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Tax spreadsheet with formulas?
January 29, 2012 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Are US tax forms available as formula-based, linked Excel spreadsheets or Google Doc templates or something similar?

A couple of years ago I managed to pull together all my taxes on a series of linked spreadsheets. I entered all the formulas and data manually, and all the sheets fed into a 1040 form, so that it was all very transparent and easy to see the impact of any one input on the final amount due. (I think the only issues were with entering the tax due from the tables because the tax rate calculation is a little different than the amount you get from the table and some of the "if line is greater than line b" statements.) I had to then transfer all that onto the forms I submitted, but it made the whole process much more manageable. For the first time I felt like I understood why I was paying what I was paying and what I could do to change it.

I've used turbotax and its cousins and don't like the "black box" quality: you enter numbers and answer questions and it spits out a result, but you don't really understand the relationships between them.

It would be great if the IRS simply released the whole 1040 package as a set of linked spreadsheets, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon.

Is anything like this available on line, for example in a google doc template? I'm not referring to the static tax "organizers" that most accountants will give you where you fill in blanks but they don't actually calculate anything.

The only things I've found are this guy (though I can't get the download to function) and this (which is close, and I don't mind paying the $10, but I'd be happy with something even more bare-boned).
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
For 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040, I use Free Fillable Forms. Each form does all the math for you, and I think it even links forms (so if you have a Schedule B it will transfer the values to the correct place on the 1040), but I haven't done my taxes this year so I could be mis-remembering from last year. It also (AFAIK) doesn't do worksheets located in the instructions, and you have to look up EIC/tax tables yourself. But it does do all the math, which is a significant improvement over doing it by hand.

However, the W-2 isn't linked to tax forms, so if you have multiple W-2s you have to do that addition yourself.
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on January 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


The only things I've found are this guy (though I can't get the download to function)

Just tested the link. Seems to work fine for me.
posted by lampshade at 1:50 PM on January 29, 2012


You can use TurboTax in "forms" view instead of "interview" mode (or whatever they call it), and it works just like you describe.
posted by misterbrandt at 2:46 PM on January 29, 2012


RandlePatrickMcMurphy: "
Is anything like this available on line, for example in a google doc template?
"

I've gone a short distance down this approach. For what it's worth, you can upload spreadsheets to google docs, which I decided to do not too long ago to make spreadsheets accessible anywhere / redundant. I've made a budget template but it's limited in scope.

For the first time I felt like I understood why I was paying what I was paying and what I could do to change it.
I figure spreadsheets suffer from the same NIH syndrome that all software suffers from, such that it's easier to write your own spreadsheet than understand the logic of someone else's.
posted by pwnguin at 2:49 PM on January 29, 2012


OK I am doing my taxes right now (1040) and Free Fillable Forms does carry values between the sub-forms and Schedules. Basically everything except full W-2 integration (by that I mean you fill out the electronic W-2 when you are ready to file, unlike Turbo Tax where you fill out the W2 and it mines the values as needed).
posted by muddgirl at 2:49 PM on January 29, 2012


I may have underestimated whats the free fillable forms can do. I'll check it out. Thanks.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 3:25 PM on January 29, 2012


Update: The IRS free fillable forms are certainly an improvement over individual pdfs, but I found the process is not nearly as elegant and simple as the excel files here (once I got the download to work on a different computer). Also there are some concerns about information security with the IRS forms, if that's an issue for you.

I'd recommend the spreadsheets for anyone who wants to geek out a little and better understand the tax process, even if in the end you deliver all the information to an accountant to make sure you got everything right.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 5:24 AM on January 31, 2012


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