Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
When will the newly updated Federal Income Tax Spreadsheet be available?
Typically, each new updated spreadsheet is available around January 15. Sometimes, sooner.
Is this spreadsheet safe to use?
Absolutely! This spreadsheet is constructed using only cell equations and formatting. No macros or other 'code' are used. This spreadsheet is not capable of causing any harm to your computer or sharing your personal information. It's just a spreadsheet. The only hyperlinks are to spreadsheet 'sheets' or to well-known places such IRS.gov, PayPal.com, etc.
Can I print the spreadsheet out to submit to the IRS, or do I need to copy these over onto their forms?
The IRS publishes rules about what computer generated sheets need to look like. Although I try to make the sheets look like the real ones, I have made no specific attempt to comply with any IRS rules. I, myself, have printed the sheets and have sent them in without problem. However, I cannot say that you will have the same good luck. Now, I use my own spreadsheet to calculate my Federal income tax return and then submit my return electronically using a free filing service.
I've encountered a protected cell. What is the password to unlock the spreadsheet?
No password is needed. When using this spreadsheet, you may encounter protected cell warnings. If you find a data entry cell to be protected, it is because it is a calculated value using input from another location in the spreadsheet. Read the instructions for that line to determine where the values are derived. However, for most calculated cells, a manual override cell is provided if you need to override the calculated value. After a while, you will figure out that the spreadsheet is completely functional without needing to unprotect it.
In most cases, protected data entry cells are darker blue. Unprotected data entry cells are white or light blue.
Why doesn't the 1099-INT handle my savings bond interest?
See pages 7 through 11 of Publication 550. Because the rules related to savings bonds are so complicated it is beyond the scope of my spreadsheet. Hopefully, you'll be able to review the publication and determine how to report income from your particular savings bond and associated circumstances.
Where do I enter information and amounts from 1099-MISC?
The instructions for Form 1099-MISC are very complicated. The form has yet to be implemented on this spreadsheet. Refer to IRS Form 1099-MISC and associated instructions:
Instructions for Form 1099-MISC may be downloaded from the IRS:
Form 1099-MISC may be downloaded from the IRS:
Why is it that the tax listed in the Tax Table for a given taxable income and filing status does not exactly match the amount I get when I calculate the tax using the 'Official Tax Rates'?
For taxable incomes of less than $100,000, you are required to use the Tax Table. The tax listed on the Tax Table is for the mid-range amount between the “At Least” amount and the “But Less Than” amount.
For example, using the 'Official Tax Rates' for a filing status of 'Single', calculating the tax on a taxable income of $70,733 yields a tax of $11,178.26. However, the 'Tax Table' calculation uses a taxable amount of $70,725. The tax amount is $11,177.
My spreadsheet performs the calculation of every single amount listed in the Tax Table using the 'Official Tax Rates' formulae using the mid-range amount. All of the amounts listed in the spreadsheet have been electronically verified against the amounts in the official IRS Tax Table.
Form 1040, Line 4b, Taxable Amount, is showing the correct amount; however, Line 4a, IRA Distributions, is blank. Why doesn't the spreadsheet show an amount for Line 4a?
The General Instructions for Form 1040, Line 4b, IRA Distributions, reads:
"Except as provided <in Form 1040 General Instructions>, leave line 4a blank and enter the total distribution (from Form 1099-R, box 1)
on line 4b...."
Form 1040, Line 5b, Taxable Amount, is showing the correct amount; however, Line 5a, Pensions and Annuities, is blank. Why doesn't the spreadsheet show an amount for Line 5a?
The General Instructions for Form 1040, Line 5b, Pensions and Annuities, reads:
"If your pension or annuity is fully taxable, enter the total pension or annuity payments on line 5b; don’t make an entry on line 5a...."
When using the Tax Table in the 1040 instruction book, why does the Tax Table indicate that my tax should be higher than the spreadsheet indicates?
On the Form 1040 sheet, cell AJ68, you will find how your tax was calculated. If it says “Cap Gain TW” or “Sch. D Tax WS”, then you’re a winner! The spreadsheet saved you money by using a tax worksheet that you might have otherwise overlooked.
NOTE: As always, be sure to check the spreadsheet and its calculations against the actual IRS forms and your own calculations.
Does this spreadsheet support electronic filing?
No. Electronic filing is beyond the scope of this spreadsheet and, most likely, way beyond my ability.
Is there any way to electronically migrate my information from an older to new version of the spreadsheet?
No. However, most people report that it does not take very long to re-enter their information when migrating to a new version of the spreadsheet. Please be careful when using copy and paste. (See below. Always use Paste Special, Values.)
Is it okay to paste data in from other spreadsheets, etc.?
Pasting data into this Excel spreadsheet can cause undesirable cell property changes. For example, pasting can cause normally unprotected cells to become protected. Also, pasting can create links to closed or missing spreadsheets. The small benefit gained by pasting is not worth the large problems it can cause.
If you still really want to paste data, use Paste Special, Values. Doing so will not change cell properties but will not always work when merged cells are involved.
After pasting data into the spreadsheet from other sources, I find that the cell is now protected and cannot be unprotected without a password. What can I do now?
To fix a cell that has been inadvertently protected due to pasting, copy (Ctrl-C) another unprotected cell from the spreadsheet and paste it (Ctrl-V) into the damaged cell. (This does not always work. You may need to start again using a new copy of the spreadsheet.)
How can I save this spreadsheet in the LibreOffice format?
Users of this spreadsheet tell me they save it as a LibreOffice spreadsheet by performing the following steps:
When opening the spreadsheet using LibreOffice, I encounter a "Too Many Columns" warning message. Will the spreadsheet still work?
The "Too Many Columns" warning message is the result of a known compatibility issue between LibreOffice and MSExcel.
Reports are that the spreadsheet will work after the warning message is acknowledged
When opening the spreadsheet, I encounter a "Too Many Cell Formats" error message. What can I do?
Because I upgraded my computer and because the "Too Many Cell Formats" error was limiting my ability to maintain the spreadsheet, I was forced to upgrade to MSExcel 2010. This version of MSExcel resolves the "Too Many Cell Formats" problem, but is not always compatible with older versions.
I love this spreadsheet. What can I do to increase the chances that it will be available next year, too?
Be a tester. Take the spreadsheet for a test drive. Compare the words on the spreadsheet to the actual IRS forms and enter in data to test every condition. Report any problems to: email@example.com.
Send money! While the spreadsheet is truly a hobby and labor of love, receiving money for it feeds my ego. It keeps me wanting to do it again and again. (Since 1997!)