Online Brokerages Tax Software & Training
February 24, 2011
Online brokerages can offer tools that can make tax planning and tax preparation easier. If you calculated your capital gains taxes on stock sales last year on your own, you might wish there was any easier way to track the details when you’re selling stocks. It can be a pain keeping track of the purchase price and commissions in order to figure out your cost basis when you’re filling out Form 1040 Schedule D.
Of course, being your own stock tax calculator isn’t such a big deal if you only have a few transactions but if you buy and sell mutual funds or stocks more frequently – then keeping track of those details can be time consuming. Today we take a look at the tools that some of the online brokerages provide to help you make your job a little easier.
If you are looking for helpful information about your taxes and your Scottrade account, there are some helpful webcasts. One of the most helpful is the one that tells you how to download gains and/or losses to your tax software. The Gain/Loss & Tax Center is free of charge to Scottrade online customers. You can see your realized and unrealized gains/losses, as well as export data into TurboTax and other software, or to export it into Excel or Text. Also available is an audit trail to help you follow particular holdings. Use the helpful webcast on finding your Scottrade tax information to help you make sure that you are getting everything you need to have your taxes prepared properly.
E*Trade offers you a free trial and a discount on the capital gains tracking software Gainskeeper. The ability to automate your Schedule D is a definite plus, as are the portfolio tips that allow you to optimize your performance for tax purposes. Try the promo code ET2004 to help you get a discount on your initial GainsKeeper subscription.
Etrade also offers a 25% TurboTax discount for versions of TurboTax online for it’s customers. You can also check out the Online Tax Center at E*Trade to find tax forms, calculate cost basis, find dates needed for filing, and use any number of other tools to help you gather the information you need to complete your tax return.
If you have questions about preparing your taxes with information from your Vanguard account, the Tax Center FAQs. Learn more about what to expect, and what to do with your tax forms and how to report the gains and losses from your holdings.
On top of offering a tax center, it is worth noting that Vanguard also offers two versions of TurboTax to clients: Online and Desktop Download. You can prepare state and federal returns using this software through Vanguard. Pricing depends on the version you use, but it is available at a 25% discount when you get it through Vanguard, rather than simply buying it elsewhere. Flagship clients actually receive access to TurboTax free of charge.
In order to receive the discount, you have to log into your Vanguard account before going over to the TurboTax site. If you save your progress and come back later, you have to go back through the Vanguard site.
Schwab doesn’t offer any tax software discounts but it does give you the option to download your account and tax information into Quicken, TurboTax, and CompleteTax. When you’re using any of the software tools they may ask if you’d like to retrieve information from your online broker. All you have to do is enter the same login and password as you do when accessing the Schwab website, and the tools will download your account information. You can also find your 1099 forms and other tax information on Schwab.
If you use Fidelity, it is possible for you to import your tax information right into TurboTax. This is helpful, especially since you can import your 1099 directly from Fidelity into your tax preparation software. This includes your 1099-R, which can be helpful for those who took retirement account distributions. Your W-2 can also be imported if your paycheck is processed by Fidelity. Cost basis information and other important tax information can also be imported to your tax prep software.
GAINSADVISOR allows you to get an idea of different capital gains scenarios. You use trade simulations to figure out what will happen when you sell different tax lots. You can also get information about moving into long-term from short-term, and have a look at wash sales.
GAINSTRACKER is another tool that can help you. Look for gains (realized and unrealized), and keep up with your portfolio performance over time. You can optimize your tax costs, and look for specific trades.
Their TAX CENTER offers the tax prep tools you need to fill out investment portions of your tax return. You can export data from Zecco to your tax prep software, and you can automate the preparation of your Schedule D.
Firstrade also offers a discount on Gainskeeper to its customers. As we’ve mentioned, it can help you keep track of gains and losses, and get helpful planning tips to learn more about how you can reduce your tax liability. You can also get help filing your taxes with the automated Schedule D.
Firstrade also lets you download your account information in multiple formats that you can import into tax prep or personal finance software. From a tax planning perspective, Firsttrade offers some helpful information on tax planning and the implications of trading on your taxes in its Tax Education Resources.
TradeKing offers the Maxit Tax Manager from SciVantage to let you track your capital gains and losses and help you create a Schedule D. There’s no fee to use the cost basis and tax reporting software, current TradeKing members have access to Maxit.
TradeKing is pretty big on investor education, once a month they hold education webinars for new investors. Recently they did a Maxit tutorial that walks you through how to use the software and generate a Schedule D. TradeKing does say to double check your Schedule D to make sure Maxit didn’t miss anything. This really also applies to customers of any online brokerage using software like Gainskeeper or Turbo Tax, you know your trades better than the software so be sure to double check.
Hopefully this was a decent overview of some of the tax software and education you can find at online brokers around the web. Good luck with your taxes!
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