Tax Prep - Best Practices?


I’m new to CANOPY. I am excited to bring all my clients on board and use CANOPY as a portal for tax preparation. I am interested to learn from other practitioners what have been some successful ways to encourage clients to accept invitations, how to use Engagement and Tasks to standardize the tax preparation process and any other advice you can provide.


Me too Gina. We can probably learn and share a lot from each other.
I’ve already started talking to clients about using this but don’t see much support for the compliance catergory.
Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. Contacted Legal Shield for Engagement Letter Templates
  2. Complained to Canopy about my inability to collect signatures on any documents other than Letters. They said that it’s on the top of their list.
  3. I’m just trying to figure out how to do a tax prep survey. I have a Word document with the basic info I need to request but it’s cumbersome for the client. They have to download it in order to type on it or to hand fill it out, and then upload it again. That’s fine for the Milleniums but the older crowd my not be thrilled with that process.
    a. My next step is to pester the Canopy staff to find out how I can copy one of their surveys and modify it.
    b. Do you have any thoughts?
  4. Regarding scanning the documents, I’m working towards scanning the source documents at the time I’m meeting with the client and returning the originals at the same time.
    a. Right now we are keeping the originals until the tax return has been reviewed. (I have about 5 employees, and some are newbies)

If you want to talk tax prep in general, I have a lot of thoughts about how things should be done but they’re not related to canopy.


Thanks for responding…I was wondering if there was anybody ‘out there’ in cyberspace as this community appears to be rather small.

I have designed my own engagement letters, but am still confused as to how to get a client signature. I’ve sent a file to my test client (me at another computer/email address), I can’t even see the file. And there doesn’t appear to be a way to sign. What I do is send the letter and response page separately, so I only have to keep the response page on file.

I have most of my clients trained to send me scanned PDFs, no problem even with the Baby Boomers. I used to use SafeSend, but hope all can use Canopy.

Surveys won’t work. Already asked that question. Surveys are only for the Tax Resolution part of the software.

I find the word processing part of Canopy to be a pain. I wish I could import Word files.



Gina and Kelly,

Hello and Happy Holidays!! I am so pleased to see your post here in the Canopy Community There has been very little talk of "Best Practices’ in this forum so your topic is definitely a “breath of fresh air”.

Honestly, Canopy has come a long way since last tax season! In my opinion, I do not think that very many “Tax Prep” Practitioners (if any at all) would have even thought of using CANOPY as a portal for tax preparation. However, with the addition of a handful of great features this past year, I feel that it is “doable”, although it will take a bit of “grunt work” on the front end.

Have you had a chance to poke around in Canopy much? :grinning:


I hadn’t thought of it as a portal until I saw it at the Los Angeles Technology show. I really liked the demo version, so we signed up at the show.

I still can’t figure out how to get a client to sign a letter.

We’ve set up the work flow as follows - an Engagement, a single Task with subtasks for the engagement letter through gathering of data phase. Then the data package will be sent to Gruntworks for input into Drake software. Then we’ll review and I’m still figuring out the client signing phase.

80% of my clients are not local, so I am using cloud apps to store, process and file returns.



I have done some but definitely need to do more. We really need to be able to have a survey for tax prep. Would you be interested in working with us to develop one?

Also, I would love a template for engagement letters. My attorney is a general practitioner and I think it would be better if I provided him with engagement letters for him to review rather than asking him to create them for us. Can you point me in the right direction?



Kelly I would help but I am such a newbie, I have not found the front door yet. I worked on a form last night from back to front and still don’t know if it is right or if my client owes money or if he is going to jail.


Kelly forget the name some how my husbands name is stuck in my account.


I am new to Canopy as well. I am happy to see others are asking about Best Practices. I signed up after a Demo and was told that I could get anything I wanted signed, but they do not have KBI access for IRS docs yet.


I was looking into Safesend. How do you like it? You mentioned wanting to try to get Canopy to replaces that. i was wondering how it could do that, as I am not aware of Canopy email being encrypted, it appears to just utilize your existing email, like gmail or whatever you have.


The email is not encrypted, but I am not using it for that. I was using Safesend for sending and receiving files as well as storing returns. Canopy solves those 3 issues.

Safesend is a bit cumbersome, and you have to remember to get the files before they are deleted if you don’t purchase the storage option.


I figured out the only way to get a signature is if its setup through the engagement and its typed in the system. You can add a signature spot to an existing document which is absurd as every other esign software can). I have been using practice ignition for engagement letters.


Hi Kelly and Gina, I would be interested in to know what forms you got from LegalShield. I’m assuming you remember. I would love to talk general tax prep work with either of you or with anyone. I’m interested to figure out how a ladder which in essence is your own survey can be created and used. I would also be interested to know what you are trying to accomplish with your scanning by using canopy. I used rate software and gruntworks. so far my thoughts have fun to using canopy to send out an engagement letter and possibly a supplemental organizer which might cover issues related to financial planning type issues. Finally, have either of you used Canopy through the tax season?
Tim Wolfe



I use Drake and Gruntworks. I don’t like the Drake organizer, it is usually too long and overwhelming for my clients. My engagement letter is in Canopy. I ask that all forms be uploaded (w2’s, 1099s etc) to Canopy. I have some simple forms that I created for Sch A, C & E.

Each return is a TASK in Canopy. I have custom statuses for each stage in the return process. I also use tags to identify returns on extension.



Thanks for your response. If you don’t mind I have a couple of other questions. I am just starting on Canopy.

From my initial use of the function called letters, it appears that letters have to be created individually. Can letters, such as the engagement letter, be prepared once for all clients? (Global letter)

Based on some of the community there appeared to be a question, or at least a problem, in utilizing an electronic signature through canopy. Do you know if that’s been resolved or at least that e-signatures can be done tthrough canopy and it’s just a matter of understanding the proper steps to follow?

Are you able to somehow put the transactions letter on canopy? When I say the transaction letter, that refers to the Drake letter that indicates the refund or payment to be made electronically through the clients checking account.

At some point I’d be interested to find out more about how your tax return progress is handled through tasks. however, I’m sure the more I learn about canopy I’ll probably be able to figure some of these things out.

Are you able to use Canopy for Billings and collections?

Do you pay for the use of surveys and have you found them beneficial? In what way ? I am going to ask for a demonstration because I am not even sure what is included in the category of surveys.

One last question, have you found canopy to be an overall significant time-saver in the tax return preparation process?

Thanks for your responses.



Yes, engagement letters can be standardized and sent to multiple clients.

Signatures are just fancy email responses, so adequate for engagement letters but not returns.

No on the Drake letter. I upload the entire Drake client copy.

Surveys are only relevant to tax controversy, such as OICs. Since I don’t do much of that, I don’t buy that license. If you do, it is worth it.

I use QBOA for all billings and collections.

Generally speaking Canopy is good for client interaction and return tracking. It replaced Safesend and Karbon.



Good afternoon Gina!!

I have been a #FullThrottle Canopy Tax user for about three years now! I fully embraced the Tax Resolution module immediately and am delighted.

I have had reservations about practice management after using Karbon which had the “guts” of the program built in as far as tasks and workflows.

Can you offer any hints on how you have been able to get the Practice Management module “up to speed” and to your liking without having to “reinvent the wheel”?

Thank you in advance for your assistance!



What do you mean by custom statuses?