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Taxes for Traders



MTrader Class (C) copyright MTrader

March 16, 2004
by Robert Green CPA of

[09:27] <KenWolff> welcome bob..
[09:27] <rgreen> thanks Ken and hello
[09:27] <KenWolff> we can start anytime you are ready Bob...
[09:28] <KenWolff> thanks for giving us some of your time... during tax season..
[09:28] <rgreen> Welcome all, let's start now
[09:29] <rgreen> text in your tax questions and let's focus on trader and investor tax issues
[09:29] <sanctus> can i ask a rather basic tax question?
[09:29] <rgreen> do most of you qualify for trader tax status - business treatment?
[09:29] <sanctus> what are the quals.?
[09:29] <rgreen> have most of you elected mark-to-market accounting IRC 475 for "tax loss insurance"
[09:30] <rgreen> yes, ask any questions you like
[09:30] <sanctus> nope
[09:30] <rgreen> Say yes or no if you are filing a Schedule C for 2003 taxes to report your trading business expenses
[09:30] <sanctus> a trader has hundreds, thousands of trades, must each buy and sell be entered in a spreadsheet for the IRS or is there a simpler way acceptable?
[09:30] <rgreen> yes, you can report one line item per broker
[09:31] <rgreen> and not all the trade details
[09:31] <rgreen> use our examples guides to see how
[09:31] <rgreen> use our GTT TradeLog software to calculate your gains and losses
[09:31] <d> you have an example?
[09:31] <rgreen> and then attach the GTT TradeLog report to your tax return, or leave it off
[09:31] <rgreen> we have done one line reporting per broker for over 20 years
[09:31] <rgreen> and never had a problem
[09:32] <sanctus> "leave it off" means???
[09:32] <rgreen> the examples are here
[09:32] <rgreen> you don't have to even attach our GTT TradeLog report and can "leave it off"
[09:32] <rgreen> just reconcile total sales to your Form 1099 so the IRS doesn't ask questions
[09:32] <rgreen> then enter the profit or loss you are certain of from your accounting
[09:32] <sanctus> i see just post the results that your software produces and IRS is happy
[09:33] <rgreen> then plug the cost basis number on Schedule D for the difference
[09:33] <rgreen> Say CyberTrader trading ac 1234 - details available on request
[09:33] <rgreen> make sure to account for wash sales if you don't have mark to market accounting IRC 475
[09:33] <rgreen> our GTT TradeLog software calculates your wash sales for you
[09:34] <rgreen> yes, IRS is fine with one line item reporting and remember, they see your Form 1099 list of all securities proceeds transactions
[09:34] <sanctus> right
[09:34] <rgreen> 1099s leave lots out, so you need good accounting on your own, unless you only trade commodities and futures
[09:34] <rgreen> commodities and futures are reported on 1099 line 9 aggregate profit and loss and that one number is entered on Form 6781
[09:35] <sanctus> but your GTT software will assist with that "good" accounting
[09:35] <rgreen> but all other types of traders don't get their profit or loss from the 1099
[09:35] <rgreen> securities traders just get sale proceeds not purchases and it doesn't account for wash sales or opening and closing positions
[09:35] <rgreen> options traders just get proceeds and purchases in supplemental information from some brokers but not all.
[09:36] <rgreen> single stock futures and currencies are usually left off the 1099 entirely
[09:36] <rgreen> not sure what you mean sanctus. Yes, our accounting is good and proper
[09:36] <rgreen> text in more questions
[09:36] <rgreen> show of hands, how many people have trader tax status and don't - text yes tts or no tts
[09:37] <KenWolff> any red hot areas that might draw an audit we should be watchful about bob??
[09:37] <Electron> yes tts
[09:37] <carol> no tts
[09:37] <sanctus> no tts
[09:37] <rgreen> yes, the IRS audits traders more now especially since many botch their tax return reporting
[09:37] <calyx> no tts
[09:37] <drknight71> no tts
[09:37] <sanctus> darn
[09:37] <calyx> but will '04 and will MTM
[09:37] <rgreen> see
[09:37] <rgreen> we have an entire new section in our Law & Benefits guide on IRS exams and how to prevent them and win them
[09:38] <sanctus> Mr. Green, i meant your GTT software will asssist me in making my accounting "good" right?
[09:38] <rgreen>
[09:38] <rgreen> if you are a part time money losing trader with MTM ordinary loss treatment and get large refunds, the chance of IRS exam is higher
[09:38] <calyx> bob, i am using your GTT product for '03 and I'm going nuts trying to get it to match with my 1099B from my broker. How close do they need to be before a flag is raised?
[09:38] <rgreen> how many traders here are part time - text in yes pt or no pt
[09:39] <carol> no pt
[09:39] <sanctus> no pt
[09:39] <calyx> no pt
[09:39] <dan409> no pt
[09:39] <rgreen> the reason GTT TradeLog might not reconcile to your 1099 is because you may have option sales in GTT TradeLog which are not included in securities proceeds on your 1099
[09:40] <rgreen> call Dave Eich of GTT TradeLog for free tech support to help reconcile
[09:40] <d> pt
[09:40] <rgreen> if you get audited by the IRS contact us ASAP
[09:40] <Electron> no pt
[09:40] <calyx> thank you
[09:40] <rgreen> we can educate the IRS about you trader tax status and have them "recon" the exam, that means reconsider it and retract it - which means they close it even before it happens
[09:41] <calyx> how often are broker's 1099b's wrong?
[09:41] <rgreen> we won several IRS exams like this recently
[09:41] <d> pt = part time? you need to have ather job, to be np?
[09:41] <rgreen> another way to get yourself audited is to report your losses incorrectly and directly on Sch C. Lot's of traders and even CPAs make this mistake.
[09:41] <rgreen> There are lots of filing nuances so get our examples guides - one for securities and another for commodities, futures and currencies
[09:42] <rgreen> first order of business for traders is to get trader tax status - even after the fact now for 2003 before you file
[09:42] <rgreen> you can even amend tax returns for the past 3 years to fix them for trader tax status and get refunds
[09:42] <rgreen> but MTM mark to market accounting must be elected by 4/15 for the current tax year "in advance". So for 2004 elect by 4/15/04
[09:43] <rgreen> if you elect MTM and then don't have trader tax status, don't worry you can't use it anyway
[09:43] <rgreen> plus you can use MTM on trading positions only and "segregate" investment positions to get tax deferral on long term positions
[09:43] <rgreen> and then the lower long term tax rate up to 15% on those long term investment positions
[09:44] <rgreen> broker 1099s are usually right and come from the same system that generates monthly statements
[09:44] <rgreen> but some brokers make errors in tax treatment.
[09:44] <rgreen> for example Interactive Brokers has had several errors over the years
[09:44] <rgreen> IB left out commissions one year
[09:44] <rgreen> This year it's something else, but I forget off the top of my head
[09:45] <rgreen> It is wise to use our TradeLog family of trade accounting products to check your monthly statements and 1099s
[09:45] <calyx> IB is who i'm using and my year end statement total gross does not match the 1099b so i think they messed up, thank getting them to help you, is the other challenge
[09:45] <sanctus> does your firm offer a service whereby a trader hands over all statements and you do basically all the work? aproximate fee for a daytrader?
[09:45] <rgreen> download a free trial version of the TradeLogs and take a tour here
[09:45] <rgreen> Barron's said GTT TradeLog is the best program for traders several years in a row.
[09:46] <rgreen> Two great Barron's reviews of GTT TradeLog in 2004 see
[09:46] <calyx> (I'm not a plant) the software is excellent guys and will save you in the long run on expensive accounting time
[09:46] <rgreen> download all your trades into GTT TradeLog and then import the results into TurboTax
[09:47] <rgreen> If you have another job besides trading, or another business activity, then you are part time and the qualification for trader tax status bar is raised by the IRS
[09:47] <rgreen> Explain your qualification and why you can be a business part time trader on your tax return in the footnotes
[09:47] <rgreen> we give you footnote examples in our examples guides
[09:48] <rgreen> if you don't explain it, you can increase your chance of IRS questions or exam (audit)
[09:48] <rgreen> yes, our firm can do everything for you
[09:48] <rgreen> we can do the GTT TradeLog accounting work for you. It takes about one hour per brokerage account. We charge $125 per hour for one of our CPAs on this work.
[09:49] <rgreen> for GTT TradeLog accounting work see
[09:49] <_francacourelli> do you have to re-explain your status to them every year, or just the first year of MTM filing?
[09:49] <rgreen> We also can prepare your entire tax return, that is our main business. See
[09:49] <calyx> good question, ya?
[09:49] <rgreen> Trader tax returns, including full federal and state returns and spouse etc cost around $650 if you have trader tax status
[09:50] <rgreen> if you don't have trader tax status, then we share the pain and the same service costs around $400
[09:50] <rgreen> see for our investor tax prep services
[09:51] <rgreen> thanks, yes our software saves time, helps check your broker and when we prepare your returns it cuts down on our tax prep fees.
[09:51] <rgreen> you don't explain your trader tax status when you elect MTM, you just elect it. You file a Schedule C which means you have business status (trader tax status)
[09:52] <rgreen> you explain trader tax status and all the rules in the footnotes since most IRS processors and agents are not familar with the rules and this nips questions in the bud
[09:52] <rgreen> plus if you are parttime the footnotes explain that as well.
[09:52] <rgreen> the footnotes also explain some special GTT filing strategies
[09:53] <rgreen> like transferring some trading gains from sch D or Form 4797 (if MTM) to Sch C to unlock home office and 100% depreciation expenses
[09:53] <rgreen> this transfer is a great strategy, but you must do it right, so no questions are asked
[09:53] <rgreen> home office is a great deduction for most traders
[09:53] <rgreen> but home office deductions are only allowed if you have business income
[09:54] <rgreen> Schedule C expenses wind up with a Sch C loss, so there is no income
[09:54] <_francacourelli> that's what I meant to ask---do you have to explain in footnotes each year or just the first, if nothing has changed from previous years?
[09:54] <rgreen> Only by making the transfer from D or 4797 to C do you create the income on Sch C to free up these deductions
[09:54] <rgreen> but only transfer enough trading gains (no investment gains are allowed) to "zero out Sch C,"
[09:55] <rgreen> If you show a gain on Sch C the IRS may look for self employment taxes (SE taxes), even though traders are exempt from SE taxes on trading gains
[09:55] <rgreen> yes, when you file a trader tax return, you are including trader tax return explanation footnotes every year
[09:56] <rgreen> But once you elect MTM the first year, you don't elect it again in the following years, unless
[09:56] <rgreen> unless you exit the trading business and then re-enter it
[09:56] <rgreen> Don't forget MTM is a two step process
[09:56] <rgreen> first you elect MTM by 4/15/04 for 2004
[09:56] <rgreen> and second you file a Form 3115 Change of Accounting Method with your 2004 tax return in 2005 (and a duplicate copy to the IRS National Office)
[09:57] <rgreen> All you need for MTM elections and Form 3115 examples are in our guides
[09:57] <rgreen> keep texting in questions, thanks
[09:57] <rgreen> home office deductions require exclusive use of a room in your home for business purposes.
[09:58] <soishe> is it true that you must have at least 500 trades/yr and have at least 1 trade per wk to qualify as a daytrader?
[09:58] <rgreen> Then take the square footage of that room versus the entire home for the business percentage
[09:58] <calyx> are all tax preperations done through you, done over the phone and email, or do you have person to person meetings?
[09:58] <rgreen> Then apply that percentage to all "indirect expenses" for your home like utilities, rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance, cleaning, security, lawn care, the works!
[09:59] <rgreen> yes, we are a virtual firm and it works great. Clients like email records of their questions and answers so there is no confusion. You mail, fax and email your papers. It's faster, cheaper, more efficient and you don't have to leave your trading desk
[09:59] <rgreen> Read about our virtual process here
[10:00] <rgreen> and here
[10:00] <rgreen> we do meet our clients at Online Trading Expos in Vegas, New York City and Chicago. A few clients visit us in NYC or otherwise. One you go virtual, you won't go back - it's great.
[10:01] <rgreen> Yes, the number of trades you have is a big factor is determining if you have trader tax status or not
[10:01] <calyx> how do you inform clients of time being charged for your services?
[10:01] <rgreen> There is no fixed number of trades of other objective tests for trader tax status
[10:01] <rgreen> We like to see several trades per day every or almost every trading day
[10:02] <rgreen> Other factors are if you run the trading activity like a business
[10:02] <rgreen> you must trade frequently, continually, substantially and not have any sporadic lapses in trading
[10:02] <rgreen> taking off for vacations or other good reasons is ok
[10:02] <rgreen> but trading for only a few months during the year is a problem
[10:02] <rgreen> holding periods should be very short, days to a week or more, but not months
[10:03] <rgreen> time spent in your trading business should be almost half of every day and not one hour per day
[10:03] <rgreen> expenses for tools and services should be serious and not close to nothing
[10:03] <rgreen> Your intention is key but hard to document
[10:03] <rgreen> your intention should be to make profits from quick swings in price and not long term price appreciation
[10:04] <rgreen> if you are shorting stocks or trading commodities and futures, it's hard for the IRS to argue you are investing for long term price appreciation
[10:05] <rgreen> we send clients detailed invoices showing our time and we keep them informed. We don't want surprises and upset clients over billing. That leads to losing clients, the last thing we want
[10:05] <rgreen> We want long term relationships. If our time is higher then quoted, we cut our hourly rates to get the fees down. We aim to please
[10:05] <rgreen> We always like the tax savings results to make you tons of money and for our fees to be a fraction of the savings - so in a sense Uncle Sam is paying us not you
[10:05] <calyx> hmm
[10:06] <rgreen> For more information on our fees, quotes and retainers, see
[10:06] <rgreen> keep texting in your questions, did I miss any?
[10:07] <rgreen> how many of you have a trading entity like a LLC or S-Corp or otherwise. Text in yes entity or no entity
[10:07] <carol> no entity
[10:07] <catman> yes entity
[10:07] <rgreen> test
[10:08] <rgreen> another firm recommends entities for all traders but that is a rip off. Don't spend thousands with them on entities unless you need one
[10:08] <rgreen> you need one for a retirement plan and health insurance deduction
[10:08] <rgreen> you don't need an entity for trader tax status and business deductions.
[10:08] <rgreen> An entity can increase your chance of IRS exam, not decrease it as this other firm states.
[10:09] <rgreen> The reason you need an entity for a retirement plan and health insurance is because
[10:09] <rgreen> because you need to create earned income for these deductions and trading gains are not earned income
[10:09] <rgreen> the entity pays you a administration fee which is earned income
[10:10] <rgreen> Again, show of hands, who is interested in entities - text interested in entities or not interested in entities
[10:10] <rgreen> If I overlooked your questions, please text it in again
[10:10] <Electron> yes entities
[10:11] <rgreen> For retirement plans, we like the Mini 401k plan and the new Mini Defined Benefit DB plans. You can sock away up to 41k in the Mini 401k and 165k in the Mini DB plans. You get a tax deduction on that entire amount
[10:11] <rgreen> So 41k or 165k deduction times your maginal tax rate of up to 35% federal plus state is some nice tax savings
[10:11] <rgreen> On the flip side you owe SE taxes on the fees you pay yourself
[10:12] <rgreen> SE taxes are 15.3% up to the first 87k and 2.9% unlimited afterwards.
[10:12] <rgreen> You save more in income taxes then you pay in SE taxes
[10:12] <rgreen> plus income taxes are "bad" and SE taxes are "good" or better.
[10:13] <rgreen> SE taxes help pay you social security benefits after age 65 plus you get Medicare, which can pay for bypass surgery and other every expensive things you will need for your health
[10:13] <rgreen> For examples of the savings with retirement plans see
[10:14] <rgreen> You can also trade your retirement accounts like a business, but stay out of the following trouble
[10:14] <rgreen> ERISA and tax rules limit your trading in retirement plans
[10:14] <rgreen> We wrote a great article on trading your retirement plans for Active Trader and Fidelity Investments used it for their next Active Trader newsletter
[10:15] <rgreen> see for this article
[10:15] <rgreen> speaking of health insurance, do you all have it
[10:15] <rgreen> text in yes have hi or no hi
[10:15] <calyx> yes hi
[10:15] <rgreen> A great new way to get low cost "group rate" health insurance is in our new GTT Alliance for Traders
[10:16] <rgreen> Read about our GTT Alliance for Traders here
[10:16] <calyx> interesting
[10:16] <rgreen> Please join our Alliance soon. The more traders we have, the better rates we can negotiate on health, life and disability insurance and much more
[10:17] <rgreen> did I miss any questions, text in more as well, thanks
[10:17] <rgreen> what kind of entities do you have? LLCs, single member LLCs, S-Corps, C-Corps, general partnerships?
[10:18] <rgreen> C-Corps are a very bad idea - double taxation and losses are trapped in the entity and not deducted on your individual return, where you could get tax refunds right away
[10:18] <calyx> if you were to take on a new client for tax preperation, how liable are you for their past tax accounting?
[10:18] <rgreen> Has any filed for a net operating loss NOL carryback refund claim. Text in yes nol or no nol
[10:19] <rgreen> when we sign up new tax prep clients, we are only liable for the tax returns we prepare, not old ones
[10:19] <calyx> yes
[10:19] <rgreen> if you want us to review an old return, we can tell you if you can file an amended return for refunds
[10:19] <rgreen> but if an amended return generates a tax bill, you can skip that, we don't force you to file one
[10:19] <rgreen> we have 11 minutes left, text in some more tax questions
[10:20] <calyx> so, to get started, $500 retainer?
[10:20] <rgreen> if you need help with trader tax status - the key to unlock all the other trader tax benefits consider a 15 minutes consultation for $65
[10:20] <rgreen> sign up for consultations here
[10:20] <bosco> i worked until may 03, then started trading , would i be able to get trader tax status
[10:21] <rgreen> yes, new trader clients retainer is $500, but $400 if you are upgrading from a consultation or if you bought our bronze package of guides
[10:21] <rgreen> New investor clients with no trader tax status have retainers of $300 and upgrades of $250
[10:21] <rgreen> if you buy our guides and later sign up for preparation, you get a credit for the guides, since they come free with preparation
[10:21] <rgreen> Preparation clients get login access to the guides, mag articles and other resources
[10:22] <calyx> gotcha, just trying to get an estimate ahead of the clock starting, if I were to use you
[10:22] <rgreen> entity formation clients pay a retainer of $400 and get login access to that section
[10:22] <rgreen> The TradeLog software has many price points this year. So if you have 300 or 1000 trades only, you pay much less.
[10:23] <rgreen> yes, if you stopped work in mid 2003 and started trading full time (or even part time), you can have trader tax status for a "part year."
[10:23] <rgreen> we have part year examples in our examples guides
[10:23] <rgreen> you take your Sch C business expenses for the period of the year you were in business only
[10:25] <rgreen> We strive for the $650 fee for traders and $400 fee for investors.
[10:25] <rgreen> 5 minutes left any more questions
[10:25] <rgreen> there are tax differences between securities and commodities/futures and currencies
[10:25] <calyx> still $650 if we do our own GTT importing?
[10:25] <rgreen> see the key differences here
[10:26] <rgreen> yes $650 if you import your own trades, but it can be closer to $550 if you are very well organized and use our e-organizer to send us your tax info
[10:26] <rgreen> we import the e-ogranizer into our Lacerte software and can e-file afterwards
[10:26] <rgreen> securities include stocks, stock options, ETFs, mutual funds and bonds
[10:27] <rgreen> securitites are taxed with capital gains rates. Short term rates are ordinary rates up to 35%.
[10:27] <calyx> at what point can a client "turn back" from using you if it appears it might not be a good match? what hapens to the upfront retainer?
[10:27] <rgreen> long term rates are up to 15%, but securities traders rarely hold positions for 12-months for the long term rates
[10:27] <rgreen> commodities and futures are 1256 contracts and they have 60/40 treatment, lower tax rates
[10:28] <rgreen> the blended 60/40 tax rate is 23%, 60% up to 15% and 40 up to 35%
[10:28] <rgreen> currencies (forex and interbank) are ordinary gain or loss under IRC 988, but you can elect out of 988 for 1256 60/40 treatment, which is a good idea
[10:29] <rgreen> learn about everything we discussed today in the GTT Tax Center at
[10:29] <rgreen> GTT powers the Tax Centers for CyberTrader, TerraNova, ETRADE Professional, OptionsXpress, MarketWise and others like mTrader
[10:30] <KenWolff> thanks Bob...
[10:30] <rgreen> a client can stop using us anytime they want. If you cancel after signing up for the retainer, we do charge you for our guides, since you get those free with retainer.
[10:30] <rgreen> If you want to use us one year and try to do your returns on your own the next year, that's fine too
[10:31] <_scorpio> Hello Robert, do you have anything to say about foreigners that trade in the US Markets?
[10:31] <calyx> ok, thank you very much
[10:31] <rgreen> you can also work with us to review your tax return
[10:31] <rgreen> use our software to download your trades, then import into Turbotax and then email us your turbotax file
[10:32] <rgreen> we can fix your turbotax file or convert it to our professional Lacerte software, also owned by Intuit.
[10:32] <rgreen> we aim to please and work with you however you like
[10:32] <_scorpio> I see.
[10:32] <rgreen> self help with our guides and software
[10:32] <rgreen> consutlations for trader tax status, review your tax return, entities and much more
[10:32] <calyx> and about how much would you estimate that path to cost?
[10:32] <rgreen> or full tax prep and entity formation services
[10:32] <rgreen> also we have a full line of hedge fund services
[10:33] <rgreen> if others ask you to trade their money, you need to stay clear of trouble with the states and SEC
[10:33] <rgreen> if you trade for others and get compensated you may need to register as an investment advisor
[10:33] <rgreen> in CA, if you have one paying client for investment management, in a partnership or otherwise, you must register as a RIA in CA
[10:34] <rgreen> we can form your hedge funds with our law firm and then do the accounting, audit and tax work with
[10:34] <rgreen> We have excellent attorneys in GreenTraderLaw and contact us whenever you need legal help
[10:34] <KenWolff> you have any bailbonds guys??
[10:34] <rgreen> sign up for one hour to review your tax returns and consult you on many other issues. That costs $225
[10:35] <sanctus> thanks alot, major help!!!
[10:35] <rgreen> Ken, do we need to stop now after the one hour? How long are we scheduled for?
[10:35] <rgreen> Did I miss anyone's questions?
[10:35] <KenWolff> you can go as long as you like..
[10:35] <sanctus> yea we need to hang on every word of Greenspan coming up
[10:35] <rgreen> just see some new posts, so will read and reply now
[10:35] <sanctus> hopefully not hang
[10:35] <KenWolff> we don't have jobs and no one cares where we are or what we do
[10:36] <rgreen> no bailbonds guys on staff but our lawyers can arrange if you need
[10:36] <sanctus> except my wife who would prefer i start shoveling
[10:36] <KenWolff> LOL
[10:36] <calyx> bob, is a retainer necessary for the turbotax review idea?
[10:37] <rgreen> Well I guess we finished the hour ok and since no more questions, thanks all for inviting me.
[10:37] <KenWolff> thanks bob!!!
[10:37] <rgreen> Please come to our weekly PalTalk voice text chat sessions every Thursday at 4:15 - 5:15pm ET, unless you have a more important class at mtrader
[10:37] <KenWolff> appreciate your time..
[10:37] <rgreen> use our Message Boards
[10:38] <rgreen> We will give VIP service to all mtraders, so sign up soon
[10:38] <rgreen> Still plenty of time left to help with 2003 taxes
[10:38] <rgreen> ken, please prepare a text archive of this session for your site and our site
[10:38] <rgreen> thanks all and good luck with your taxes
[10:38] <KenWolff> OK>. will do Bob
[10:38] <KenWolff> I plan to put this on our site..
[10:39] <rgreen> We aim to cut your tax bills, get you bigger and faster refunds, save you headaches and keep you out of trouble with the IRS.
[10:39] <rgreen> We have been doing this well for over 20 years!
[10:39] <catman> Thanks for the info
[10:39] <calyx> I'm in; thanks bob
[10:39] <Gimmie> thank you for the informative class !!!
[10:40] <rgreen> Also make sure to catch my monthly articles in Active Trader, SFO and Futures magazines
[10:41] <Gimmie> ok.. will do.. thanks !  




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