Update: New Computer Investing Products
by CI Staff
TurboTax is a tax preparation service allowing qualifying taxpayers to e-file federal returns for free by linking through the IRS Web site (see page 7 for more information).
Intuit, creator of Quicken, is the company behind TurboTax, and the program offers an array of filing options. On-line filers can choose from Free, Deluxe and Premier. All versions include e-filing and offer error-checking, year-to-year data transfer and the ability to import data from Quicken. The Free version is best for simple filings such as a 1040-EZ but does not include state filing. The Deluxe version adds three tools to help maximize deductions and includes state filing, and the Premier version helps taxpayers with complicated investments.
The software program comes in Basic, Deluxe and Premier versions with the same features as their on-line counterparts, in addition to more import options and the ability to file multiple returns without creating new usernames.
Both the software and on-line versions take you through a step-by-step interview process and offer error-checking. You can also stop and start your preparation as often as you like. Your refund can be directly deposited to a checking or savings account; you can also specify any amount owed to be directly withdrawn.
H&R Block is another tax preparation service participating in the IRSs Free File program (see page 7).
H&R Blocks TaxCut service offers a range of programs to fit various needs. You can file using one of four on-line versions of the program (Basic, Premium, Premium + State or Signature), or using a downloadable desktop software version (Premium, Premium + State or Premium + State + e-file).
The Basic on-line version is suited for simple tax filings such as a 1040-EZ. The Premium version helps you maximize deductions and offers a free session with a tax expert, the Premium + State version adds the ability to file your state tax return, and the Signature version sends your return to a tax professional who checks and signs it before it is filed. Each version includes federal e-filing as part of the cost and allows you to transfer data from a previous years filing if you used TaxCut software.
The Premium software program provides assistance with simple tax returns and includes the DeductionPro software, which helps find missed deductions. Premium + State software allows you to file state returns, while Premium + State + e-file lets you e-file both state and federal tax returns for free (e-filing costs extra with the other two programs).
All versions of the on-line and software programs take you through step-by-step questions using information from W-2s, bank statements, investment accounts, and business receipts. The questions are logical and you can start and stop the process as often as you like, as well as make corrections and changes to data previously entered.
The software allows users to import data from various sources, including Money and Quicken. It also checks for a variety of deductions, allows you to see how each piece of the process affects your tax return amount and checks for errors. If you e-file, you can have your refund directly deposited to a checking or savings account; likewise, you can specify any amount owed to be directly deducted.
New York Board of Trade
The New York Board of Trades (NYBOT) real-time market data service, NYBOTLive, is now offering traders access to streaming market data via various mobile devices. The new NYBOTLive Streaming Real Time Mobile Service sends streaming data to wireless devices including BlackBerries and cell phones. The service is free to subscribers of NYBOTLives real-time data. Subscribers download the application, along with a Sun Java plug-in, to their mobile device. A subscription to NYBOTLive real-time data costs $10 per day or $94 per month.
optionsXpress now allows traders to electronically trade futures contracts 24-hours a day during the week. Financial, interest rate, currency, metals, energy and housing futures are available for trading from Sunday at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern) through Friday at5:15 p.m. (Eastern).
ADVFN is now offering pink sheets data on its Web site for free. ADVFNs Pink Sheets page lists the highest trades and highest volume of the day for pink sheet issues as well as the days biggest percent gainers and losers. You can get market quotes on individual securities by entering a ticker symbol or searching a directory of all listed pink sheet stocks. The site also provides links to current news stories regarding pink sheets.
Wall Street Journal Online
WSJ.com has introduced a free Markets Data Center that gives you access to market data and investment tools (select Markets Data & Tools at the top of the home page). The new section of the site has thousands of financial data points and is updated throughout the day. Rolling your mouse over indexes and stocks shows quick charts and headlines. You can also elect to have market data on indexes, stocks, funds, international markets and interest rates sent to your E-mail inbox or handheld device. Additionally, Markets Data Center offers various screeners for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.
InstantBull, a portal for financial news, data and blogs, has launched a new feature that displays a matrix summary of all the latest postings from popular stock message boards. Users can now access thousands of postings from sites including Yahoo! Finance, RagingBull, InvestorVillage, Silicon Investor, MarketWatch, Investors Hub, and ClearStation. The site is free.
SmartMoney.com has posted a new guide to 529 college savings plans called Picking the Right 529 Plan. It outlines what you need to know when comparing plans and points you to resources for more information. There are also links to SmartMoney tools and calculators on saving for college.