Feb 3rd 2012
By David H. Ringstrom, CPA
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Glenn Reeves of Burlington, Kansas, recently released his fifteenth annual spreadsheet-based version of the U.S. Individual Tax Return, commonly known as Form 1040. Since 1997, Reeves has pursued this "labor of love," which means he allows any taxpayer to download and use the spreadsheet for free.
Reeves' spreadsheet empowers tax payers to use their tax return spreadsheet applications, such as Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice, or Gnumeric Portable. As you can see in Figure 1, the form closely mirrors the official IRS format, but Reeves doesn't guarantee that the IRS will accept printed versions of the form. He personally files his return online after using the spreadsheet to compute his return.
Figure 1: Reeves has updated his Excel-based version of IRS Form 1040 for the 2011 tax year
The 2011 version of the spreadsheet includes both pages of Form 1040 as well as the following supplemental schedules:
- Schedule A – Itemized Deductions
- Schedule B – Interest and Ordinary Dividends
- Schedule C – Profit or Loss from Business
- Schedule D – Capital Gains and Losses, along with its worksheet
- Schedule E – Supplemental Income and Loss
- Schedule L – Standard Deduction for Certain Filers
- Schedule SE – Self-Employment Tax
- Form 6251 – Alternative Minimum Tax – Individuals
- Form 8949 – Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets
The spreadsheet also includes several worksheets:
- Schedule D Worksheet
- Line 10 – State and Local Income 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 44 – Qualified Dividends and Capital Gain Tax Worksheet
- Line 51 – Child Tax Credit Worksheet
Five additional worksheets round out the tool:
- W-2 input forms that support up to four employers for each spouse
- 1099-R retirement input forms for up to four payers for each spouse
- SSA-1099 input form to record Social Security Benefits
- A tax table
- Change log that records revisions to the spreadsheet
All of the worksheets in the 1040 workbook are password protected. Most of the underlying formulas are hidden, but you're free to add new worksheets to the file or create links to other workbooks. Reeves notes that the spreadsheet is constructed in such a fashion that proper use of the spreadsheet means a user won't need to access any of the protected cells. New this year, though, is the ability to add comments to the unprotected cells, which wasn't possible in previous versions. As shown in Figure 2, the spreadsheet also offers some limited error checking.
Figure 2: The spreadsheet offers limited error-checking prompts.
Although Reeves gives the spreadsheet away, he does accept appreciation contributions, which he reports on his tax return as income. He also donates 10 percent of any contributions to his church. Spreadsheet-based versions of Form 1040 are available for tax years 1996 through 2011 on Reeves' website.
- The Ins and Outs of New Reporting Rules in 2012
- Tax Preparers Who Prepare More Than 10 Returns Must Now e-File
David Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based spreadsheet and database consulting firm. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org, and consider attending one of his Microsoft Excel training webcasts presented by AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.