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The tax season is well and truly upon us. It is time to count the pennies and disclose exactly how much you made, as well as how you earned it.
Calculating the right amount of tax is essential. It can also be difficult. With that in mind, I’ve tracked down three Microsoft Excel tax calculators to ensure you don’t miss a single penny.
I’ve made every effort to ensure these tax calculators work as they should—and they do—but your taxes are your responsibility. These tax template spreadsheets just help you on the way.
Let’s start with one of the most comprehensive calculators. Tax calculator creator Glenn Reeves has been updating and distributing his custom Excel template for well over a decade—always for free.
Reeves meticulously updates the template for each tax year, including all recent changes. Furthermore, Reeves keeps an up-to-date changes list, so you know exactly where the template has changed.
It is comprehensive. Reeves’ tax calculator spreadsheet includes all the forms you would expect, such as your W-2s, 1099-R, SSA-1099, and 1040. Also, Reeves has developed separate worksheets for almost every calculation, as well as including the numerous tax schedules.
You can see why Reeves’ meticulous planning and template structure win so many plaudits!
As you would expect, Reeves protects the workbook sheets to prevent unwanted changes. You can unlock the sheets and tinker if you wish, but this could result in an inaccurate tax return. I would suggest leaving the document protection in place—at least until you’ve made your tax calculations.
The spreadsheet essentially walks you through your federal income tax calculation which, let’s face it, can be a literal nightmare.
Finally, Reeves’ develops and maintains his amazing tax calculator spreadsheet for free. He does accept donations for his time, though. Reeves’ says they “feed his ego” and encourage him to continue the labor of love each year. You can take comfort in the knowledge that Reeves’ reports all of his donations and even donates some to his local church.
To use Glenn Reeves’ tax calculator, head to the Spreadsheet Download page, download the relevant year, and fire it up in Excel.
Taxvisor produces a tax calculator every year and has done so since the 1990s. The Taxvisor Income Tax Planning Spreadsheets come with an installer, which is slightly odd.
However, after first installing the Taxvisor executable in a virtual machine, I can confirm it is legitimate and will cause your system no harm.
Taxvisor has four worksheets: Single Filing, Joint Filing, Married Separate Filing, and Head of Household Filing. The four sheets all feature a list of Federal tax parameters specific to each tax return.
Taxvisor also features a handy legend detailing your income, taxes owed, remaining taxes owed, and of course, your tax summary information. Like Excel1040, Taxvisor’s worksheets are protected to stop unregulated tinkering that could lead to an inaccurate return.
Overall, Taxvisor is easy to use. It doesn’t offer the massive range of additional worksheets and tax schedules included with Excel1040, but the simpler, much cleaner design aids focus. Likewise, there may not be super detailed instructions, but each input has a minute tool-tip quickly detailing what the box use is. But don’t let the simplistic approach fool you. Taxvisor is still a fully featured tax calculator.
Important Note: When you are installing Taxvisor, the default file path is
C:/My Documents but Windows 10 doesn’t use “My Documents” anymore, it’s just “Documents.”
3. Make Your Own Federal Income Tax Spreadsheet
You always have the option of creating a personal federal income tax calculator spreadsheet. First, there are a few Excel formulas to learn:
Read more about what these Excel formulas do and how to use them properly. As a quick example, you can use VLOOKUP to find and return values in a tax table, while you can use ISPMT to calculate the amount of interest paid on your outstanding loans.
Also, handy for building your own income tax calculator spreadsheet is the IRS 1040 Tax and Earned Income Credit Tables [PDF].
However, these only cover tax reforms and structures.
If you contribute to a Roth IRA, for instance, you need to know the specific contribution limit for your tax status: IRS Roth IRA Limits. The same is true for student loan payments and interest, and so on.
Also, individual states have specific tax laws. Double-check local tax specifics using the FindLaw State Tax Law finder.
The IRS provides a comprehensive Tax Topic Index covering the major tax questions. The IRS website search function is useful, but as with government sites, it returns a lot of information. You may well have to do some sifting to find precisely what you need.
As with all things tax, it is highly likely another citizen has asked the same question!
Don’t Let Taxes Tax You
Taxes don’t have to be taxing. It happens every year, whether we like it or not, and paying tax is central to a functioning society.
Planning is the key to success. Keeping receipts, pay-slips, and statements in a single place will reduce your stress no end come April. And remember, you do have to pay taxes on earnings from sites such as eBay or Craigslist, as well as your cryptocurrency profits. As Ben Franklin had said,
“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
The two templates provided are extensive. Excel1040 and Taxvisor will turn a tax nightmare into a dream so long as you have the correct information to work from. Please remember that these are only calculators. You still have to file your return!