Update: New Computer Investing Products
by CI Staff
In the past, H&R Block has offered free electronic filing (e-filing) in partnership with the IRS to qualifying taxpayers. This year, you can file your federal taxes for free using TaxCut On-line by accessing the H&R Block Web site through the IRS site (www.irs.gov). For more information about this new service, see this issue’s On the Internet column.
The H&R Block Web site offers many ways to prepare and submit federal and state taxes. Do-it-yourself on-line tax programs such as TaxCut allow taxpayers to fill out and file federal returns electronically. The TaxCut Standard on-line version takes you through a step-by-step interview to collect all of the necessary information; it then checks all calculations for errors and can file your forms electronically for you at no additional cost.
The Premium on-line version has added features for more complicated tax filings including a Tax Assistant, one free consultation with an H&R Block tax professional, an interactive video library and round-the-clock support.
The Signature on-line version goes beyond the features mentioned above, sending your completed tax forms to a tax professional who checks for missed opportunities and mistakes, signs and e-files the return. You also receive free year-round tax advice at this level.
Alternatively, you can use H&R Block’s software programs. The TaxCut Standard software uses a customized set of questions to fill out federal forms; it then checks for errors, offers advice, and can import last year’s tax and financial data from Microsoft Money, Quicken, TurboTax or TaxCut. E-filing costs extra, but completed forms can be printed and mailed at no charge. TurboTax Deluxe offers free state and federal e-filings after a mail-in rebate, a tax library and access to IRS publications in addition to the Standard version features.
For taxpayers with complicated returns, TaxCut Premium offers all of the features of TaxCut Deluxe, plus further advice on dividends, capital gains, mortgage refinancing, deductions and more. A free session with a tax professional is also offered to Premium users.
As with TaxCut, you can file your federal return using TurboTax for free through the IRS Web site.
TurboTax is a tax preparation and filing service for both Mac and Windows users. The site offers many options for filing including TurboTax for the Web (1040EZ, Basic and Premier) and desktop software (Basic, Deluxe and Premier).
There are three versions of TurboTax for the Web. Each version offers step-by-step instructions and questionnaires. Information is automatically entered in the proper forms and all calculations are checked for mathematical errors. You can try any version for free, paying only to print or e-file.
1040EZ, the simplest on-line version, is a quick way to fill out the Form 1040EZ. The Basic on-line version covers Forms 1040 and 1040A, and guides you through more complex situations like charitable donations, interest income and deductions. For those with slightly more complicated returns, such as a Form 1040 with Schedules C, D or E, the Premier on-line version is offered. The questionnaires are customized and include an improved Deductions and Credits Interview as well as a Schedule C tax write-off section to help maximize your return.
New to the site this year is SnapTax, a quick version of the 1040EZ and 1040A forms that you can fill out on-line and get automatic calculations. The forms can be printed for free, or e-filed for $5.95.
The Basic software version is for federal tax filing and includes step-by-step instructions, easy-to-answer questionnaires, error-checking and automatic form filling. The software program also allows data to be imported from other financial software programs and can transfer data from previous years’ returns prepared with TaxCut or TurboTax. Additionally, you can e-file for free after a mail-in rebate.
The Deluxe and Premier software versions include all of the features offered in the Basic version in addition to a free copy of TurboTax State. Other features include a life events planner, a medical expenses expert and a tax library for easy reference. Premier also has updated features to assist with Schedule C businesses and rental properties.
CyberTrader Pro Enhancement
CyberTrader has enhanced its CyberTrader Pro direct access trading platform. Active traders now have direct access to e-cbot, the Chicago Board of Trade’s electronic platform for trading mini Dow futures contracts. Users will also be connected to the NYSE OpenBook, which allows traders to see aggregate limit-order volume and depth-of-market for any NYSE stock. CyberTrader Pro has a new order-entry screen and the ability to handle more complex trades and orders than previous versions. CyberTrader Pro costs $249 per month on a per share basis; $149 per month on a per trade basis.
News Source for Quote.com
Quote.com now uses Dow Jones & Co. as their main source of news for QCharts and LiveCharts. Subscribers to either product will receive “Dow Jones Equities News for Investors” which offers real-time news and daily updates on company announcements, mutual fund and stock market activity and more. Coverage includes U.S.-listed companies, markets and indexes. Information about Canadian markets as well as the Federal Reserve and the bond market is also readily available. Free trials are available. [See this issue’s Comparison for more information.]
ValueSheet is an on-line Excel spreadsheet that can analyze up to 10 years of financial data for publicly traded companies while providing fundamental analysis for making buy, hold or sell decisions. Specifically, ValueSheet evaluates a company based on growth, profitability, financial strength, asset efficiency, management effectiveness and valuation. Historical trends are analyzed on a quarterly and annual basis, which allows for projection of future stock performance. The spreadsheet downloads five years of fundamental data from Reuters, Yahoo! Finance and Zacks.com to populate the Excel workbook automatically. The cost is $59.95. [A free off-line version, which requires some data entry, is available at AAII’s download library in the spreadsheet section.]
New Features at Reuters.com
Reuters.com has added an “At a Glance” section that is updated daily with analyst earnings estimates and company earnings releases, plus an exchange-traded fund (ETF) section. Users can screen and research any ETF available to the public and create graphs showing risk/reward trade-offs. The ETF data from Lipper, usually viewed for a fee, is offered for free through the Reuters Web site. “Daily Investor Update” is a new free newsletter that uses stock screens and in-depth analysis to find new investment ideas. Access to Reuters.com is free.
Prophet.net has been acquired by INVESTools, a company that offers investor education though training courses. Prophet.net is a technical analysis and charting site [see this issue’s Comparison]. Basic membership to Prophet.net is free.