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Your guide to contenders in the den of new equity

Issues Direct is a new issues information service operating via the internet. The service works by giving details of upcoming flotations to members. Issues Direct is neither a broker nor a sponsor for share issues so its information is impartial. Members can read the information on flotations and print off application forms. The service will send out an alert to its members by email when there are new issues on the site.

A simpler alternative is to visit Barclays Stockbrokers' homepage. The site provides a basic list of upcoming flotations, both confirmed and speculative. There is not much detail there but anyone with internet access can view the list.

n Issues Direct, www.issuesdirect.com; Barclays Stockbrokers, www.barclays- stockbrokers.co.uk

Talking tax

Saving tax - and dealing with those dreaded self-assessment forms - is the focus of Interactive Investor's new tax centre. The first section deals with self-assessment tax returns. Anyone who has not yet completed this year's forms should take a look, as there is just over two months left to send in returns and avoid penalties.

For net users who are up to date with their tax affairs the site has some helpful suggestions on tax planning. It covers six ways to cut the tax burden, including capital gains tax, inheritance tax and property taxes.

Interactive Investor also provides detailed general information on the tax system in the "knowledge bank" area.

n Interactive Investor Tax Centre, www.iii.co.uk/tax

No email, no charge

Freecheck is a new internet service that promises to save money for net users - as long as all they want to do is check their email.

The service claims to operate with all existing internet mail accounts, from both paid for and free internet providers. Freecheck's unique feature is a system that only charges net users for going online if there is mail waiting. If there is no mail, there is no charge for the call.

Despite BT's price cuts, the minimum charge for a local call is still 5p, so it is easy to see the appeal of Freecheck. If you do have mail or want to use the net to visit websites, then there is no cost saving from using Freecheck. Heavy net users should look at the ISPs offering reduced rate or free internet calls, including ClaraNet, Freeserve and Cable & Wireless.

n FreeCheck, www.freecheck.net

n Stephen Pritchard can be contacted at: Hi-tech-investor@dial.pipex.com