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Australia's 'e-tax' Windows Only 478

Posted by timothy
from the don'tcha-love-single-source-providers dept.
Kinky Bass Junk writes "As the need to submit tax returns is looming, notification emails are sent out to users of the tax office's services. This year, the Australia Tax Office (ATO) is using a web-based tax return system, as well as the traditional paper based systems. The e-tax website has all the details, and the requirements of the software stand out: 'e-tax is not compatible with Linux or Apple Macintosh computers. However, if you have suitable Windows Emulator software installed, you may be able to use e-tax.' Here is a protest email I have set up for those who disagree with this."
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Australia's 'e-tax' Windows Only

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  • by no-one-important (657013) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:43AM (#13024956)
    I was hoping that was a tax on windows... oh well.
    • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:56AM (#13025009) Homepage Journal
      They're really talking about sharp, pointy tacks, to remind users of the hell they are in.
    • by bmgoau (801508)
      I know im going to get modded as a Troll for this *sigh*

      But seriously, why does anyone care, im for cross platform software as much as anyone. And I can see the relevance of this issue if we were dealing with a common day usage piece of software, but we are talking about a tax system that gets used once a year.

      I understand the governments position in the issue, that by providing for windows they are providing for the larger portion of citizens with computers, whether we like it or not.

      Im sure with some m
      • by Trejkaz (615352) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:20AM (#13025551) Homepage
        Of course, they wouldn't need to port the program if they made it truly web-based in the first place.
      • by Gyarados (893032)

        If people don't take a stand towards such lazy developers, they will only continue to make single-platform software.

        Considering there are plenty of viable solutions for cross-platform development available, I don't think there is any excuse for making single-platform software anymore.

        The only possible exceptions would be for applications which require unusually fast processing, and for games.

      • by NotZed (19455)
        It's important because it forces an extra fixed cost (a 'tax' if you will) to everyone who might want to access it.

        The driving factor of using an online tax system is that it saves the cost of having to go through an accountant and/or the time required to post a physical letter (let alone actually pick up the tax forms from somewhere, which seems to change every year).

        This route is closed to those not already using a platform based on a convicted illegal monopoly (well, in other places, Australia seems to
      • I understand the governments position in the issue, that by providing for windows they are providing for the larger portion of citizens with computers, whether we like it or not.

        But you see, a government should aim to provide for all the people, not just a proportion of them, even if that proportion happens to be a majority. And - should a government decide to introduce an etax system - it should design a system that is as user-friendly and extensible as possible. Have you seen the crap that they use??
  • by Colonel Panic (15235) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:44AM (#13024961)
    Perhaps this is a tax on Windows users. Linux & Mac users need not worry about paying it.
  • by ron_ivi (607351) <.moc.secivedxelpmocpaehc. .ta. .ontods.> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:44AM (#13024963)
    for keeping the US economy strong. It's nice to know that when anyone pays a tax in Austrailia, they also pay a tax to Redmond to keep our economy here alive.
  • Protest.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Just protest is not enough, I feel. The rights did not come for ladies, for handicapped access and many other until they moved to court.

    This is not expected from federal agencies. Seriously.

  • by bobinabottle (819829) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:47AM (#13024976)
    e-tax has been windows only for years. I use a mac and have Virtual PC installed so it works fine. In fact, I think it's the only thing I use Virtual PC for.
  • by Cantide (743407) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:47AM (#13024977)
    "Sorry, I can't pay my taxes, I run OS/2"
  • The protest (Score:5, Informative)

    by dysprosia (661648) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:51AM (#13024989)
    You can apparently read the first paragraph of the protest here [freemm.org]:

    Today I come to you with a sincere request, that should appeal to the self-confessed geeks, and to the socially aware. The Australia Gov't hosts a service known as e-tax to submit your tax return through the Internet, this service has been widely heralded as a success. However, this does not apply to everyone; the educated minority of the Internet world often choose to use alternative operating systems, such as Mac OS or Linux, this software makes claim that you must use an emulator, should you choose to use these OS's. If you know anything about software emulation, you know that it is a difficult task, and one that is preferably avoided. My request is as follows: send an email similar to the one in the furthur text, at the address given, and phone up to register your disgust at this clear favour to global monopolies.
    • Re:The protest (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The "educated minority"? Gee anyone who uses Windows is uneducated. Great. What a way to get your word out.

      Perhaps you should take your "minority" and realize that the government is trying to do its best to serve the "majority". Make more sense to me, likely a better use of taxpayer money. Personally I use OS-9? Can you please support that too?
    • Re:The protest (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HD Webdev (247266) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:02AM (#13025199) Homepage Journal
      the educated minority of the Internet world often choose to use alternative operating systems,

      "The sort of thing not to say when protesting 101"
    • Re:The protest (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LS (57954) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @08:05AM (#13025830) Homepage
      "self-confessed geeks"

      Hmm, no sooner way to get your email deleted then starting it with this.

      You might as well send an email to them saying your are a "self-confessed knit-o-holic", and that you want them to start sending out tax forms that can be embroidered.

  • Give us the source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lasindi (770329) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:55AM (#13025005) Homepage
    Why doesn't the Australian government provide the source code to the public? I'm sure that there would be plenty of programmers willing to port the program to other platforms.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      Yah!! Someone finally made the Free Software argument. Jesus we're slow these days. How can a government ever justify not releasing source code to the public? It's developed with public funds, therefore we own it. It's not made for profit, therefore there's no economic case for keeping it secret. For all we know there could be glaring bugs in this software (there was in the version that came out last year) and we'll be unable to fix them before submitting a tax return (meaning we'll be responsible for
      • by novakreo (598689) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:32AM (#13025274) Homepage

        For all we know there could be glaring bugs in this software (there was in the version that came out last year) and we'll be unable to fix them before submitting a tax return (meaning we'll be responsible for them).

        Not actually true. There is a message at the start advising that as long as the user has supplied accurate info, they won't be held liable for any bugs in the e-Tax software.
        Plus, you get to see a preview of your tax return (a filled-in form) which you can print and submit by post, if you don't have regular internet access, or are paranoid about electronic submission.

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:10AM (#13025373)
        How can a government ever justify not releasing source code to the public? It's developed with public funds, therefore we own it.

        Hmm ... I'll have to use that argument to get into Area 51 to take a ride in whatever cool aircraft they've got there. :)

        "Don't point that weapon at me, young man; I'll have you know I pay your salary!"
        • by mborland (209597) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @09:47AM (#13026173)
          Your post was humorous, but your analogy (as with most analogies) doesn't shed light on this situation.

          You aren't allowed access to many government facilities (esp. military) because of the extreme risk of harm to the greater populace, either through access to dangerous resources (a tank) or information (that could be harmful to millions).

          Seeing the source code to an application that serves a tax-filing purpose makes sense because there is, or at least should be, no inherent risk in releasing it. Hacking the protocols would be pointless because the client program, if hacked, could not achieve more access to the service than someone could do using a homebrew client program.

          Unless, of course, the government has released software on the client or server side which is inherently not secure, in which case they shouldn't be using this anyway (which is probably the case).

    • by mabinogi (74033) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:26AM (#13025259) Homepage
      Because at the moment they provide guarantees and protection when you use the application to submit your taxes.

      If they opened the source and allowed non official clients to connect to the service, they could no longer provide those guarantees or protections.

      Also, I don't think too many people would be happy trusting their TFN to anything but software provided by the ATO.

      Also, the etax software has _never_ been anything but windows only, I don't know why suddenly that's a big problem - or any more of a problem than it was in 1998.
    • Why don't they just use a web-browser system for doing taxes? There are many companies in Canada (and presumably the US) that use a browser-based package to allow people to file their returns.

      I used one myself this year and it was painless and fast. No need for software for specific clients/OSes.

      (didn't RTFA, apologies if I missed something) ;P

      N.
  • The web based e-tax forms in my country work perfectly with Firefox on Linux. Our neighbours in Germany have a similar problem like the Aussies: The only available free (as in beer) program for their electronic tax forms is for Windows.
  • by vinn (4370) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:57AM (#13025011) Homepage Journal
    Just for fun, I tried running it with the latest CVS of Wine. It installs fine (which is most of the problem with Wine these days.) It also launches fine. I wasn't able to get too far since I don't have an Australian tax ID number, but it was enough to launch the program. The help screens were written using the old MS help system and not the newer CHM, so you can use Wine's internal winhelp viewer to view it all. The controls seem to be pretty old, so I imagine the app runs fine with Wine.

    I'd give their website a C- for usability. It seems way too technical for the average user to download the app in the first place. They have 4 links before the app download about patches, the description of which would be meaningless to most users and not obvious that they don't need them.
    • I'd give their website a C- for usability. It seems way too technical for the average user to download the app in the first place. They have 4 links before the app download about patches, the description of which would be meaningless to most users and not obvious that they don't need them.


      That may be the case , but over a million people a couple of years ago did their taxes with it. And they caught the ATO by surprise too - they had to do a lot of upgrades to the servers that handle the actual submission
  • 404 Fixed (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kinky Bass Junk (880011) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:59AM (#13025018)
    Do you know how big an idiot I feel? I had problems with mod_rewrite and .htaccess at the worst possible time, but it's all fixed now :) Sorry again.
  • Give me a break (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @02:59AM (#13025019) Homepage Journal
    Come on.

    They don't say that it will never become available to Linux and Mac users, simply that it's only out for Windows right now. Think about it for a minute. You only have time to get a single version of the client ready so which OS do you support first? You could release a Linux or Mac client and reach a fraction of your users or a Windows client and reach a large majority. Hmmm, let's see...

    Besides, it doesn't sound like the emulation is that tough. Getting Wine working on Linux with simple applications certainly isn't difficult, this coming from a Linux "n00b". I don't know for certain, but I'd imagine that a tax return application would emulate easily enough.

    Give them a break and stop whining. Not to tout Windows or bash Linux, but this is what happens when you've chosen to use an operating system with a very small consumer market share. Give it time.
    • You only have time to get a single version of the client ready so which OS do you support first?

      All of them.

      Cross-platform app development is only painful if you try to do it after the code has been targeted to a single platform. If you aim for portability right from the start, it isn't hard to do.

    • You only have time to get a single version of the client ready so which OS do you support first?

      I can see it now:

      Online tax form application released; compatible only with 100% GNU/Linux based operating systems. Millions of citizens switch to Linux overnight to file taxes. BSD and Solaris form a coalition alledging that governments are monopolies. Microsoft takes the government to court, citing their patents for "an online system by which choice of operating system is passively forced."

      In a related s

  • by QuantumG (50515)
    Why is it people these days go straight for petitioning their government instead of trying to help themselves? Here's a couple of suggestions:
    1. Study the program and the resulting data and write a workalike program for your favourite platform.
    2. Put in a Freedom Of Information Act request for the source code to this program so you can port it to your favourite platform.
    3. Work on WINE so it can run this program as it has been written.
    4. Study the tax system and develop a program that works better than the ori
    • Writing a program to walk one through the process of getting the requisite data wouldn't be the problem. The thing is, the e-tax software lodges your return directly to the Tax Office via the Internet. Reverse-engineering that part may be much more difficult...
      • I strongly doubt it would be hard at all. I think you'll find it just sends an email (I even remember email being an option for lodgement, but that was a few years ago). At worst it would do a HTTP post to a cgi.
        • I don't think so (though I've no idea for sure, I haven't lodged yet, or decided whether I'm going to lodge with e-tax). The download for the app checks for what level of software security and the operating system native security level (go through the download process yourself), so that may suggest it uses SSL or something.
      • Actually that would be the easy part. All you have to do is set up a fake system that pretends it's the tax office and read what data is sent.
    • I think the idea of writing a replacement program for this is really unrealistic, I mean, why bother? The whole point of filing electronically is to make your life easier and help things go a little faster. Who would spend the time reverse engineering the program, learning the australian tax codes inside and out and put it together as a program that you could use without wanting to claw your eyes out?

      and then, once you get that far, you have to redo the whole damn thing next year for any changes made in th
      • Filling out a tax return is so simple in Australia that a koala with a pencil wedged in its mouth could do it. If your tax return is remotely complicated you're expected to go to an accountant anyway.
    • Re:Oh for God sake (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NickFortune (613926)
      Why is it people these days go straight for petitioning their government instead of trying to help themselves?

      How can a government be expected to get it right, if no one provides feedback?

      Moreover, how can governments be expected to frame fair policies for e-gov applications in general, unless they get feedback from early pilot schemes from this. I wouldn't criticise anyone who wanted to explore technical solutions, but petitioning the government is a useful thing to do in addition to any technical i

  • The test has found you are not using Internet explorer

    While your browser may support the correct security, e-tax only recognises the security associated with your operating system to transmit information to the tax office.

    This means you can still use the browser you are choosing to use. However, if the version of Internet Explorer that your operating system originally came with is less than 5.5, you will need to download an update to your operating system.

    Please call our help desk if you are unclear a
  • That's not OK? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nate nice (672391) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @03:04AM (#13025033) Journal
    Considering most people use Windows it makes sense to initially develop a program for Windows. It's a responsible use of tax money. How about the Linux community builds their own open source version? I'm sure it would easily be ported to OS X.

    I mean, it would be more disturbing if they only had a version for Be OS, right?
    • Or if they only had a version for WinXP SP2 and we'll verify your serial number for legitimacy first.

      I don't see a problem with this at all, honestly.
    • Re:That's not OK? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thorkummer (812716) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:23AM (#13025250)
      Considering most people use Windows it makes sense to initially develop a program for Windows

      Web sites, particularly government web sites, should be written to conform to open web standards, not to the idiosyncracies of particular any particular browser.

    • Re:That's not OK? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EvilNTUser (573674)

      "Considering most people use Windows it makes sense to initially develop a program for Windows."

      And what, exactly, would prevent the government from writing it for qt, for example? Not to mention that closed source software is never a responsible use of tax money.

    • Re:That's not OK? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arcade (16638) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:44AM (#13025308) Homepage
      Bullshit. It does not make sense to develop it for windows only. In Norway we've got a web based system which are pretty standard-compatible - and thus compatible with most browsers.

      Heck, even our new "Bank-ID" system, a common system to identify yourself to all the banks, are standards-based. It requires a web browser with a Java-plugin, and that's it.

      Develop for a standard first, and you won't have stupid restrictions later on. Developing for 'one platform first' is nothing but pure stupidity.
  • by mxpengin (516866) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @03:08AM (#13025047) Homepage
    Mexican Goverment has many web tools that must be used by tax payers , sadly this tools require M$ IExplorer to be used. The funny part is that many of this tools are written in java, and they work in part in other browsers/architechtures ... but I guess they never took the time/effort to check them to work correctly but in ie.
  • This system is great... but i do hav to use my flate mate computers to be able to use the software...

    Hold on... did someone say its web based? Last years wasnt... i think they did have a web based one... But not even that is linux friendly? Fark!!! I'm singing!!!
  • No Surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Emporerx (845349)
    This is not actually a surprise to me. A lot of programs like this are made for windows, more than likely because of it's popularity(sad as it is, I know).

    No one said that there will never be a linux or mac port but I wouldn't be betting on it in the near future either, although I don't know how linux is doing in Austrailia.

    In the end it's all about popularity and until we can start converting friends and family over to the light side of the force(ie. linux) this is the sort of thing we will have to
  • Email Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by xlr8ed (726203) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @03:19AM (#13025077)
    * Email the ATO: http://www.ato.gov.au/corporate/content.asp?doc=/c ontent/PA_emailenquiry.html [ato.gov.au]

    * Letter Base (the one I used):

    I am writing to express my concern over the implementation of "e-tax" in a very specific environment. Your choice to only permit those using Microsoft Windows, or certain emulation software, has placed a disgusting bias over the current market monopolies.

    Open Source Software, such as Linux, is attributed with the characteristic of being FREE. To exploit a cliche - free as in speech, as well as free as in beer. By restricting access to only those who can afford Microsoft software, you have placed strains on myself and many others who find themselves liberated of the pressures of proprietry software. I implore you to consider the needs of a wide spectrum of PC users, instead of just those who can afford disgustingly overpriced software, without the need to run _furthur_ software that would likely fail in order to emulate. One possible solution to this is to open the source code up for conversion, and security, by the general population. Either that, or allow a standard protocol for tax returns, so as the general population can code their own software for use with tax returns.

    Sincerely Frustrated,
    David McKenzie
    http://www.freemm.org/ [freemm.org]

    Please note: The contents of this email and any subsequent replies are subject to publishing on mulitple platforms. Please inform me if you do not wish for your replies to be published.
  • The ATO refuse to consider "e-tax" as an authoritative source anyhow. It's just an easy way to submit returns.

    Do the smart thing - keep records, see an accountant. Accountants support all operating systems, including PenAndPaper(tm) and ReceiptsInShoebox(r).
    • And they charge you like $60 and don't even ask for it upfront (they take it out of your return). Most of them even offer a moneyback guarentee if they don't get you the biggest return you're entitled to.
  • How'd this story get onto the front page? This is not really news-for-nerds, or stuff-that-matters.

    So, E-tax is windows-only. Big deal. The ATO is working with the lowest common denominator. Sadly for the zealots out there, that's not linux. And , as an Aussie citizen, this is *my* tax dollars at work. I'm not interested in them spending (say) $1 million to code up a working linux version and do support for it. I want my cash to go to more important things.

    There are plenty of other ways to do your tax.
  • The Brazilian IR has (official) electronic tax returns programs for Windows AND other systems - Linux, Mac, Solaris etc, though for this second group the program is in Java. But better than nothing. Check the link (Disclaimar: Brazilian Portuguese!!!): http://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/PessoaFisica/IRP F/2005/PGDJAVA/progIRPF2005multiplataforma.htm [fazenda.gov.br]
  • While I sympathise with this fellows' plight, I think that he could have gone a little bit further to rewrite the letter in a 'diplomatic' language.

    Using phrases like "disgusting bias" and " ...who can afford disgustingly overpriced software... " do nothing for trying to get your message across. Additionally using FULL CAPS (even for one word) and other e-emphasis methods are not suggested. You simply come across as a screaming annoyance.

    All that said, I hope he has success with his attempts. For myself
  • No one is forcing you to use anything. OSS is about freedom of choice and if you happen to use Linux or OSX, you have a choice to use emulation software. Or choose to use Windows, but stop complaining. If you really think they must have a better system, I challenge you to start a company without tax payer money and write a better piece of software and sell it to the government.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @03:43AM (#13025139)
    The requirements: http://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/content.asp?doc= /content/32613.htm&page=3&H3 [ato.gov.au] Why in the world do Governments want to be dependent on a foreign company's closed-source proprietary software is beyond me. I understand the need to get the most common platform but supercomplex software projects like Firefox can manage Mac/Linux/Windows (through QT???) - why can't a government? It will save them headaches in the long-run, if the code is written to be portable and platform independent. I get into the same mood when I see a website warning me it's only configured for IE or Active X. What is that BS?
    • by natrius (642724) <niran&niran,org> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:34AM (#13025411) Homepage
      1. Firefox uses its own cross-platform toolkit, XUL, not Qt.
      2. Using Qt would make them have to pay for licenses or GPL their program. Since it's not GPL'd already, I assume they have a good reason for doing so. That assumption is most likely wrong, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
      3. Many developers aren't well versed in cross-platform development, so hiring developers based on that criteria would probably come at a premium. A Windows-only program, while not ideal, works for most, if not all people. Most people at least have a Windows machine lying around, can run the program in Wine, or have access to a Windows machine at a library. Is it really worth wasting tax money to cater to the small percentage of people that this slightly inconveniences?
  • Instead of tyring to make it a religious/philosophical issue, try writing an email simply requesting ports to other platforms like Linux and MacOS.
  • Overreaction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wbren (682133) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:01AM (#13025196) Homepage
    As soon as this news item was posted on slashdot, people began bashing the Australian government for only supporting Windows (or writing "protest emails" like the submitter did). It was as if they were saying, "How dare they insult us Linux/Mac users? They are supporting evil Microsoft and alienating all us geeks." They made it Windows-only because they looked at the numbers, plain and simple. Windows is what the vast majority of taxpayers find easiest to use, because it's what they are used to. Most taxpayers use Windows. It is more popular than Linux/MacOS. Before I continue, I fully realize this comment will be modded into the depths of Hell.

    The government's goal is not to convert people to Linux/Mac/OSS, or even to support that minority. Their goal is to cut down on massive amounts of paperwork and make it easier for most people to pay their taxes. The quickest and cheapest way to do that is by releasing a Windows program to pay taxes, duh. Someone even suggested taking this matter to the courts, comparing it to handicapped/women's rights.

    "Your honor, I don't want to use Windows because it sucks and MS is evil, and I don't want to use the traditional paper system because I'm an elitist computer-literate citizen. Therefore, the government should be required to release a Mac/Linux version of the tax software." The response would be: Tough luck, use paper. You're lucky to have a computerized system to begin with.

    Here are some things to remember:
    • Just because eTax is Windows-only doesn't mean Australia is waging a war on Linux/Mac. It doesn't mean they are "supporting global monopolies". They are casting the widest net with the least cost, which unfortunately is something government rarely attempts.
    • The government has better things to do than cater to everyone who uses an OS 90% of people don't use. Sorry, there are much more important things out there.
    • They didn't rule out support for other operating systems in the future. They even suggested alternatives for now (Wine, etc).
    • It's better to release a test version on one OS than maintain three test versions for three different operating systems. Give them time.
    • Re:Overreaction (Score:5, Insightful)

      by samtihen (798412) * on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:28AM (#13025265) Homepage
      Ok. I'm not an OS Zealot. I currently use Windows XP on my personal computer.

      I disagree with the idea of making something "Windows only" when it is in no way necessary. Equivalent applications could be written in Java, or (preferably) could be completely web based.

      Both of these options would work for all users. Neither of these options would be more expensive.

      What happened is very simple. The government hired a company that poorly engineered their software.

      You are right, it probably doesn't matter to 90% of the people. But don't pretend it would have been harder or more expensive to do it right and have it work for 100% of people.

      Explain to me why you would want a government to artificially limit the usability of something as important as Tax Software.
    • by rklrkl (554527) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:19AM (#13025543) Homepage
      Unfortunately, all your points are invalid because the UK equivalent tax site [inlandrevenue.gov.uk] is and always has been cross-platform (I used Linux and Mozilla or Firefox without a problem) and shows that, basically, the Aussie government were utterly incompetent when initially setting up the site.

      If it's anything like what happened with the official UK lottery site [national-lottery.co.uk] (which banned almost all non-IE *and* non-Windows users from its online games until earlier this year), it'll take about 3 years before the Aussies bother to do another site redesign cycle and suddenly realise what a snafu they originally made.

    • Here are some things to remember:

      • Just because eTax is for hearing-only doesn't mean Australia is waging a war on the deaf. It doesn't mean they are "supporting global monopolies". They are casting the widest net with the least cost, which unfortunately is something government rarely attempts.
      • The government has better things to do than cater to everyone who doesn't have a sense that 90% of people have. Sorry, there are much more important things out there.
      • They didn't rule out support for the deaf in
  • Is anyone surprised about this? Frankly, the most surprising thing about this to me is the fact that they acknowledge that other platforms exist that people might want to use instead. It's not like there aren't thousands of applications that ignore non-windows users and a similarly (unnecessarily) large number of websites that limit themselves to only being viewed on IE (often times also being incompatible with IE for mac even).
  • This is blatant descrimination against minorities on the part of the Australian goverment. Us OS/360 users want to file our taxes online too! We will not stop until we achieve the equality we so sorely deserve!
  • However, the government there is probably making a sound economic decision to only support windows. What's the market share of Windows-based systems for the desktop in Australia these days? 95%? Ok, say even as low as 90%...

    That other 10% is made up of at least several different flavours of Linux and Mac OS's - each of which would need testing/revisions.

    They would also need equipment and support people to support each OS.

    So - it would cost you, the tax payer, a lot of money to do your tax return on yo
    • Erm...

      My Bank (NAB australia) uses cross platform banking software. It does warn that it *may not* work if you aren't using netscape or IE, but it will still let you run it anyway, and it does work in other browsers.

      I don't see anything that would preclude the ATO software from running on an open platform as well.

      smash.

  • This isn't new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlightOverdose (689181) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @04:28AM (#13025266)
    I've submitted my last two tax returns using e-tax, and havn't had a problem with booting into windows.

    Billions of dollars will change hands based on the data entered into e-tax. Extremely strict testing is needed, and supporting multiple platforms would make this all the more difficult.

    Given that
    a) Non-windows platforms make up only a few percent of the market; and
    b) Most non-windows platforms can successfully emulate windows well enough to run e-tax (Although I wouldn't risk the potential for errors)
    c) You are still able to use the standard paper based submission, or an accountant (And your probably much better off using an accountant).

    I can understand the decision to only support windows.

  • During the week my company IS department sent out a customer service survey form. They said it would only work in IE, but I gave it a go anyway with Galeon on RH 7.2 and it worked fine.

    Our local IS guy admitted to me that he tried it in Firefox, struck a strange problem, and then just put IE only in the email.

  • by okumura (898674) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @08:41AM (#13025924)
    Japanese e-Tax http://www.e-tax.nta.go.jp/ [nta.go.jp] which has been around for some time is also Windows only.
  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @03:29PM (#13027738) Homepage
    i gave one uk department a very polite form of hell, and, amazingly, it worked.

    i basically explained to them that what they were doing was forcing people to fork out £500 for windows software plus another £500 for a computer capable of _running_ the windows software.

    i then liked this into "discrimination", for which they could quite seriously get into trouble.

    to their credit, they actually responded, sorted out the web site (and stopped publishing things in .doc format).

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