Barron's has positively reviewed and recommended GreenTraderTax almost every year since 1999.
Barron’s Electronic Investor column is the most respected weekly column following the active trader industry. Thanks Theresa W. Carey and Kathy Yakal of Barron’s!
Barron’s (10/20/12) “Taxing Start for Brokers” (Electronic Investor), By Theresa Carey. Ms. Carey writes about a new report from Celent that justifies what we have been saying about this cost-basis reporting problem, all along. In her article above, Ms. Carey writes “We found some helpful information about the whole issue from Robert Green, a CPA who focuses on traders. His Website (greencompany.com) includes an education center, which features blog posts and Webinars on the subject.”
Barron’s (3/24/12) “Tax Filing on Trades: It May Pay to Wait” (Electronic Investor), By Theresa Carey. “There’s confusion among our readers on how to file the newly revised 1099-B from brokers, especially those with multiple trading accounts. It’s worth getting an extension on your filing deadline to win time to work out the revised wash-sale and capital-gains regimen. A CPA may be of help.” Excerpts with Green:
- If this describes you, Robert Green, a certified public accountant at Green NFH (greentradertax.com), which focuses on high-frequency traders, says you should consider filing for an extension on 2011 tax returns, rather than risk filing an incorrect return and having to amend it later.
Why the crunch this year? The 1099-B’s new layout wasn’t made public until November, nor was the requirement to file an additional form to reconcile capital gains, IRS form 8949. Coming so late in the year, these changes have caused consternation for investors—especially frequent traders.Some Barron’s readers have told us that they’ve already received corrected 1099-B forms—it is the clearing firms’ responsibility to send them to investors—or what they say are incorrect wash-sale calculations. A wash sale occurs when a trader sells a stock at a loss, then buys it back within 30 days. The IRS doesn’t let taxpayers claim write-offs for losses on wash sales.Green is also urging brokers and investors to persuade the Internal Revenue Service to turn off tax audits based on capital gains for the tax year 2011, since there is a great deal of confusion, and lack of standardization in the industry.Taxpayers who get a refund based on incorrect data will have to pay it back—with penalties and interest. But the 2011 situation is so messy, Green thinks that CPAs might shun investors with lots of wash sales, rather than deal with increased audits.
Barron’s (12/17/11) “Surprise: New IRS Form May Confuse” (Electronic Investor), By Theresa Carey. The agency’s revamped 1099-B may cause some consternation for investors when it arrives in mid-February. Ms. Carey recommends our TradeLog software, again.
Jan. 11, 2010, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, What’s the Best Tax-Prep Software? By Theresa W. Carey. Excepts follow:
THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE IN mid-December issued proposed regulations on cost-basis tax reporting. Under the measure, brokers would be required to report to the government the cost of equities sold by their customers in 2011. For 2012, they’ll have to report similar information about mutual-fund sales and, in 2013, options and fixed-income cost bases. At present, the cost basis of transactions is communicated only to clients, who are responsible for reporting it to the IRS. The comment period on the proposal ends on Feb. 8.
Investors who use online brokers have long complained to us that they have trouble getting accurate cost-basis information from the firms. So will the industry be ready in time to comply with the measure?
Even though the deadline for options is a little further off, figuring transaction costs there will be a particular challenge……..
…. Frequent traders already have to report wash sales themselves. These transactions are triggered when one sells a holding at a loss, and purchases it (or something that is substantially the same, like a similar ETF) again within 30 days. The loss on the sale is disallowed, though you can add it to the cost basis of the new purchase. The changes in the IRS rules place a new burden on online brokers to track and report wash sales, including a detailed list showing each sale on a single line. Some active traders generate thousands of wash sales per year.
The complications of wash sales can lead to accounting nightmares if you have to make all the calculations on your own. Some online brokers report wash sales if you make the transactions on their Website, but the wash-sale rules apply even if, for example, you sell a stock at E*Trade and then buy one that is considered substantially the same at Charles Schwab.
Traders who opt to change their accounting method from cash basis to mark-to-market aren’t subject to wash-sale rules. But they open themselves up to a great deal of additional scrutiny. Mark-to-market traders are few in number and require heavy-duty tax software that can’t be found in the usual mass-market products. We recommend Armencomp’s TradeLog MTM (www.tradelogsoftware.com/greentradertax) for these hyperactive traders. This link is TradeLog for GreenTraderTax.
Feb. 9, 2009, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, New Investor Tax Rules on the Way, By Theresa W. Carey. Excepts follow:
- FREQUENT TRADERS OF OPTIONS, COMMODITIES AND currencies who don’t have an accountant might want to start shopping for one in the next few weeks. They aren’t going to get much help from electronic tax preparers. “We figure those people are getting their taxes done professionally,” is the way one software maker’s representative explains the lack of advances aimed at derivatives traders.
- ROBERT GREEN, A CPA and tax guru to frequent traders, says that the IRS is working to close the “tax gap” by finding more unreported income, thereby boosting revenue without having to rely on Congress to raise tax rates or shrink deductions. A law passed in 2008 will require additional reporting of your average-cost basis and short-term versus long-term treatment on securities, so it will then be easier for the Internal Revenue Service to double-check net trading gain or loss reporting. This law, which affects the 1099-B forms that you receive from your broker, will be mandatory in 2011.”This 1099-B rule change may actually help traders, because when there is noncompliance, the IRS mails jeopardy tax bills to traders, discounting all missing cost-basis information on 1099-Bs,” says Green. To check out his Website, Green Trader Tax, for advice and tips for frequent traders, go to http://www.greentradertax.com.
- Using a tax-prep program, even if you consult with a professional, is a great way to organize your paperwork. For frequent traders, the combination of TradeLog (http://www.tradelogsoftware.com/greentradertax), which is supported by Robert Green, plus TurboTax, should do the job. If you aren’t a frequent trader and stick mostly to stocks and mutual funds, any of these programs will do the job. The nice thing about the online versions is that you can get started for free and see how you like the interface. You pay only when you file.
Feb. 12, 2007, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, Tax Software for Serious Investors, By Theresa W. Carey. An excellent review of GTT TradeLog and GreenTraderTax. Click here for an excerpt.
Feb. 13, 2006, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, Computing Your Taxes, By Theresa W. Carey and Kathy Yakal. An excellent review of GTT TradeLog and GreenTraderTax. Click here for an excerpt.
Dec. 20, 2004, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY, KATHY YAKAL
‘Tis the Season. An excellent review of GTT trader tax guides and GTT TradeLog accounting software. Click here for an excerpt.
Feb. 16, 2004, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“TurboTax gets our nod for helping you avoid typing in all those numbers.” GTT Tradelog is included in a positive fashion. Click here for excerpts and GTT observations on why we are the best full service around for active business traders.
Jan. 19, 2004, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Greater Tool Theory: Trade-Ideas flags gaining stocks, while GTT TradeLog keeps track of your gains.” Click here for the portion of this article on GTT TradeLog. Another great review.
May 26, 2003, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“More than Advertised.” “….Another online freebie that can benefit traders is Green Trader Tax’s PalTalk event.” Click here to learn more.
Dec. 9, 2002, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Trader’s tax toolbox.” Excellent full review of GTT TradeLog software program. Click here to read the entire article.
Feb. 11, 2002, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Computing Your Taxes – The Web and software can make preparing your return easier, if not less taxing.”Click here to see excerpts from the article.
July 2, 2001, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Dollars and Sense, Direct-Access Showdown.” Barron’s reviews the online brokers every year and cites tax support as one of their weaknesses. Barron’s helped put GTT together with brokers to improve their tax support and overall ratings. Thanks, Barron’s, for helping us power the Tax Centers for leading brokers. Click here to learn more.
Feb. 12, 2001, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Taxing Times – Software still beats out Web sites for preparing returns.” This was Barron’s first excellent review of our GTT TradeLog software program. Click here to read the full review.
May 10, 1999, Barron’s, Electronic Investor, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Taxable Gains.” The first news about the new trader tax laws was reported in Barron’s in December 1998. Green picked up on it and went full force into spreading the word in trader communities. As it turns out, almost all traders were in the dark about the incredible new trader tax benefits. Green published the first, and still the best, trader tax guide, laying out all the benefits. Theresa Carey of Barron’s, on her own without any prodding from GTT, found the guides on the Internet and recommended them to all active traders. Click hereto see the full article and excerpts.
FREQUENT TRADERS WHO DO THEIR OWN taxes are either control freaks (my category) or very comfortable with the ins and outs of tax accounting. Crazy is another possibility. In any case, do-it-yourselfers of all types need tax software — either packaged or online.
Any tax program should be able to deal with income and deductions, but the serious investor needs to compile an accurate Schedule D, covering all transactions. There’s no shortage of software alternatives. Sorting through them — particularly the jumble you see in stores — is the problem…………………….
……..One solution for traders with reams of taxable transactions is TradeLog (http://www.tradelogsoftware.com/greentradertax), published by Armen Computing. We like TradeLog for active stock and options traders. It does a much better job of tracking options transactions than Quicken or Money, and it’s a good tool for short-sellers. TradeLog can also help you track futures transactions, which aren’t specifically addressed in other programs.
TradeLog offers five versions, keyed to transaction volume. TradeLog 200, which covers up to 200 trades, is $69. The top-of-the-line GTT TradeLog, which handles unlimited transactions and is aimed at those needing mark-to-market accounting, is $349. GTT TradeLog is also supported by Green Trader Tax (www.greentradertax.com), which provides tax advice for frequent traders.
Click here for the complete article at Barron’s. A subscription is required, and we recommend it; you will have access to their entire archive too.
TAX-PREPARATION SEASON OUGHT TO BEGIN with a basic question: Should you do it yourself or hire the job out? If you feel that you’re educated enough on the ins and outs of filing your own return, with all the complications your life presents tax-wise, then pick up a copy of a tax-preparation program to help you out……….
FOR THE PERIPATETIC TRADER, neither TurboTax nor TaxCut will make the job of preparing your Schedule D easy, though. That’s where TradeLog and GTT TradeLog come in handy (www.armencomp.com). These programs, published by Armen Computing, help those who actively trade to generate portfolio-performance reports as well as prepare a Schedule D.
GTT TradeLog, which is supported by Green Trader Tax (www.greentradertax.com), is aimed at traders who need to track mark-to-market transactions. TradeLog is for all the other active traders. Prices range from $49 for a version that is restricted to 100 transactions, to $349 for the mark-to-market version.
The programs produce a file in TXF format that can be imported into TurboTax or TaxCut for preparing your entire return. We found that TurboTax handled the larger number of transactions more elegantly and with fewer errors.
Day traders and others who trade frequently may want to qualify for professional-trader status, which offers quite a few tax benefits. One of them is electing “mark-to-market” accounting, which converts capital gains and losses to ordinary gains and losses, so there is no limit on the amount of losses that can be deducted. MTM traders are also exempt from wash-sale rules. The catch here is that you would have had to elect this accounting method by last April 15 to use it for the 2004 tax year. Be sure to elect MTM by April 15, 2005, if you want to use it next year.
Individuals who qualify as being in the business of trading can qualify for “trader tax status.” With business rather than investor tax treatment, these individuals file business tax returns as part of their individual tax returns on a Schedule C (Business Profit or Loss). This situation is tricky enough that you ought to consult with an accountant. Start by picking up a copy of Robert Green’s “2004 Guide: Trader Tax Law & Benefits” at www.greencompany.com/Traders/GuidesTraderTax.shtml.
If you trade in such volumes that you’re overwhelming Quicken with your transactions, take a look at TradeLog. It properly matches your trades, including short sales, and it calculates your gains and losses, including wash-sale adjustments. It then generates your Schedule D Capital Gains and Losses report. There’s a version for mark-to-market traders, GTT TradeLog, as well as various versions with restricted numbers of transactions. GTT TradeLog can generate Form 4797, a task not easily accomplished by the mainstream tax-preparation programs.
In addition, if you are buying a stock that you sold recently for a loss, you should make certain that you’re not falling into the wash-sale trap. A wash sale will happen when an investor sells shares of a security at a loss, and then buys that same security, or one that is considered substantially identical, within 30 days. To further complicate this rule, the security could be purchased 30 days before or after the sale for a loss, effectively creating a 61-day window.
When a wash sale is triggered, your loss is deferred and the cost basis of the new lot is increased to reflect the deferred amount. This will delay — or possibly deny — your ability to take a loss on your tax return. To avoid triggering a wash sale on a security sold for a loss, you can buy a stock from the same sector, say one drug company for another, or perhaps an exchange-traded fund that covers the pharmaceutical industry. In the case of mutual funds, you can buy a different fund with a similar investment objective. Online stock and mutual-fund selection tools are a huge help comparing and analyzing alternative investments.
Excerpts: FEAR, MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, is what most people associate with filing their tax return. Or at least acute anxiety. Step over the line with some deduction and you’re headed for an audit, even if it was an honest mistake. Or if you miss all the deductions to which you’re entitled, you’ll experience a deep ache in the pocketbook. The tax laws are nearly impossible to understand, and they only get more complicated as your income grows and the number of “taxable events” (one of my favorite IRS euphemisms) increases. Many taxpayers let a professional tax preparer or an accountant prepare their returns just so they can sleep soundly.
Barron’s readers are apt to have more of those tax events than the average American, thanks to keeping an investment portfolio up-to-date. If you’re familiar with the complications of your finances – and if they’re not unduly complicated – you can do your taxes yourself using either a desktop program, which is installed on your computer, or an online service, which you run from your Web browser. We’ll take a look at three desktop programs as well as three online services.
We ran a scenario through these programs and services that bears a strong resemblance to the Carey family: one salaried employee, one self-employed workaholic with a home office, two lovely children and a variety of investments. This year we added the sale of a primary residence to our script, in response to several reader requests. We also tried to import a file containing stock and options trades generated during the recent review of GTT TradeLog (Electronic Investor, Jan. 19. - see below)
TurboTax did a better job of reading in past years’ data without errors, importing transactions from online brokers, and also reading the file generated by TradeLog without any trouble. TaxCut could not read the file without editing, and has a limited number of online partners. TaxACT’s import ability is very limited; We would only recommend the program to taxpayers with extremely simple returns.
TaxCut offers an intriguing online service with its Signature Edition. For $79.95 ($99.95 after April 1), you can prepare your return online, and pass it on for a professional review by an H&R Block tax adviser electronically. The tax professional also signs your return with you, and their Ask a Tax Advisor service is free year-round. The regular editions of the H&R Block online tax programs also allow you to submit your return to a professional for review for an additional $29.95. TurboTax’s Professional Tax Review is $24.95 to $49.95, depending on the forms you file. You can add telephone support to the tax review for $65. TurboTax also offers Audit Defense, starting at $29.95.
GTT Observations (not from Barron’s yet):
GTT’s full service tax solution for active business traders is the best solution around. GTT TradeLog has the best download capability from the most supported brokers – more than TurboTax – and we do a better job at short sales and for hyperactive trading levels. You can then import GTT TradeLog’s results into TurboTax. Barron’s pointed out the other programs are not as good for downloads or program features. Although H&R Block’s program is not as good as TurboTax, Barron’s likes that a package is available with an H&R Block tax advisor. That may be a good value and service for less active traders, but we have found that H&R Block advisers fall down on the job when it comes to business traders. Just ask one about IRC Section 475 mark-to-market accounting or trader tax status, and you should get a blank stare or”Sorry, I need to look that up.” That doesn’t cut the mustard for business traders.
GTT offers the only full-service solution around for business traders. Use GTT TradeLog to download your trades, use GTT Trader Tax Guides to prepare your own tax returns with TurboTax, import your GTT TradeLog results into TurboTax and then e-mail GTT professionals your TurboTax and GTT TradeLog data files. We can fix your TurboTax and GTT TradeLog files if need be and e-mail them back to you, or we can convert your TurboTax file into our professional tax software, Lacerte, also produced by Intuit.
So listen to Barron’s and you may be fine, but if you are a business trader, Barron’s suggested you engage an experienced professional. That’s GTT, not one of the national consumer brands (who don’t know beans about traders). We have the same nifty service that H&R Block does, but we offer you a download solution that works (GTT TradeLog and TurboTax). H&R Block TaxCut does not work well for downloads (see article), and what good is their advisor solution (even though it’s a low price) if the advisor doesn’t know beans about complex business trader tax issues? We must have more than 20 H&R Block clients who missed the important MTM deadline, are stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted tax losses and never claimed trader tax status business benefits. A penny saved and thousands of dollars lost. Get the full service solution you need, and that is only available from GTT.
Excerpt: Speaking of tools for peripatetic traders, tax season is coming up. We’ll look at tax software and online tax-prep sites in a future column, but in the meantime, what can you do if you want to keep track of your stock, futures, options, and currency trades? Try the updated version of GTT TradeLog, a program that helps active traders calculate profits and losses, and prepare tax returns. And mark-to-market traders can relax – GTT TradeLog can generate Form 4797 for you, which is a task not easily accomplished by the mainstream tax-preparation programs.
TradeLog can close out the tax year and help you match your trades to your broker’s 1099. The program establishes a data file for each trading year and each broker, and you can sort transactions on a variety of criteria: ticker symbol, date range, or tax lot. You can even sort trades on whether they’re long or short, open or closed. Traders who don’t qualify for mark-to-market status can use GTT TradeLog to track wash sales.
New in Version 4, which was recently released, is the ability to resize the TradeLog window and sort the columns. The publisher added a series of online tutorials which describe how the various functions work – a very helpful improvement over the prior version, which presented you with a blank screen and very little advice on how to make it work.
The program itself has the look of a spreadsheet, so some of the functions are intuitively obvious – adding a row for new data, for instance. One very welcome addition to this version is the use of alternating colors for the sets of transactions pertaining to a particular stock or option; you can track the progress of your buys and sells up until the time you close out a position. The program shows a summary of your open positions, with your unrealized gains and losses; you can update the prices with a button click.
Additional enhancements include the ability to isolate long- and short-term trades, plus tracking gains and losses from currency trades. You can generate your Schedule D for stocks, options and single-stock futures trades, or the IRS Form 6781 for futures trades.
Although adding transactions manually is easy in TradeLog, frequent traders will find it much more convenient to import transactions from over 30 online brokers, including Interactive Brokers, Ameritrade, BrownCo, E*Trade, Harrisdirect, Schwab, Scottrade, Terra Nova and Tradestation. GTT TradeLog doesn’t import the data directly from the broker’s Website, but it creates an import filter, found on the Options menu. From your broker’s site, you generate a transaction file and save it to your computer, then use the import filter for your broker. The transactions are then read into TradeLog, and you can manipulate them as you please.
You can export transactions to a text file, an Excel file, or an Adobe Acrobat report. The publisher has changed the pricing structure significantly: You can purchase an unrestricted license for $349; or, cheaper versions are available for processing fewer transactions. You can test out a fully functional copy for free, but it’s restricted to only 20 transactions. Check it out at http://www.tradelogsoftware.com/greentradertax.
Click here for copy of this review in pdf version.
Excerpt: Another online freebie that can benefit traders is Green Trader Tax’s PalTalk event, set to take place May 27 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. EST. The topic is, as you might expect, tax-related, but money-saving strategies also will be discussed. The room is private, for GTT professionals and invited guests only. You can remain anonymous if you’d like (just in case any IRS agents are lurking). To attend, send an e-mail to email@example.com and you’ll get a password and directions for how to log in. This is a first-come first-served event.
Click here to learn more about our PalTalk events.
Dec. 9, 2002, ELECTRONIC INVESTOR, By THERESA W. CAREY
“Traders’ tax toolbox.” Edited by Randall W. Forsyth
Excerpt: Green Trader Tax has teamed up with TradeLog to publish GTT TradeLog, a program to help frequent traders calculate their profits and losses, and to prepare tax returns efficiently. Mark-to-market traders can generate that pesky Form 4797 for the IRS relatively painlessly. Changing to mark-to-market accounting can be complicated, but GTT TradeLog gives you a Q&A that helps you navigate the process.
One of the advantages of using a GTT TradeLog rather than Quicken or Money if you’re a mark-to-market trader is that TradeLog can close out the year for you and help you match your trades to your broker’s 1099. The program establishes a data file for each trading year and each broker, and you can sort transactions on a variety of criteria: ticker symbol, date range, or tax lot. You can even sort trades on whether they’re long or short, open or closed. Another important consideration is accounting for wash sales for those who don’t opt for mark-to-market status. A key feature of the program is the ability to import transactions from more than two dozen online brokers, including AmeriTrade, E*Trade, Interactive Brokers, Harris Direct, Charles Schwab, Terra Nova and Tradescape. GTT TradeLog doesn’t import the data directly from a broker’s Website, but it creates an import filter for transaction files that you create while looking at your account online. Save the transaction file to your computer, then use the import filter for your broker, and the new transactions get pulled into GTT TradeLog quickly.
You can export transactions to a text file or an Excel spreadsheet if you’d like. The program’s power lies in its ability to make sense of the tax implications of peripatetic trading. For $345, you can get the program from http://www.tradelogsoftware.com/greentradertax.
Feb. 11, 2002, ELECTRONIC INVESTOR, By THERESA W. CAREY and Kathy Yakal.“Computing Your Taxes – The Web and software can make preparing your return easier, if not less taxing.” Edited by Randall W. Forsyth
Excerpt: Very active traders, especially those using mark-to-market accounting, should check into the Trader Tax Solution Package offered by GreenTraderTax.com.
Click here to see entire article reprint.
Excerpt: GTT recently formed an alliance with Terra Nova Trading (TNT) to build and provide most of the trader tax content for their new Tax Center at TNT. Barron’s ranked TNT second out of a dozen direct-access brokers, mentioning that TNO’s new Tax Center and Tools helped them achieve this very high ranking. GTT TradeLog is one of TNO’s new Tools for users.
Click here to see entire article reprint.
Excerpt: Someday, we’ll all do our taxes online. But for now, we recommend that you shell out the extra bucks to buy a desktop program if you’re going to do your return yourself. Hyperactive traders also should look at the Trader Tax Solution Package offered by GreenTraderTax.com. They’re not cheap, but they can help you determine if you qualify as a professional trader in the IRS’s eyes. The programs also help traders manage their hundreds (thousands?) of transactions better than TurboTax and TaxCut, which are more suited for long- term investors.
Click here to see the entire article reprint.
Excerpt: Big surprise: Day traders seldom show a (taxable) profit. Don’t let the IRS spoil the fun of online trading. For the glorious, gory details on these rules and how they apply to traders, check out … www.greencompany.com. They can help you determine which category of trading activity you qualify for as far as the IRS is concerned. And, if you get lucky, the expense is deductible on your 1999 return.
The Barron’s article featured the Table of Contents from our Trader Tax Guide & Questionnaire.