Bench Accounting vs Merritt Bookkeeping: Comparison 2023

The best accounting service for you is the one that fits your budget, allows you to be as involved as you want, and meets your communication expectations. To compare Bench vs. Merritt Bookkeeping, consider the needs of your business. Bench provides a broader range of services beyond bookkeeping, while Merritt Bookkeeping offers a flat rate for basic bookkeeping services, no matter the size of your business.

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Who should use each

  • Companies behind in their accounting: If your business is more than two years behind, Bench can bring it up to date and generate cash financial statements for tax returns. We selected Bench as the best online accounting service for businesses that are behind on their accounting.
  • Companies that need unlimited support: Bench’s goal is to make bookkeeping as easy as possible by providing guidance and answering your questions. Your accounting team is available for direct and unlimited communication.
  • Small business owners who want tax advice and preparation: Because Bench offers a one-stop-shop for accounting services, you can combine tax services with monthly bookkeeping services. If you sign up for the Premium plan, an annual business tax return is included.

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To learn more about the features on offer, check out our in-depth Bench Accounting review.

  • Self-Employed, 1,099 Employees and Independent Contractors: If all you need is basic income and expense tracking for tax purposes, Merritt is the cheapest online bookkeeper we’ve found.
  • Small businesses that prefer a hands-off approach to their accounting: Merritt doesn’t give you access to your QuickBooks account, so you can’t use it for billing or invoice tracking. If you don’t anticipate the need for this or have other methods of tracking your accounts receivable (A/R) and accounts payable (A/P), then Merritt could be a good solution for you.
  • Small businesses working with independent contractors: Although Merritt does not handle the filing of personal or business tax returns, it will process its contractors’ 1099 forms for a fee of $75 plus an additional $8 per return. Unlimited email support is also included.

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Read our Merritt Bookkeeping review to find more to like about the platform.

Read our guide to the best online bookkeeping services to learn about other services that might be a better fit for your business needs.

Who should use an alternative

  • QuickBooks Online users: Although Merritt Bookkeeping prepares your books using a QuickBooks Online account, you cannot access it directly. Therefore, if you need to issue invoices and keep track of unpaid invoices, you will need to use separate software. QuickBooks Live is the best solution for QuickBooks Online users, with many useful features that will streamline the process.
  • Companies planning to scale or need to switch providers: If you have a standard plan with Bench, you’re limited to the number of financial accounts you can connect to your books. It also works with proprietary software that doesn’t sync with accounting programs like QuickBooks Online. Consider Pilot if you’re looking for a solution that will scale quickly.
  • Companies that need financial planning and advice: Neither Bench nor Merritt Bookkeeping offer financial planning services such as investment and business expansion. If you’re looking for an all-in-one bookkeeping provider that offers financial planning and advice, give Bookkeeper360 a try.

Are you looking for more information on the best platforms to manage your accounting? Check out our recommendations for the best accounting software for small businesses.

Bench vs. Merritt Accounting: Pricing

Both Bench plans include monthly bookkeeping and year-end reports, but the higher tier offers more features like unlimited federal and state tax filings and tax advisory services. Bench even has several plugins, such as Billing (A/R) and Bill Payment (A/P), that are available with their specialized accounting package, which starts at $100 per month.

Meanwhile, Merritt Bookkeeping’s pricing is very straightforward: a flat rate of $190 per month, regardless of the size of your business and the number of transactions, accounts, monthly expenses and employees. You can also opt for their ledger update services, which range from $70 to $140 per month, depending on the number of transactions that need to be entered.

So if you want to select from a larger menu of services with the ability to add features as needed, choose Bench. But if you’re looking for a simple service with basic bookkeeping, Merritt Bookkeeping is the best solution.

Bench vs. Merritt Accounting: Features

Bench offers several services in addition to basic bookkeeping, including tax preparation and filing. By contrast, Merritt Bookkeeping only offers basic bookkeeping, with no ability to customize any additional services. However, if you want to save money, it’s the best option, especially since it costs the same regardless of your number of employees and monthly transactions.

Bench’s full menu of services includes specialized bookkeeping and tax support. Meanwhile, Merritt Bookkeeping is a good option if you want to be more independent with your bookkeeping. Your bookkeeper will set up your accounts for you and take care of categorizing your transactions. You can access your file through the client portal, which is also how you’ll interact with your bookkeeper, who will send you basic financial reports on a monthly basis.

Bench vs. Merritt Accounting: Ease of Use

Bench’s proprietary software lets you track income and expenses, and you’ll find it’s intuitive and easy to use. Both you and your bookkeeper can leave notes on transactions, ultimately saving time. Bench’s historical accounting services allow you to get through months or years of mismanaged books and recover lost documents to get you back on track. This can be beneficial if you need supporting documents to apply for loans.

Once you enroll in Bench, you’ll be assigned a team of three dedicated bookkeepers, one of whom will be your account manager. They’ll learn more about your business and help you customize your account to ensure accurate expense tracking. They will also help you connect your bank and business accounts so that read-only data is automatically imported into your Bench account.

You’ll receive monthly financial statements from your bookkeeper, plus an end-of-year financial packet. This includes all the information needed for your accountant to file your tax return.

Onboarding process with Bench.

Onboarding process with Bench
(Source: Accounting Bank)

While Merritt Bookkeeping is run by a small team in San Diego, it outsources the actual bookkeeping to various offshore contractors. The San Diego team serves as the point of contact, providing quality control and answering any questions that may arise. You may also contact your assigned bookkeeper by email or phone during regular business hours.

Once you sign up, a clerk will help you set up your bank and business accounts. You’ll be assigned your own dedicated bookkeeper who will manage your finances with QuickBooks Online, which will import read-only versions of your bank statements using LedgerSync, free third-party software. If you do not have a QuickBooks file, Merritt Bookkeeping will create one for you, but you will not have personal access to your file.

Your bookkeeper will categorize your transactions by chart of accounts, reconcile your QuickBooks file with bank statements, and send you PDF reports of your financial data on a monthly basis. After setting, the contact will be limited. You’ll receive a link to your dashboard each month that gives you access to your financial reports, transaction details, and support center links. If you find inaccuracies, write them down on the sheet and they will be updated.

Example of Merritt Bookkeeping's review checklist.

Sample Review Checklist from Merritt Bookkeeping
(Source: Merritt Accounting)

Bench vs. Merritt Accounting: Integrations

  • Bank integrations: Gusto, FreshBooks, Stripe, Square, Shopify, Attune, Keap, Brex, and Clio

Bench vs. Merritt Accounting: Mobile App

Available for iOS, the Bench mobile app even allows you to streamline communication with your dedicated bookkeeper and upload invoices or receipts. You can also access reports, view real-time account and cash flow updates, check your expense categories, upload documents, and schedule appointments. Merritt Bookkeeping does not currently offer a mobile app.

Accounting Bench vs Merritt: Customer Service

Both Bench and Merritt Bookkeeping assign you to a dedicated bookkeeper upon enrollment. Merritt Bookkeeping subcontracts the work to foreign contractors, while Bench uses its own employees. Therefore, if you want a broader level of contact, Bench is a good option. But if you want limited ownership and handover management of your books to a bookkeeper, consider Merritt Bookkeeping.

However, while both allow you to communicate through a customer portal, neither allows direct access to your file. To access your financial information, you must log into your account on the Bench website. You can also contact your bookkeeper via the mobile app, email, and direct message on the Bench website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you file a 1099 with Merritt Bookkeeping?

Yes, Merritt Bookkeeping allows you to file a 1099.

Will Bench prepare my taxes?

Yes, Bench will prepare and file your taxes for you as part of the Premium plan.

How much does Merritt Accounting cost?

Merritt Bookkeeping charges a flat fee of $190 per month for basic bookkeeping services.

Bottom line

If you want to save money and are looking for basic bookkeeping services at an affordable price, Merritt Bookkeeping is a good choice. However, if you prefer the ability to add services, such as tax filing and customer billing, then Bench is the best option.

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