Pitbull vs Canopy: Battle of the Tax Resolution Software Titans

“Should I use Pitbull or Canopy?”

“What’s the best tax resolution software?”

…and other variations on this same question have become the #1 thing I get asked on the “Ask Me Anything” webinars that I occasionally host.

Since it’s a question that inevitably turns into a 15-20 minute conversation about features, pricing, and user interfaces, I’ve decided to create this page to have a place to send all the folks that ask the question. So if I sent you here because you asked the question, please don’t be offended — I’ve simply gotten tired of repeating myself over and over and over and…

To cut straight to the chase…

1). There are only four full-service tax resolution software programs that I’m aware of. One of them is really old and archaic, one of them is too new and behind the 8-ball. That leaves Pitbull and Canopy.

2). What about Audit Detective from Tax Help Software? Yes, it’s a great tool — I used it myself when I was in practice. If you want a stand-alone transcript analysis tool without all the other features of a full-service tax resolution software package, then by all means get Audit Detective and don’t even bother looking elsewhere. But if you want a full package suite, that’s not what they do.

3). Don’t be a cheapskate on this. The price difference between Pitbull and Canopy is insignificant. Both platforms offer the exact same core features, such as client portal, document management, 433 questionnaire, resolution options determination, etc. They both offer additional features for additional fees. How they break out those features and fees is very different. For example, transcript service is included at no cost with Canopy, but Pitbull charges an extra $250/yr for it. They also both charge extra for practice management features, such as time tracking, billing, payment processing, etc. With Pitbull, you’re going to be in about $1500 per year for a single user license for the important stuff, at Canopy it’s $2000. You should ambivalent about that $500 difference, as one tax resolution case pays for your entire year of software.

4). In terms of overall features, there’s very little difference between what the two platforms actually do, which is the important part. Some people will argue that Pitbull’s fee quote generator pushes that platform in their favor, but hold the phone. I have long held strong opinions regarding how the big, national fly-by-night tax resolution … Continue reading

If they’re broke, how can a tax resolution client afford my fee?

This is the inevitable question.

On every webinar, every Tax Resolution Fast Start Boot Camp, every open Q&A call, and via numerous emails, this is the #1 most frequently asked question in the tax resolution universe.

As such, I figure it’s about high time that I write out a formal response that I can refer folks to in the future.

So if you sent me an email or otherwise posed this question, and I sent you here, welcome, and know that you are not alone. 🙂

First, I’ll give you the short answer: People find the money to pay for what’s important to them.

Here in the United States, the wealthiest nation in human history, there is no shortage of money. Money is literally everywhere. Compared to most other countries, and most other times in history, money is also relatively easy to get.

“Pfttt!” I hear some readers saying. But statistically speaking, it’s true. Here in America, even our lowest income earners make more money in a year than billions of people around the world make in 5 or 10 years.

But money here doesn’t just come from earned income. We also have one of the greatest credit facilities in the world (be that for good or bad). Many people (not everybody, but most), can tap into credit almost at will, and many people do exactly that in order to obtain the money to pay for what matters most to them.

Starting to make sense?

What you’ll find when you start doing tax resolution work is a very simple truth: People had the money to pay their taxes, they simply chose to do something else with the money instead. This is where tax debts come from in the first place.

Many times, people are using their tax money to support a lifestyle that is more grandiose than they should be. This applies equally across the socioeconomic spectrum, by the way. People making $25,000 per year can wind up with a tax debt just as easily as people making $250,000 per year.

So, the money is flowing through them, they’re just not doing with it what they’re supposed to be doing with it (in the eyes of the IRS, that is).

By the way, if you don’t believe me in regards to this matter, I’d encourage you to take the Trailer Park Challenge. This challenge doesn’t involve a bucket of ice water or … Continue reading

Using Audit Protection Plans & POA Monitoring to Boost Bottom Line Profits

Chances are you’ve already heard of this offering, but perhaps never given much thought to it. It goes by various names, such as “Audit Defense Service”, “Audit Protection Plan”, and probably the worst possible name, “Audit Insurance”.

Quick tip: Do NOT call it insurance. State insurance regulators will have a field day with you.

Pricing for this service can range all the map, from as little as $30 through services that Block and TurboTax offer, to $200 and up from bigger audit protection plan companies and bigger CPA firms.

What exactly are we talking about? Audit Protection Plans.

Firms have been offering some variation of audit defense, either packaged and sold directly with tax return preparation or as an add-on, since at least the early 90’s. Typically, an audit protection service offered along with return preparation applies to that return only, and provides a certain amount of work that will be done on the client’s behalf in the event they are chosen for an IRS or state examination of the return. Plans typically impose one or more limitations, such as to the number of hours of representation that are included, or excluding certain credits such as EITC.

By offering audit protection plans to all or most of your tax preparation clients, you are essentially spreading the cost of audit representation for whomever needs it across a large number of people, akin to an insurance program (but again, never call it insurance!). Since the IRS audits less than 0.5% of all tax returns, the overall odds of being selected for examination are about 1 in 200. Additionally, over 70% of examinations are correspondence audits, meaning that the representation work is actually done asynchronously (not in real time with an IRS employee), making it far easier to schedule such work around the rest of your day.

If you have 200 tax prep clients that each paid $99 for an audit protection plan, just as an example, that’s an extra $19,800 coming in to your practice from your existing clients. If only 1 in 200 requires audit representation, on average, then you can easily see that just offering the protection plan becomes ones of the most profitable services within your practice. In addition, you can charge different prices based actual audit risk. For example, since Schedule C filers get audited at a higher rate, your audit protection plan rate for that kind of return … Continue reading