I first had to pay taxes years ago (OK, four years ago) when I was a junior in college. Before that time, students were more or less exempt from the annual ritual unless they were used as tax shelters by too-wealthy parents (i.e. I didn’t have to worry about that problem). Then all of a sudden, as is so common with proclamations from the IRS, it was decided that students, or anyone over 14, I think, who earned more than $400 had to pay taxes on it. I was incensed, not because I expected to have to pay much of anything, but because I had to fill out the forms and their byzantine instructions (Subtract the value on line 23 from the lesser of the two values on lines 17 and 43, and multiply the result by the number of parrots in New Guinea during the rainy season. That sort of thing.). Although I’ve always done well on tests of all sort (except college Chemistry tests, but that’s another story), I’m fairly bad at following directions. I’ve always gotten by on just figuring out what answer goes where, and usually ended up looking foolish on those tests in high school where the teacher includes in the instructions that you only have to answer odd-numbered questions. I was petrified. Luckily, scanning the nets one day, I came across a shareware program called 1040 Share-Tax, or something like that, from Bammel Software in Texas. It only ran on PC-clones, but at the time I had a PC emulator for my Atari 1040ST (aha, to judge by the model number, the IRS has infiltrated Atari. No wonder the machine did so poorly!). So I downloaded all 300K of the program on my 1200 baud modem (not a pleasant task) and checked it out. Joy and rapture, it really could do my taxes! So that first year I typed in all the numbers that the program asked for and hoped that I wasn’t missing anything. I paid my $20 shareware fee with pleasure, but avoiding ordering the tractor-feed forms the company sold as well – I was still a poor student even if I had earned more than $400. So I printed the draft out, sat down with a pencil, and copied everything over, checking to make sure the program hadn’t made any grievous errors, which it hadn’t.
The years rolled by, and even though Share-Tax did the job, I decided to switch to a Mac program, since I had moved to the Mac exclusively. Testing the 1990 version of MacInTax for this review, I’m reminded of how primitive Share-Tax seems now, but I also remember that the main reason to use a tax-preparation program is to avoid having to do all the calculations, something which Share-Tax did fine.
Originally, the decision about which Mac tax program to buy was trivial since there was only one, MacInTax. This year MacInTax has been joined by ChipSoft’s TurboTax, but from what I’ve heard of TurboTax, MacInTax doesn’t have much to fear yet. Softview knows it owns the Macintosh market, as evidenced by the subtitle on the manual’s title page: "The Income Tax Program." Still, it doesn’t seem as though Softview has let its popularity go to its corporate head, considering its ever-growing number of tax-preparation products (Softview publishes a whole line of tax-preparation products for individuals and businesses) and its forays into the Windows market. So anyway, on with the show…