Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Taxes and Online Financial Services, Part Two

This is really an update on my last post: the unnecessary pain of accurately calculating gain and loss on reinvested dividends. In that post, I chided Schwab Investments for not calculating the gain and loss and including that information on the 1099.

Well, I can add E*TRADE to the same list. Same story, up to a point. E*TRADE allows the user to download the data on the various views I could pull up, including the cost basis data that E*TRADE could have used to fill in the cost basis fields on the 1099.

But, there was a catch. When I downloaded the gain and loss table, Excel dumped all the column data into column one. No wonder: E*TRADE placed double quotes at the start and end of each line. An extra text edit required, another roll of my eyes. (Didn't anyone test this?)

If online financial brokers expect us to use their services, they need to provide first-class historical information downloaded in a number of formats. (Heard of XML, guys?) And they need to provide better online tax data, minimally a complete Form 1099 for download, and not an electronic version of the old crappy hardcopy.

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