Computers And Finance

Computers have made financial bookkeeping much easier, and people no longer have to spend hours tracking investments or pay someone else to do their taxes. Moreover, the advancement in technology has allowed governments to cut back on the number of big companies and employees hired to process tax returns, resulting in the saving of millions of dollars. Although these advancements are extraordinary, they are not without their shortcomings. The IRS has had increased trouble in tracking fraudulent tax returns, and has had to revamp its detection system.
The most surprising part of Microsoft\'s current purchase of Intuit, the maker of the Quicken line of personal finance software was not the $1.5 billion price, which was fifty percent over the market value (Schlender 14). It was not even the fact that Bill Gates, America\'s richest entrepreneur, is in a position to become America\'s richest banker (14). The most surprising thing was that it did not happen earlier (14). For years Gates has had a dream of putting "electronic commerce at the core of personal computing," and now he finally has the software to accompany that dream (14). His idea includes a "Wallet PC" that can be carried around with people at all times (14). Microsoft believes that it can provide what executive VP Mike Maples refers to as a "whole new value chain" that will allow customers to interact by modem with banks, insurance companies, pension funds, etc. (14). Quicken is already being used by six million people to pay bills, manage credit, write checks, and handle taxes (14). For those of you scoring at home, it has 5.2 million more users than Microsoft\'s Money software (14). That is a prime reason that Gates basically wanted to give up the product and donate it to his competitor Novell (14).
Programs such as Quicken are excellent for keeping track of what is spent at home, but can be a big hassle for keeping track of the money spent on business trips (Baig 20). One way to solve the problem would be to carry a notebook computer with Quicken on it, but as Edward Baig states "It\'s just not practical to boot up a laptop each time I step out of a taxi" (20). Intuit has released Pocket Quicken, a "Quicken Lite" for those who carry around digital assistants to help alleviate that problem (20). Pocket Quicken is built into the new Hewlett-Packard 200LX palmtop, the Tandy/Casio Zoomer PDA\'s, and the AST Gridpad 2390, but is not sold as a separate product just yet (20). Eventually this will also be available on the Motorola Envoy (20). Pocket Quicken allows users to categorically follow expenditures such as food, gas, and rent by creating checking, credit card, and cash accounts (20). Pocket Quicken lets travelers sequester what is spent into areas such as trip, client, project, or class (20). People can share data with regular Quicken with the HP 200LX\'s $119 optional cable and software package, or with the $30 addition to the Zoomer (20). However, Pocket Quicken does have its shortcomings because it does not allow for the set up of budgets or the following of investments (20). It also does not compute net worth or tax summaries, and does not have all the graphs with which Quicken comes equipped (20). If Pocket Quicken is not of interest, another option would be to record expenditures at the end of each day (20). Yet, another possibility would be QuickXpense for Windows from Portable Software (20). This program allows users to work with the exact expense form they would like to use because many of the forms from large corporations have been previously loaded into the program (20). Another of its qualities is that if a specific company\'s form was not included, they will put it on a disk for customers if they send blank copy of the form to Portable Software (20). All entries are entered the same as Quicken, but this program will also figure mileage cost for driving, convert foreign currency, and catalog each type of expense included on hotel bills (20). QuickXpense will also let the user know when it is time to file an expense report (20).
Computer and technology outsource companies typically handle the dirty work behind tax collecting; however, with the