Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 1 NO. 4 / SPRING 1987

The START 1986 Tax Template


Now you can use your Atari ST to help you with your 1986 federal tax return. On the START disk is a folder marked TAX86.ST. It contains a template you can use with VIP Professional, the Lotus-compatible spreadsheet from VIP Technologies. Note: The template requires either a 1040 ST or a 520 with a megabyte of memory.

Like some help with your taxes? The VIP Professional template on this issue's START disk can help you with the following forms:
1986 IRS 1040 Long Form Schedule G (Income Averaging)
Schedule A (Itemized Expenses) Schedule W (Working Couples)
Schedule B (Interest and Dividends) Form 2441 (Child Care Deduction)


To use this template, you'll need an Atari ST with at least 1 megabyte of memory, a copy of VIP Professional and your official Internal Revenue Service 1986 tax instructions and forms. It's also helpful to have a printer, since it's easier to copy the figures from a printout than from the screen. If you've never used VIP Professional before, begin by studying the manual. It may take a little time to learn the ins and outs of using VIP Professional, especially if you're unfamiliar with spreadsheets, so don't wait until April 14th!


Spreadsheet programs are ideal for preparing tax returns. You provide the personal data, then customized formulas tell the program how to crunch the numbers.

Each data element or formula is entered in a spreadsheet cell- similar to the lines and columns on your tax form. As your data changes (you find another stack of receipts) go to the proper cell, add in the additional data, and your entire tax return will be recalculated.

START's 1986 tax template can be used for many different taxpayers -just save the original version on disk. It should take only about an hour to enter each individual's personal information, and you can save each tax template on disk under a different name.

As you fill in the spreadsheet, you'll need the 1986 IRS tax instructions and forms close at hand. The spreadsheet doesn't duplicate the tax forms exactly, and abbreviations are used wherever possible. But the template follows the IRS line numbers, so you won't get lost.

You will notice that some of the cells use the currency format, while others use the fixed format. Those in the currency format are formulas. Be sure to not type over these formulas, since this will ruin the calculations. As an extra precaution you might save a backup "unfilled-out" copy before entering any information onto your working copy.

Perhaps you're one of those taxpayers who must fill out forms that are not on the template. If so, you will have to fill out those forms manually, and enter the totals into the appropriate cell on the template. Once this is done your ST can add them in with the rest of the numbers that you've entered.

Once you've entered information into the spreadsheet, you're ready to print out the information. This can he done in three steps. First, calculate the template (press F9); it wouldn't make much sense to print out the information until you've calculated everything. Second, set the print range to cell Al through cell G280. Third, align your paper and press G for GO. Soon you will have almost all the information you need to copy onto your tax forms. I say almost because the template calculates virtually every line except the actual tax you owe. Putting all the tax tables into the template would chew up lots of memory. Instead, figure out your Net Taxable Income on the template, then just look up the matching Tax Table amount in your instruction booklet from the IRS as you fill out your actual 1040 paper form.

It is wise to save your work just in case you need to change something later. This is done with the File Save command. Again, we highly recommend you save your completed work under a different name.

Please examine your template results with great care. If you have any doubt about the accuracy of your findings, get advice from a registered tax preparer. Data entry mistakes and programming errors have been known to occur. START cannot be responsible for any mistakes that might be made in your tax payments as a result of using this template.