these ISS meetings look like?
Generally, there are three sessions, but there may be subsequent sessions for unique situations or larger operations.
The first session is about fact-finding to get a deeper understanding of your situation and answer some burning questions. The second session offers accounting education so you can properly do things like document income and expenses, pay bills, and handle reimbursements. The third session is aimed at reviewing a financial statement and learning what it says.
We also work on gaining access to any business accounts needed so we can pull your numbers each month. The information we need varies greatly by different businesses, but examples can include:
- Copies of your bank statements for that prior month
- Copies of your credit card statements for that prior month
- Your sales reports for that prior month
- A journal of the assets you purchased in that prior month
Chapter 14: What Are Monthly Meetings Like With CSI?
The regular monthly meetings are quite different from onboarding meetings. Once you get through onboarding, we shift into Monthly Meaningful Client Contact (M2C2) meetings.
Approximately once per month, for about 30 minutes, we meet with clients with a fairly loose agenda. Often, these meetings will consist of your advice based on monthly financial statements, a recap of your current situation, and answers to any questions you may have.
You never have to wonder if your accountant has time to squeeze you in because you schedule your next meeting at the end of every meeting. You’ll always know when you should see your accountant next. Of course, you can also always reach out with one-off questions between meetings for free!
Chapter 15: What Are CSI’s Tax Planning Meetings Like?
Remember, monthly accounting allows for proper tax strategy, consisting of tax planning, projections, preparation, and filing. As a small business, minimizing your tax liability is critical.
Tax planning meetings are often part of your M2C2 monthly meetings, but they can also be separate if you want or need extra help!
There are typically only two meetings needed per year - one in the Spring to review the past tax season and one in the Fall to anticipate the upcoming tax season.
You can expect these tax planning meetings to be similar to your regular M2C2 monthly meetings in that they don’t have an entirely set agenda. However, we want to make sure we discuss topics like:
- What your next tax season might look like
- Various tax strategies to legally minimize what you owe
- The best method to pay your government tax bill
You also leave with a tax projection, meaning an estimate - backed by your accounting - of what you might owe in taxes. This will help you plan your finances in advance if you’re looking at a large tax bill from the government.
Chapter 16: What Should I Know About Fees at CSI?
Any amounts listed here may be outdated; please consult your proposal for actual pricing customized to your business’s situation. This is a brief description of some of the fees that you may expect to encounter.
Click this link to learn more about what monthly accounting fees look like. Of course, this will vary quite a bit depending on the complexity of your business’s accounting and how much financial activity you have.
Click this link to learn more about what payroll service fees look like, but be aware that pricing can vary a lot depending on the features you’re looking for and the frequency you want to run payroll at. A basic payroll package includes:
- Payroll check processing
- Direct deposit
- Electronic payroll tax payments
- Federal (941) & State withholding tax returns
- Federal (940) & State unemployment tax returns
- Workers' compensation audit reports
- Payroll tax audit representation
- Personal portal logins for your employees
- Employer portal login for your admin account
- Standard report package
- Cash requirement report
- Payroll journal report
- Check register report
There are also many circumstances that might lead to these additional accounting and payroll fees.
Still Have Questions About What It’s Like to Work With CSI?
We covered a lot of aspects of what it might look like if you work with us. From who we work with to what our fees are, a whole spectrum of topics were touched on here on this page. For more information:
1. Check out the links throughout this page that expand on the chapters.
2. Explore our Learning Center and the rest of our website.
3. Schedule a consultation with one of our experts to examine your unique tax situation.