Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 10 / MAY 1989



START's 1988 Federal Tax Templates


Once again it's time to file those tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. Well, we can't help you pay your taxes, but we can sure help you figure them out correctly. On your START disk is template for use with Lotus 1-2-3-compatible spreadsheets, such as VIP Professional and LDW Power. If you have one of these programs and a megabyte of memory or more, you're all set to get your return in on time and avoid those penalties.

Get ready to buckle down and finish those tax forms, April 15 isn't far off! File TAX88.ARC on your START disk.

Tearing your hair out doing your taxes? Almost ready to hire a CPA? Before you go bald or broke, try loading our 1988 Tax Templates into a Lotus-compatiple spreadsheet program. These templates will help you prepare the following forms:

1988 Form 1040 (Long Form)
Schedule A (Itemized Deductions)
Schedule B (Interest and Dividend Income)
Schedule E (Supplemental Income Schedule)
Form 2106 (Employee Business Expenses)

Getting Started

START's 1988 Tax Templates require an ST or Mega with at least one megabyte of memory; a Lotus-compatible spreadsheet program, such as VIP Professional by ISD or LDW Power from Logical Design Works; your 1988 Form 1040 Forms and Instructions; and your START disk.

For further tax assistance there are a number of books available at bookstores and newsstand, or you can pick up a free copy of Publication 17,Your Federal Income Tax, from the IRS. You may also want to have a printer connected to your ST, so that you can print out your completed templates.

To get started, you'll need to un-ARC the START 1988 Tax Templates. Copy the files TAX88.ARC and ARCX.TTP from your START disk to a blank, formatted disk and un-ARC TAX88.ARC following the Disk Instructions elsewhere in this issue. When you're finished, you'll find the file named TAX88.WKS.

Now, start up VIP Professional, LDW Power or any other spreadsheet program that can accept Lotus .WKS spreadsheet templates. Load in TAX88.WKS and you're ready to begin.

Spreadsheets and Taxes

Spreadsheet programs are sophisticated calculation tools, ideal for preparing tax return. You provide your income, expense and exemption information by entering them into the spreadsheet and then built-in formulas instruct the program how to crunch the numbers. But the sophistication of a spreadsheet program means that it has a wealth of commands and formats. Don't leave learning how to use one until the last minute and then try to learn it as you do your taxes.

Each piece of information is entered in a spreadsheet cell--similar to the lines and columns on your tax forms. We've already derived and included the formulas you'll need. If your data changes (you find another stack of receipts, for instance) go to the appropriate location, change the number there to correct figure and the relevant portions of your tax return will be recalculated.

START's annual Tax Templates are a proven aid in the long hours
spent calculating your yearly income tax. The 1988 version works
with any spreadsheet program that will accept Lotus .WKS templates.
START's annual Tax Templates are a proven aid in the long hours spent calculating your yearly income tax. The 1988 version works with any spreadsheet program that will accept Lotus .WKS templates.

Many different taxpayers can use the same tax template. If you're using LDW Power, for example, you can save your own template out to disk under the name MYOWN.LDW and then reload the blank template for your brother to use. He can then save his to disk under the name BROTHER.LDW, and your aunt can then use the blank template.

Keep your IRS Forms and Instructions booklet nearby while you're preparing your taxes. While we have identified every line on the template with the line number from the forms, we couldn't include all of the notes, references and cautions on the original forms. You'll need the instructions to decide how to treat some of your income and expenses.

If you need to complete forms that are not a part of this template, you'll have to complete them manually and then transfer your figures from them into the spreadsheet. The program and template can take over from there.

You'll have to compute your own tax; we just couldn't include all the Tax Tables and Tax Rates without ballooning the size of the template substantially. Once you've completed Form 1040 down to line 37, Taxable Income, follow the instructions from the IRS to calculate your tax and enter it on Line 38.

When you have completed your template and arrived at a correct figure for Line 62 or Line 65, save your template to disk. Then, follow the instructions that came with your spreadsheet program to print out a copy. For example, LDW Power comes with a utility that lets you print spreadsheets sideways, enabling you to fit wider printouts on a page. See the appendices to the LDW Power manual for directions. Remember that the IRS will not accept your printed spreadsheet in lieu of completed forms; you'll have to manually copy the figures onto your official return.

As with any complex and important project, be sure to save your work often. Think of the fun you'll have if you haven't saved your work and your dog knocks the computer power cable from the wall at 11:30 p.m. on April 15!

Examine your results with great care. If something doesn't look right check your figures carefully and if you can't find any errors, seek the advice of a professional tax preparer. The most common errors reported by the IRS are incorrect data entry and arithmetic errors. To the extent possible, we've included formulas that will make correct calculations, but you're responsible for entering your information correctly. Note: START cannot be held responsible for any mistakes that might be made in your tax calculations as a result of using this template.

Andrew Reese is the Editor of START and a former attorney and tax preparer. Tom Chandler is an accountant in the San Francisco Bay Area.


VIP Professional Ver. 1.2, $149.95. ISD Marketing, 2651 John St., Unit 3, Markham Industrial Station, Markham, Ontario, Canada, L3R 2W5, (410) 479-1990.

LDW Power, $149.95. Logical Design Works, Inc. 780 Montague Expressway, Suite 205, San Jose, California 95131, (408) 435-1445.