I’m done with my taxes. I mailed the returns last week. With taxable investments and selling stocks from vested RSUs and ESPP purchases, it can get complicated. Any help from the mutual fund companies and brokerage firms would be welcome.
In this post I will review the 1099 packages I received from different companies — Vanguard, Fidelity, Wells Fargo Advisors, and E*Trade — for their timeliness, level of details, and helpfulness for preparing taxes.
Vanguard (the mutual funds side) wins in timeliness. I received the 1099 forms from Vanguard in early January. But Vanguard also comes in last in the level of details.
The 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms from Vanguard just have the total numbers for each fund. There are no accompanying details that show how the total numbers are calculated. This makes it difficult to double-check the numbers to make sure they are accurate.
Because each fund is a separate legal entity with its own separate tax ID, I believe you have to enter the numbers separately rather than just entering the total across all funds. Downloading directly into tax software may help; I didn’t try.
Fidelity’s 1099 forms came in mid-January. Fidelity formatted the forms very clearly and most efficiently among the four companies I dealt with this year.
In addition to the total numbers, Fidelity also provided back-up details. If the 1099-INT form shows total interest earned as $356.72, the details part shows the date, the source, and the amount of all the interest payments that add up to $356.72.
You can see the level of details Fidelity provides from this illustrative guide.
Wells Fargo Advisors
Wells Fargo Advisors sent the 1099 package toward the end of January. Like Fidelity, Wells Fargo Advisors provided both summary and details.
The total dividends are broken down by investments, but not by date. For example Wells Fargo shows investment X paid dividends 4 times in the year for a total of $207.32 but it doesn’t list the 4 payments individually by date.
The investment sales are broken down into short-term and long-term, and by lots. If a sale involved multiple lots, Wells Fargo showed the date acquired, cost basis, and gain/loss for each lot.
You can see how Wells Fargo does it in the 1099 package from this PDF guide.
I use E*Trade only because my employer uses E*Trade for RSUs and ESPP. I don’t have many transactions there yet E*Trade was the last one to provide 1099s. I had to wait until late February.
E*Trade’s 1099 package isn’t as impressive as Fidelity’s or Wells Fargo’s. For the tiny bit of interest in the cash account, it did give a breakdown by payment dates. However, E*Trade didn’t provide any supplemental information for investment sales.
Overall, in terms of timeliness, level of details, and helpfulness of the 1099 tax form packages, I would rank Fidelity first, Wells Fargo a close second, Vanguard and E*Trade last.
Although I love Vanguard for its funds, Vanguard’s customer-facing operations side continues to lag the competition. Vanguard does what it’s legally required to do in providing the 1099 forms but it’s not doing anything extra beyond that.
If you have an account at Schwab or TD Ameritrade, please comment on how much details Schwab and TD Ameritrade provide in their 1099 tax form packages.