Within the accounting profession, Client Accounting Services (CAS) has emerged as a pivotal offering for entrepreneurial CPAs wishing to help their clients with more than just annual tax filings. In this comprehensive guide from Harness Tax, we unravel the beginnings and intricacies of CAS, its various components, the transformative role of technology in this emerging field of accounting, and how CAS stands apart from other accounting services such as Accounting Advisory Services.

Table of Contents

  1. What are Client Accounting Services (CAS)?
  2. What are the Core Components of CAS?
  3. The Role of Technology in CAS
  4. Benefits and Drawbacks of CAS
  5. How Harness Wealth Fits into CAS

Key Takeaways

What are Client Accounting Services (CAS)?

Client Accounting Services are a comprehensive set of offerings provided by accounting firms to assist both individual and business clients in both compliance matters and day-to-day financial management. Unlike Accounting Advisory Services, which are more geared toward longer strategic planning, Client Accounting Services focus on the operational aspects of financial management, ranging from basic bookkeeping tasks to advanced reporting and comprehensive tax planning.

For example, a startup founder who has recently expanded their business may find it challenging to manage growing payroll needs. A CAS provider could step in to not only offer payroll services, but also work closely with them to fully accommodate any related needs, such as state and federal business taxes, and bookkeeping for their growing team.

The main idea of Client Accounting Services, also known as CAS or CAAS, is that accountants and accounting firms can leverage technology to see and manage their client’s financial data in real-time, enabling modern CPAs to offer more comprehensive and year-round support than just annual filings alone.

What are the Core Components of CAS?

There are a number of services that can collectively be defined as CAS, though generally speaking, CAS can be thought of as any tax-related service that is more operational–as opposed to strategic–in nature, and one that requires year-round support.

Below are some common examples of CAS:


Among the many facets of CAS, bookkeeping is perhaps the most well-recognized. The mission of CAS is to help you as a CPA become more in tune with your client’s finances throughout the year, which can in turn help ease the annual tax filing process. By offering bookkeeping services, you’ll not only gain a real-time understanding of your client’s tax needs, but you’ll also have the opportunity to form more meaningful connections with your client. Bookkeeping can be a tedious process, and many CPAs may choose to expand their team or work with outsourced providers before offering such services, so think carefully about whether you and your team are prepared to offer bookkeeping to your clients.

Financial Reporting

Financial reporting within CAS is not just about creating balance sheets or income statements. It involves preparing customized reporting that caters to the specific needs of a client, highlighting KPIs and other metrics that are crucial for their decision-making.

Payroll Management

Payroll management in the context of CAS involves not just disbursing wages, but also optimizing tax withholdings, managing benefits, and ensuring compliance with labor laws. Payroll management is of course a service that would only apply to business owners, though with many entrepreneurial employees in today’s remote work environment, more than ever have small businesses of their own that could benefit from CAS as it relates to payroll, owners draws, or general business taxation.

Tax Planning and Compliance

With any of the above components, tax planning and compliance will be a major area of need, particularly for newer businesses. By working with your clients not only on the transactional components of tax compliance, but also on education and coaching, you can help them pursue constant improvement in how they manage their revenue streams.

Advisory Services

It’s important to understand the distinct differences between Client Accounting Services and Accounting Advisory Services, the latter of which focuses more on strategic planning beyond the recurring operational tax needs of CAS. That said, CAS can contain elements of advisory services of its own, or can easily lead to more advisory-style tax planning, though it is not the core focus.

The Role of Technology in CAS

CAS and technology go hand-in-hand, as the concept of Client Accounting Services was introduced around the time that cloud computing started to go mainstream. The idea was that, if accountants could use the internet to gather their client’s data in real-time, they would be able to deliver far more value to their clients throughout the course of a year. As technology evolves, and AI and other advancements start to become more common within the accounting industry, here are some potential ways in which CAS may see future improvement:

Benefits and Drawbacks of CAS

When considering offering Client Accounting Services (CAS) as part of your accounting firm, it’s essential to weigh the advantages against potential challenges. Here’s a more detailed look:

Benefits of CAS for CPAs:

Above all, CAS and CAAS can help you generate more annual recurring revenue for your tax firm. With CAS, you can charge monthly retainers for bookkeeping, payroll management, financial reporting, and other needs. By spreading out your work throughout the year instead of condensing it all into the annual filing season, you’ll lay the foundation for building better client relationships, and a better work-life balance for you and your team.

Drawbacks of CAS for CPAs:

Introducing any new tax service offering requires careful consideration, ensuring you have the available, resources, team members, and clients necessary to make your efforts worthwhile. If most of your current clients are only in need of annual filings, it might not be the right time to introduce a CAS or CAAS offering.

Additionally, onboarding new clients to CAS and ensuring that your clients will provide you with the data that you need access to is an important process that should not be overlooked.

How Harness Wealth Fits into CAS

Harness Tax is a comprehensive software solution designed to help you run a more modern tax practice and build better client relationships. From integrations with best-in-class platforms, a nationwide community of accounting professionals to learn from, and administrative support to keep your business moving, here’s how Harness Tax can help as you work to introduce CAS or other new services to your accounting clients:

At Harness Tax, we work with independent CPAs and growing accounting firms to help them deliver more value to their clients, and run more modern, efficient tax practices. If you’re interested in learning more about how Harness can help you navigate the changes of introducing a new service offering, book a complimentary, introductory call with our team today.