Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 2 NO. 5 / SPRING 1988

Taxes The Easy Way

1987 tax forms for VIP and A-CaIc


Now you can use your Atari ST to help you with your 1987 federal tax return. On the START disk is a file named TAX87.ARC. It contains two templates-one for use with A-Calc Prime and one for use with VIP Professional, the Lotus-compatible spreadsheet from VIP Technologies. Note: The VIP version of the template requires either a 1040 ST or a 520 with a megabyte of memory.

You'll find the templates mentioned in this article in the file TAX87.ARC on your START disk.

Like some help with your taxes? The tax templates on this issue's START disk can help you with the following forms:

1987 IRS 1040 Long Form
Schedule A (Itemized Expenses)
Schedule B (Interest and Dividends)
Schedule E (Supplemental Income Schedule)
Form 2106 (Employee Business Expenses)
Form 8582 (Passive Activity Loss Limitations)

To use this template, you'll need an Atari ST, a copy of VIP Professional or A-Calc Prime and your official Internal Revenue Service 1987 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 a spreadsheet before, begin by studying the manual, it may take a little time to learn the ins and outs, so don't wait until April 14th!

The templates are on your START Disk in the archive file TAX87.ARC. Copy this file and the program ARCX.TTP to a fresh disk. Double-click on ARCX.TTP, and in the box that comes on the screen, type the filename TAX87.ARC and press the Return key. The disk will spin for a minute or so, and when it's finished you'll find the tax templates on the disk. If you are using VIP Professional, use the file TAX87.WKS; if you have A-Calc Prime, use the file TAX87.SPD.

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 1987 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 1987 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. 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, following the instructions in your spreadsheet manual. Using the tax template will give you 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.

Here's hoping this year's tax preparations are the easiest ever!

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Tom Chandler is one of Antic Publishing's Retail Account Representatives.


  • VIP Professional GEM 1.2, $149.95. VIP Technologies, distributed by ISD Marketing, 2651 John St., Unit 3, Markham Industrial Park, Markham, Ontario, Canada; (416)479-1880.
  • A-Calc Prime, $59.95. Antic Sofware, 544 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 957-0886; (800)234-7001.