Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 10, NO. 3 / MARCH 1984 / PAGE 151

The Tax Advantage. (evaluation) Arthur Leyenberger.

The Tax Advantage

Yes Virginia, there is a tax program for the Atari computer and it is a good one. Quality software for the Atari is finally appearing. By quality I mean software that is easy to use, intended for the nontechnical user and free of bugs. The Tax Advantage from Continental Software is certainly such a product, and it is geared for the home user.

The Tax Advantage can assist you in preparing the following schedules for your federal income tax: A (Itemized Deductions), B (Interest and Dividend Income), C (Profit/Loss from a business or profession--Sole Proprietorship), D (Capital Gains and Losses), E (Supplemental Incoms from rents, royalties, etc.), G (Income Averaging), and SE (Self Employment Social Security Computation).

Forms 1040 and 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization) are also available. In addition to preparing these forms, Tax Advantage will allow up to three Schedule Cs for three different businesses and up to three properties on Schedule E for rent and royalty income. If you have a printer (highly recommended), the Tax Advantage can print the forms as well aas the itemizations that make up any particular line item.

Many printers are automatically compatible with the Tax Advantage since it includes the printer control codes necessary for their operation. If your printer is not one of the supported printers, you can easily supply the ASCII printer control codes needed, and the program will do the rest. If you do not have a printer, the Tax Advantage is still very useful. Instead of printing the forms, you must copy the information from the screen.

There are several helpful and clever families. Another feature allows to itemize up to 30 items on just about any line item is especially useful for two-income families. Another feature allows you to display at any time during your session 1) the currently computed adjusted gross income, 2) the tax liability based upon that adjusted amount and 3) your tax bracket. This feature is invoked simply by pressing the letter T and operates regardless of the completeness of your current 1040 form. Checking these numbers as you proceed through your session should reveal an ever-decreasing tax liability as you enter deductions and credits. Another valuable feature is the ability to enter numbers temporarily on any line of the form to determine instantly the tax consequences.

The 1040 Form is divided into ten screens with line numbers matching those on the form itself. The screens are easy to read, and each contains a maximum of nine double-spaced lines. The function menu is always visible at the bottom of the screen. Paging forward and backward through the screens is straightforward, and it is quite easy to add to, change, or delete an entry.

Itemizing And Calculating

The Tax Advantage really shines when it comes to itemizing and calculating. Just about any line may be itemized, and when completed, the total of the itemizations appears on the correct 1040 line, indicated by an I. All calculations are made after each line entry so their effect on your tax may be seen immediately.

The Tax Advantage is written in Basic A + (OSS), but there is no need to own A + since it comes with the package and is automatically invoked. However, you cannot use A + separately. Since the program is written in Basic, program execution is not blindingly fast. However, the speed is not a handicap.

I have only one disk drive, so I must perform numerous disk swaps between the Tax Advantage program disk and my data disk. A two-drive system would save considerable time.


More than one tax return can be completed with the Tax Advantage. The only requirement is that each return must use a separate disk. The program requires 48K of RAM memory and at least one disk drive. Included are an 85-page user manual housed in an attractive blue binder, the program disk (two sides are used), and a warranty card which, when mailed with $10, will give you free updates to the program for a year.

Close reading of the manual suggests that these updates concern the program for the current tax year. However, another super bonus item is that once you have spent your money for the 1983 tax year program (don't forget, it is tax deductible), you can purchase next year's program at half price. That is a real deal.

Let me remind you that this program will not automatically prepare your tax return, nor will it find all of those great deductions. It is a powerful tool for you to use in preparing your income tax return.

How many times have you made a simple arithmetic error on your return and not found out about it until the IRS sent you a computer printout? How many times have you finished spending hours preparing your tax return with schedules and subschedules, only to realize that you forgot to include a certain deduction or an additional source of income? You then had to throw out all the figures and start over again, right?

Alternatives And Corrections

These are the kinds of problems that the Tax Advantage eliminates. Using this program will not necessarily save you time, nor will it save you money, per se. And it does not obviate the need for good record keeping throughout the year and a systematic approach to this dreaded annual chore. What it does do is give you the flexibility to look at alternatives in preparing your tax return and to correct any omissions or errors before you file the return.

This is the second year I have used the Tax Advantage on my Atari computer. The first year (1982) I used it, was the first time in many years that I did not make an arithmetic error on my return. It was also the first year I was in business for myself. I successfully used the Tax Advantage to prepare and print the almost 35 pages of forms and supporting documentation required by the IRS.

The current version of the Tax Advantage is almost identical to last year's version, the major difference being the now there is an interface to Continental's popular Home Accountant program. The Home Accountant may be used throughout the year to itemize expenses. When the Tax Advantage is used, the itemized expenses that have been saved in the Home Accountant may be accessed.

The Tax Advantage is also available for other computers, including the IBM and Commodore 64. Kudos to Continental Software for a job well done. The Tax Advantage is a winner.

Products: Tax Advantage (Computer program)