What is Quicken?


Quicken is a financial management program developed and distributed by Intuit. In addition to standard financial management functions such as bill sorting, investments organization, and printing expense reports, Quicken also allows users to write checks, pay bills online, and interface with many online banking websites. Users can budget their funds, calculate gains and loses, and have reminders set to emphasize dates on which paper bills must be paid. Another notable feature is Quicken's synchronization interface with tax preparation software such as TurboTax. As both Quicken and TurboTax are developed by Intuit, data transfer between current versions of the programs is seamless. Both Quicken and TurboTax are available for the Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Quicken is available is several different versions, for different use scenarios. The basic version is designed for those who intend only to organize current bank accounts. This software has checkbook balance functions, budget management, and Internet billpay features. The Deluxe version adds to that planning functions, for instance, to plan a home purchase or retirement fund. Additionally, the Deluxe version has tax planning features and can track IRA accounts. The Premier version includes all the features of the Basic and Deluxe versions, and adds portfolio analytics, investment performance reports, advanced tax reporting, and capital gains tax minimization strategies. A slimmed-down version of Quicken, called Pocket Quicken, is available for PocketPC PDAs. This program has basic data-entry and reporting facilities. Other versions of the software, such as Quicken Home and Business and Quicken Kids and Money, are developed for more specialized environments and often do not include all the features of Deluxe or Premium.

Intuit has angered many users of Quicken in the past by removing features of the software in upgraded versions. For instance, Quicken traditionally used the free QIF file format for downloading data from financial institutions. Quicken 2005 removed this functionality, and replaced it with QFX. QFX is not free, as Intuit licences the format to banks for a monthly fee. This fee is in turn passed on to the consumer, who typically pays between three and ten dollars a month for QFX access to their account. To avoid licensing fees, many banks choose not to support QFX at all, making automatic account updating impossible. Although older versions of Quicken could still be used to access an account via QIF, once a system is upgraded to QFX it cannot be downgraded again to QIF compliance.

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