Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 12 / APRIL 1986




Antic's 1984 Federal Income Tax spreadsheet template was one of the most popular features we ever published. So we asked Contributing Editor Ken Harms to prepare a 1985 IRS template as soon as the year's tax information was finalized. Now you can do your '85 federal tax on your 8-bit Atari. Requirements are: minimum 48K memory, a disk drive and SynCalc spreadsheet software ($49.95, Broderbund/Synapse).

Some things are inevitable. Death, taxes-and Antic's annual Federal Income Tax spreadsheet template.
   This issue's type-in template-and monthly disk-includes:

   1985 IRS 1040 Long Form
   Tax Tables X, Y and Z
   Schedule A (Itemized Expenses)
   Schedule B (Interest & Dividends)
   Schedule G (Income Averaging)
   Form 2441 (Child Care Deduction)
   Schedule W (Working Couples)

   To use the 1985 template, you'll need an 8-bit Atari with at least 48K memory, a disk drive and SynCalc spreadsheet software ($49.95, Broderbund/Synapse). You'll also need your official Internal Revenue Service 1985 tax instructions and forms.
   You don't need a printer to benefit from this template. Just copy the figures from the screen to your printed IRS forms by hand. But if you do use a printer, SynCalc lets you enter control characters for creating special printout effects-such as boldface, underlines, double-width, boxes and arrows, page breaks, etc.

Five specialized additional schedules and forms-which couldn't fit into this month's Listing Section or Antic Disk-are also available on disk from the Antic Catalog by mail. See the advertisement elsewhere in this issue for details about ordering. The disk costs $15 and contains all forms published in this issue-plus these extras:
   Schedule C (Business Income & Expense)
   Schedule SE (Self Employment)
   Form 2106 (Employee Business Expenses)
   Schedule D (Capital Gains)
   Schedule E (Rents & Royalties)

   And if you can't find SynCalc at your local retailer, you can also purchase this software by mail from the Antic Catalog. This issue's advertisement for the template disk also explains a special SynCalc offer.

Even if you've never used SynCalc before, you should be able to work your way through the well-written manual in a few hours and learn enough to use the tax template. However, if you are a first-timer, you could be letting yourself in for unnecessary aggravation if you load in the spreadsheet and start working on your taxes without becoming familiar with SynCalc first.
   To look for any last minute fixes, changes, or new instructions on the template itself, log onto ANTIC ONLINE on CompuServe by typing GO ANTIC. And yes, your online time-charge for accessing tax preparation information is tax deductible! But please-phone Broderbund, not Antic, if you need help learning how to operate SynCalc.

You'll need the 1985 IRS tax instructions and forms close at hand. There isn't enough memory in the Atari to duplicate the forms exactly so abbreviations are used wherever possible. The template follows the IRS line numbers, so you won't get lost.
   Most of us would use the Tax Tables on pages 34-39 of the '85 IRS instruction booklet to figure out exactly how much we owe. Again, there just isn't enough room in your computer for all that information. So I use the Tax Rate Schedules on page 40- which are actually the formulas from which the detailed Tax Tables are created. Figure out your Net Taxable Income on the template, and then just look up the matching Tax Table amount as you fill out your actual 1040 paper form-you'll probably find that the template results are accurate within 5-10 of the Tax Tables, no matter what your taxable income Is.
   But please examine your template results with great care. If you have any doubt about the accuracy of the template findings, get advice from a registered tax preparer. Data entry mistakes by users and programmer errors (even by me) have been known to occur. Antic and the author can't take responsibility for any mistakes that might be made in your tax payments as a result of using this template.

Spreadsheet programs are ideal for preparing tax returns. You provide personal data such as income and deduction amounts. And then customized formulas can tell the program how to add, subtract and compute tax obligation from your data. The template in this issue does the necessary mathematics for calculating Federal Personal Income Taxes on the 1040 Long Form and the most widely used supporting forms.
   Each data element or formula is entered in a spreadsheet "cell" with an address-similar to the lines and columns on the tax form. As your data changes (you find another receipt, for example), go to the proper cell, type in that single piece of data, press [START] and your entire tax return begins to recalculate.
   PRESS 5 TIMES: Please note that SynCalc calculates by rows or columns-so this template must be calculated at least five times. Press [START] five times after changing any figure.
   The spreadsheet template in this issue can be re-used for many different 1985 taxpayers. Just retain a blank version on disk. Entering the personal data for a taxpayer should be the work of only an hour or so, for most returns. Save each individual's completed tax template on disk under a different filename.
   This template is narrow but quite long-nearly 250 rows (SynCalc fits only 255 rows) arranged in five columns. It starts with Form 1040. Below Form 1040 are Tax Tables X, Y and Z, Schedule A (Itemized Expenses), Schedule B (Interest & Dividends), Schedule G (Income Averaging), Form 2441 (Child Care Deduction) and Schedule W (Working Couples).
   These all fit on one single spreadsheet (although there are only about five rows to spare). Therefore, the totals from any calculation (income averaging, for instance) are automatically included in the 1040 Tax Due line. You don't have to type in any schedules or forms that you won't be using, the 1040 form will work without them. But if you type in sections that you later decide not to use, just don't enter any taxpayer data into those sections and they won't become part of the overall calculations.

Load your SynCalc disk into your Atari and format a blank disk for data, following the instructions in the SynCalc manual. Press [OPTION] and type the command LOAD/SAVE for the disk FORMAT command.
   (Antic Disk subscribers: You'll find this template on your monthly disk under the filename TAX1040.SC. However, you'll need to boot SynCalc into your Atari before you can load TAXl040.SC as a template file, following the instructions in the SynCalc manual.)
   In this article, I'm assuming that you're familiar with SynCalc. For instance, you should know how to start a command sequence by pressing [OPTION], how to move around within the spreadsheet, etc. Please consult your SynCalc manual when in doubt.
   Before typing anything in, set all column widths to seven-except column E, which should be set to nine. Set GLOBAL FORMAT to PRECISION 0 (to round off cents to the nearest dollar) and COMMA (to insert commas in numbers like 1,000). To speed up data entry, issue the command GLOBAL RECALCULATE MANUAL. Also, set calculation to ROWS.
   To simplify template entry, I've placed the IRS form line numbers in column A and the labels (text descriptions) in column B, with text overflow in column C. All figures and calculations are in columns D and E.
   While entering titles in columns A and B, set FORMAT JUSTIFY LEFT. When entering the numbers and formulas in columns D and E, set FORMAT JUSTIFY RIGHT.
   The template is separated into seven sections, one for each tax form, schedule, or table. Each section has two parts. Part A is the format setup-titles, labels, etc., with zeros [0] temporarily standing in for number and formula locations. Part B contains the formulas for that section.
   I'd suggest starting at cell Al and working down column A using SynCalc's automatic cursor movement. Then go to column B and enter the titles (some titles appear in column A on other forms). If a title extends past its column, just type it in-SynCalc's overflow feature handles the long material automatically. (But you need to erase each overflow cell manually if you move the title.)
   You might consider typing Part A of one section first, then Part B. And then test that section before proceeding to next section. Reading from the left, Part A of each section starts with the SynCalc row number. (DON'T type in these row numbers.) The tax form line numbers are under the dashes for column A. You must enter all numbers and formulas in the exact cells shown-otherwise the template won't work.
   Here's a data compression tip: SynCalc uses 16 bytes to store every number. Text entries take only four bytes, plus one byte per character. Unless you will use a number in a calculation, make it a text entry. On this template, all form line numbers must be text. Start each entry with a quote ["] or you'll run out of memory.
   The last step in Part A is to enter all the zeros and FORMAT $ the indicated cells. The zeros "hold open" the cells for formulas and values that will come later. All the zeros are in columns D and E. As you enter them, use this undocumented tip: the /K command toggles automatic cursor movement on and off! One more tip: In a SynCalc menu you can use the cursor arrows without holding down [CONTROL].

Now that the template format is typed in, use Part B of each section to type in cell formulas. The listing shows each cell address, followed by the entry. DON'T type the cell addresses- such as E169-shown in the first three or four spaces at the left. Instead, go to that spreadsheet cell and type in the formula, typing over the space-holding zeros you entered earlier. A formula element like E179 is not text-type it as "+ E179" so that SynCalc will know it's a numeric entry. As you enter each formula, protect it with a /FO (Formula Protect Entry) so you won't accidentally write over it.

Because this template pushes SynCalc to its limits, in order to get everything working properly you'll probably need to use at least some of the advanced spreadsheet operation techniques described below:
   The seven template sections barely fit onto a single spreadsheet. As you work on a template, SynCalc occasionally wastes a few cells and may give you the famous ERROR 100 NOT ENOUGH MEMORY message. If this happens, immediately SAVE the file- properly. Now ERASE memory with the /E# command and then reLOAD the file. This SAVE/ERASE/LOAD process automatically does the "garbage collection" to delete unnecessary entries.
   You'll need to pull a few tricks to squeeze in some of the longer cell formulas-such as the one in cell E71. First of all, don't type spaces between words. Even more important, leave out words like THEN, ELSE or LOOK-UP when you first type in the formula. Then press [RETURN] and you will get the SYNTAX ERROR message because of your missing words. Now go back and use the [CONTROL] [INSERT] keys to enter the missing words in their proper places. If you use this method, SynCalc lets you put an "illegal" number of characters into a cell. The final characters will be pushed off the screen, but they're still in memory. (There are limits, of course- don't insert more characters than you need to.)
   The next three paragraphs are primarily for experienced SynCalc users:
   The Tax Table formulas use SynCalc's absolute address braces, [ ] to COPY material to cells E74 through E78, and then edit the table references. There wasn't enough space to absolute the LOOKUP table.
   The following shortcut will cut typing time substantially: Enter cells E87 through E95 (or COPY and patch) and then COPY the entire block to E103 and then to E119. Be sure that the copied formulas refer to the correct spaces by moving the cursor to each cell and pressing [RETURN] to edit.
   Just for your information, the formula in cell E172 illustrates multiple IFs, each with multiple conditions. SynCalc allows linking many conditions by AND or OR. Always put the conditions between the IF and the THEN. Place the next IF after the ELSE. These linked IFs and conditions give you the logic power needed to handle almost any problem.

After the complete spreadsheet template is typed in correctly, SAVE a blank copy under a name like BLNKl040 before entering any taxpayer data. Calling up the blank will let you do returns for many different taxpayers-just SAVE each return with a different filename.
   Best of luck. Here's hoping that this year you get your biggest refund ever. And don't forget to deduct a portion of the cost of your computer, SynCalc and the tax template.

Broderbund/Synapse Software
P.O. Box 12947
San Rafael, CA 94913
(415) 479-1185
$49.95, 48K disk

Antic Contributing - Editor Ken Harms recently became president! CEO of MedicAlert after a lengthy tenure as Finance/Administration Vice President of the American Cancer Society California Division.

Section 1 part A
Section 1 part B
Section 2 part A
Section 2 part B
Section 3 part A
Section 3 part B
Section 4 part A
Section 4 part B
Section 5 part A
Section 5 part B
Section 6 part A
Section 6 part B
Section 7 part A
Section 7 part B