Any Income Tax specialists? How to use Excel to report stock option sales and purchases?

Posted on 2011-10-05
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Last year my Schedule D-1 was close to 30 pages, or 700 transactions.
All done by hand with a pencil.
People say use a spread sheet.

Won't that still require manual entering of all the data?

It takes me about an hour per page, so over 30 hours to complete my return.
I've used Excel a few times and have had some problems.

1. I try to enter a word or a number in the space, and the program moves the number or word, to the left side of the cell or the right side or leaves it in the middle, and not necessarily where I need it.
2. I want to enter 210.24 in the "cell" and when I do, it is shown on the left side of the cell when it needs to be on the right, or I need it in the middle.
3. Dates. I want May 3, 2011 and it changes it to 3May 2011.
Or I want 5-3-11 and it changes it to May 3. Some dates are changed and some are not.

I know Excel can add the columns, but if that is all a spread sheet can do for me as far as my tax return, it really would not be much of an advantage.


As far as you being a tax specialists, some say I do not have to report all option transactions individually. I may be able to report them as one.
Example: Bought 3 IBM options in January, 2 in April, 6 in July, 4 in December. That's 4 transactions. Some people say they can be listed as a purchase of 15 IBM options in one transaction.

I've called the IRS two times and spoke to 4 different agents and still have no clear answer at all. One said that on stocks you have to list each one individually but on options there might be different rules.

One agent asked me if I was a day trader and I said that according to the rule, 3 day trades within a 5 day period, I am not a day trader. Then he asked me if I was a trader or investor. That question made no sense. An investment can be short term and it could be one day, a week, or a few months.

If the tax code was changed to a flat tax the whole schedule D would disappear.
My tax owed does not change regardless of the numbers on Schedule D.
So, really I am just filling it out for the benefit of who looks at my return.
If there is a big loss, it does not change my tax due, and if it is a large gain it does not change my tax due. Just used to report the sales.
Question by:nickg5
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    There are a few tricks you can use in Excel to speed up data entry. Personally, I find it much quicker to type in a spreadsheet rather than writing something. I can type about 5 times faster than I write.

    1. By default, Excel moves words to the left, and lines up numbers on the right in a cell. If you want to move the word to the right of the cell, click on the "align right" button. First of all, you need to make sure that your toolbars are showing: Click on "View", then "Toolbars". Make sure "Standard" and "Formatting" are checked. If not, click on each one.

    2. If you need a number aligned on the right (along with other numbers), simply click on the button that looks like a comma while the cell is highlighted. You can highlight many cells and do this as well. If you want to get rid of decimals, simply click on the "decrease decimal" button, whick is the button with the three small zeros on it, with the arrow pointing right. If you want a dollar sign, simply select a cell (or cell), then click on the currency button (dollar sign).

    3. To change the way dates appear, select the cell(s) you wish to change. Then choose Format from the main menu, and choose "Cells". Click on the "date" category, and choose the format you want.

    Excel is a very robust spreadsheet tool. To take advantage, you need a bit of training (or a lot of time to just play with it). It can do much more than just add a few numbers. I use it to keep track of my budgeting, business miles, travel and meal expenses, and keep it in an easy to read format. Graphing functions are also very good.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Go on don't give up. When the penny drops you will see what a powerful tool excel is.
    LVL 25

    Author Closing Comment


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