Series 1 – Blog #5 – What Expenses Should a PI Charge Clients For

During the course of a job, its excepted for you to incur expenses necessary to the completion of the job. Wisconsin private investigators charge these costs to their clients, as they are unique to specific contracts, in addition to hourly rates. As a result, you should keep track of everything you spend while on the job so you can provide an itemized list as an expense report to your clients to supplement the “expense” line on your invoice.

Be aware, a private investigator should only charge clients for the cost for job necessities. Equipment, such as the cost of a camera or a recording device are not acceptable expenses. What would be is the printing costs of photos and the flash drive a voice recording is delivered on. Other acceptable expenses a private investigator in Wisconsin can charge for are:

  • Meals during surveillance that lasts longer than four hours
  • Parking fees specific to a surveillance location
  • Entrance fee to locations and events to follow a mark
  • Media delivery costs (such as flash drives or photos printed)
  • Payments for access to records

Certain expenses may need to be estimated, as it’s hard to determine how much of a purchase went towards a job’s execution.

A good example of this is gas costs. Investigators should charge clients for travel costs based on the mileage driven, which in return is based on the type of car you drive and local gas prices. The gas mileage of a Ford Focus is different from that of a Dodge Ram, and the cost you pass on to clients should reflect that.

Many investigators will roll up gas costs into travel costs, covering wear and tear on the car in addition to fuel. On average, Wisconsin private investigators charge between $.40 and $.60 a mile for travel costs.