Broker Tax Reporting

Updated Saturday, March 5, 2011

There's no sure thing in this world except death and taxes. While there is little one can do about the former, new technologies are now available that help make the tax preparation process at least easier for investors.  The best way to save yourself time is to import your brokerage activity directly into your tax preparation software. Manually entering an exhaustive trade history is time consuming and error prone so savvy investors should seek to avoid going this route. Below we present a few options to save yourself time.

Tax Data File Generation
Many brokers allow users to export tax information into a CSV file, aka a comma delimited file.  Our reviewed brokers that have this feature are as follows:
Brokers that do not have this feature:
TaxAct Online can import these CSV files directly.  For explicit instructions on how to generate these CSV for each broker please visit

Some brokers allow the export of tax information into a TXF file, or Tax eXchange Format, so that this data then can be imported into tax software. Of the reviewed brokers, Scottrade, TradeKing and thinkorswim have this feature. Simply log into your account with these brokers and select to download tax related data as a TXF file. Make sure to check with your preferred tax software to see if it can import these files.  If your broker does not have this feature, you can use one of the many CSV to TXF file conversion tools available online.

While the downloadable version of TurboTax can import TXF files, neither the online version of TurboTax nor any version of TaxAct can make use of these files. TurboTax Online remedies this situation by providing for a convenient process to automatically import trade history directly from certain online brokers. Let's take a quick look at the process.

Direct Import Into TurboTax
Select to import trading history from a financial institution:

Select your broker from the list. I chose E*TRADE:

Enter your user name and password just as you would when you log in to your brokerage account:

And that's it. My trading history is now imported into TurboTax:

The reviewed brokers that are compatible with this feature are the following:
Note that to import data from Zecco, select Penson Financial Services as the brokerage, enter your account number as XX-XXXXXXXX for the user name and enter your social security # (without hyphens) as your password.
    Also note that some of the brokers do not import cost basis information. This is quite a hassle as users are then forced to manually enter this information for every imported trade.

    The list of compatible brokers is basically the same as two years ago and those that did not import cost basis information previously still do not this year.  It is too bad that TurboTax feels that they do not need to work to improve upon this feature.

    The following reviewed brokers are not compatible with this feature:

    Direct Import Into H&R Block
    H&R Block's web based tax software can also directly import broker tax information.  This includes the following brokers:

    Related Articles:
    Broker Commissions & Fees
    Broker Compatiblity
    Broker Wikinvest Compatibility