Free Microsoft Excel-based 1040 form available
By David H. Ringstrom, CPA
Just in time for tax season, Glenn Reeves of Burlington, Kansas has created a free Microsoft Excel-based version of the 2008 U.S. Individual Tax Return, commonly known as Form 1040. The spreadsheet includes both pages of Form 1040, as well as these supplemental schedules: 
- Schedule A – Itemized Deductions
- Schedule B – Ordinary Interest and Ordinary Dividends
- Schedule C – Profit or Loss from Business
- Schedule D – Capital Gains and Losses, along with its worksheet
- Schedule SE – Self-Employment Tax
- Form 2441 – Childcare and Dependent Care Expenses
- Form 6251 – Alternative Minimum Tax – Individuals
The spreadsheet also includes several worksheets:
- Line 10 – State and Local Tax Refund Worksheet
- Lines 16a and 16b – Simplified Method Worksheet taxable annuities and pension benefits
- Lines 20a and 20b – Social Security Benefits Worksheet
- Line 32 – IRA Deduction Worksheet
- Line 42 – Deductions for Exemptions Worksheet
- Line 44 – Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet
- Line 52 – Child Tax Credit Worksheet
- Lines 64a and 64b – Earned Income Credit (EIC)
Six additional worksheets round out the tool:
- W-2 input forms that support up to 4 employers for each spouse
- 1099-R Retirement input forms for up to 4 payers for each spouse
- SSA-1099 input form to record Social Security Benefits
- A tax table
- Earned Income Credit table
- Change log that records revisions to the spreadsheet
All of the worksheets are password-protected, and most of the underlying formulas are hidden, but you're free to add new worksheets to the file, or create links to other workbooks. As you can see in Figure 1, the form exactly mirrors the official IRS format. The protection also means you can't add comments to cells within the forms, or make notes out to the right.
Figure 1: Glenn Reeves created an Excel-based version of IRS Form 1040
The spreadsheet also includes some basic error-checking features, as shown in Figure 2, as well as hints, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 2: The spreadsheet contains basic error-checking prompts.
Figure 3: In some cases the spreadsheet offers helpful tax-planning hints.
The spreadsheet's author clearly states that the spreadsheet is available for free, but he does accept appreciation contributions. As you might expect for someone so intimately familiar with U.S. tax law, Mr. Reeves will report all contributions as income, but will also donate 10 percent of any proceeds to his church.
This free spreadsheet enables just about anyone to use Microsoft Excel to prepare and print their entire 1040 return. Along with the actual forms, the spreadsheet includes some IRS documentation, as well as links to download official IRS forms and instructions. Excel-based versions of Form 1040 are available for all years from 1996 through 2008. In addition, the 2008 format is also available in Open Document Format, which is compatible with the free Open Office suite.
The spreadsheet is available at www.excel1040.com. 
About the author
David Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org