Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Australia's 'e-tax' Windows Only

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the don'tcha-love-single-source-providers dept.

The Almighty Buck 478

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."

cancel ×

478 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

my experience with slash-dot (-1, Troll)

jihadijimmz (897464) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024955)

hey guys,

i'm not sure exactly what i'm doing here. so...bear with me!

i clicked "geeky" on my match.com personals profile, thinking that i'd maybe get hooked up with somebody who was into math or some kind of toy train hobby or something...boy howdy was i in for a shock! i went on 4 dates with guys who all got on match.com because of osdn personals from slash-dot! 4 guys!

anyway, it didn't really work out with any of them, because it seemed like they were all under some kind of mind-control robot or something! i was like "what do you think about office? office 97 is enough for me, but there are some things about xp that are cool too...." the first guy i asked that to exploded on this tyrade about how office was evil, and that it uses html that's invalid...blah blah blah, whatever...i figured "ok, this guys a freak, but i'm not giving up that easily." so guy number two and i are having dinner, and just as a test i bring up office, and he says the *exact* *same* *things* the first guy said! it was like he was reading from a script! i'm thinking to myself "is everybody from slash-dot programmed to say the same thing or what?" i decided to do a bit of investigation.

i actually surfed over to slash-dot and read some of the articles...mostly they were pretty boring, and the comments were just like i expected judging from my previous past experience: scripted!!! just when i was about to completely write the whole thing off, i found a post from some guy who's with anti-slash, some kind of anti-slash-dot website. i mailed him and was all "i so agree with you guys, look at what sheep these slash-dot people are!" he wrote back and made some funny comments (funny and so *true*!...that is soooo the best kind of humor...but i dirgress...) and guess what? this weekend i'm supposed to meet him for dinner :) if you're reading this, i look forward to meeting you in person, john!

anyway, that's my story. ladies: if you're looking for the real cool geeks, check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org] . and fellas, you should check it out too and maybe use to to break out of your mind-control suits!

ok see ya later,

cyndi

I found a unprotected open Linux games Wiki page!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025083)

http://linux.strangegamer.com/ [strangegamer.com]

I already set us up teh ascii Goatse!

Can you imagine, a Beowulf cluster of Slashdot posters with more Creative Ideas(TM)

Taxes windows only? (5, Funny)

no-one-important (657013) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024956)

I was hoping that was a tax on windows... oh well.

Actually, they typo'd (5, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025009)

They're really talking about sharp, pointy tacks, to remind users of the hell they are in.

Re:Taxes windows only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025157)

Oh please, as if OSX and Apple computers aren't "disgustingly overpriced."

slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13024958)

He slashdotted himself?

404 (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024959)

Yep, the "e-mail" is slashdotted already.,

Re:404 (3, Funny)

Codester (898604) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024982)

Nah, it's probably only compatible with internet explorer! ^_^

LINUX USERS (-1, Troll)

silver apple (898643) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024960)

Isn't it a form of rape? Forcing your operating system ideology on other people? Why can't you just enjoy your niche operating system without wringing your hands over "blah blah viable desktop solution blah blah" or whatever it is you repulsive faggots are shitting out your mouths these days. Computers aren't and end unto themselves, and only disgusting pedophiles like star trek.

Tax on Windows users (4, Funny)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024961)

Perhaps this is a tax on Windows users. Linux & Mac users need not worry about paying it.

Re:Tax on Windows users (1)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024994)

That's what I'm thinking. This is the best way for the Ozzie government to find out who has Windows.

Re:Tax on Windows users (1)

HG Slashdot (895363) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025140)

Yay! Now we are all going to emulate windows to pay our taxes.

Re:Tax on Windows users (2, Funny)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025145)

Geez, you'd think that would be taxing enough!

Link down (0, Redundant)

Codester (898604) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024962)

The story has been posted for a minute and the link is already down... or is it that someone cannot copy/paste?

-Code

Thank you foreign governments.... (5, Insightful)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Thank you foreign governments.... (2, Informative)

Yonan (883124) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024995)

You're assuming people are using copies of Winblows that they've bought ; ) I think it's nice to know that people in Redmond are working on creating good OSes that I .... borrow.

Re:Thank you foreign governments.... (0, Troll)

Canadian_Daemon (642176) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025119)

WTF! RTFS e-tax is a web interface for filling out taxes. It is only available to Windows users. There is no tax given to Redmond. Before you post your american troll, read the summary.

Re:Thank you foreign governments.... (1)

MassacrE (763) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025195)

The tax is on the computers Australians buy - my bet is about $80 AUS winds up going to a certain Washington-state company for almost every computer sold. The added charge on every computer sold is commonly referred to as the "Windows Tax"

Editors please check links (1)

mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024965)

The protest email is a 404. You would think the editors would actually check thier links. But no, they can't even do that.

Re:Editors please check links (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024978)

The protest email is a 404. You would think the editors would actually check thier links. But no, they can't even do that.

Oh, quit complaining how bad the editors are! I have complete confidence they'll have this fixed by the time the article is reposted as a dupe.

Re:Editors please check links (1)

mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025056)

Your right, I should be easier on the editors. It has to be a hard task reposting everything 2-3 times. By the way, should we really be calling them editors? I mean what was the last thing they actually edited?

Note to Kinky Bass Junk (1)

Eradicator2k3 (670371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024966)

Please ensure you have bandwidth available before submitting yourself to the /. effect.

"Kinky" indeed.

404 The page cannot be found (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13024969)

Protest.. (2, Interesting)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024973)

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.

Re:Protest.. (1)

Yonan (883124) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025014)

I'm pretty sure most people using alternative OSes have access to a windows box at work/uni/friends house. Why make the government waste more money then they already do?

Re:Protest.. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025132)

Because there are ways to make things cross-platform compatible, and thus do the state some good by not feeding into a monopolist.

They are quick these Aussies (1)

schestowitz (843559) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024974)

Only 5 minutes and the government has already killed that E-mail. Impressive!

This is not a new thing. (5, Informative)

bobinabottle (819829) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Erm... I wish: (5, Funny)

Cantide (743407) | more than 9 years ago | (#13024977)

"Sorry, I can't pay my taxes, I run OS/2"

Re:Erm... I wish: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13024990)

"You're still running OS/2? You probably didn't make enough money this year to have to pay taxes anyways"

Re:Erm... I wish: (1)

dysprosia (661648) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025003)

But does e-tax work under Project Odin [wikipedia.org] ?

The protest (4, Informative)

dysprosia (661648) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025013)

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?

Give us the source (5, Interesting)

lasindi (770329) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025005)

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.

Re:Give us the source (1)

altodarknight (832950) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025075)

But surely you could see many programmers hiding little bugs within the program to make themselves tax free. Not everything must or can be open source. Government's might use open source to develop software for their use (which has been done extensivly across Australia) but no government in their right mind would release their software as open source. There are so many security risks involved. Also, the tax department of Australia does not have a resposibility to provide for every situation. It has made it possible for 90% of computer owners to do their taxes online. It is progression. I would expect macs to be catered for next year and maybe linux soon as well. They could have raised taxes to have a linux/mac version this year, but then you might not be able to afford a computer to do your taxes online, or afford to pay for an internet connection. Its is the open source community's resposibility to make it's OS compatible with these processes, not the company/government to make a version for your OS. I support open source as use it frequently, but if your program/OS isn't usable, then is it really any good? Window's as it is now due to it's 20 year legacy. It has to cater for previous versions within it's next generation product. True OSX dumped it's legacy and from it came a better OS, but there are many issues around compatibility. This is why, even though it is a better OS, OSX has had a slow uptake. Now that some time has gone by, many of these issues are nolong apparent at this time, so OSX is now growing in popularity. With such a large user base, if this was done with windows, there would be major issues for MS finacially. If you are a smaller business, it is your resposibility to the user to make the OS/program you want them to use compatible. Otherwise, why the hell will they choose you product?

Re:Give us the source (3, Insightful)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025168)

But surely you could see many programmers hiding little bugs within the program to make themselves tax free. Not everything must or can be open source. Government's might use open source to develop software for their use (which has been done extensivly across Australia) but no government in their right mind would release their software as open source. There are so many security risks involved.

No server programmer in their right mind would trust the client to do validation and use the data it supplies blindly. The server should be validating submitted forms and rejecting those that don't add up; then it doesn't matter what client people use. (For that matter, it's just a *form*; why not use plain HTML forms and work on every browser?) If the security of their tax system depends on their client-side validation, rest assured that there will be modified versions of the software floating around which conveniently omit a few things here and there, whether or not the source is available.

The government doesn't need to write a client for every possible OS, particularly ones that are (for the moment) used by a minority of users. They just need to provide all the information for anyone else to be able to. Releasing the source to their client is one way to do that; another would be a full specification of the protocol. If Australia has a FOIA equivalent, use it to demand the protocol specification.

I support open source as use it frequently, but if your program/OS isn't usable, then is it really any good?

"My toaster is broken, it can't cook pizza!". GNU/Linux isn't designed to run Windows programs. The fact that one particular program running on it can passably do so using emulation is an interesting novelty that benefits some people while transitioning away from the programs in question. It is a stopgap, not a good long-term solution.

Re:Give us the source (2, Informative)

dancallaghan (890674) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025186)

But surely you could see many programmers hiding little bugs within the program to make themselves tax free.

What? How? Everyone's tax returns are still processed by the ATO [ato.gov.au] , irrespective of how they're compiled or submitted.

There are so many security risks involved.

There isn't reall. All their e-tax application does is run through a (rather long-winded) set of questions -- exactly the same as what you fill in on paper. It also provides a refund estimate, which it calculates based on the user's input. All of that could be coded by anyone using the paper tax-pack. The only other thing is the actual submission of the completed tax return, which seems to involve a few HTTP requests (enter some details to confirm your identity, get a submission code back, then submit your return using that code) -- and there's no reason that couldn't be open.

Re:Give us the source (2, Insightful)

lasindi (770329) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025197)

But surely you could see many programmers hiding little bugs within the program to make themselves tax free. Not everything must or can be open source.

I see your point, but if it's possible to cheat on your taxes by modifying the client software, then it's a pretty weak design. All such checks should be done on the server side. Even though the program is being distributed as a binary, if such loopholes exist, one can imagine some hex-editor-wielding taxpayer giving himself tax breaks. I see no reason why the whole design couldn't be made secure against this or why they couldn't provide a web-based system so that all you need is a browser.

Its is the open source community's resposibility to make it's OS compatible with these processes, not the company/government to make a version for your OS.

It's pretty difficult to make your OS run binaries from another platform if the other platform is closed source. The government shouldn't have to build a version of the program for every OS, but it should provide an interface compatible with some open standard/protocol, such as HTTP. This way, even if your platform didn't support the standard/protocol, it would be easy for someone to write a program that did.

I'm glad to live in Austria (2, Informative)

ammoQ (454616) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025008)

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.

Re:I'm glad to live in Austria (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025025)

I'm not too disappointed with the windows only tax program. What irritates me is when I try to choose Australian as my language in software installers, only to have my desktop displayed in leederhosen.

Seems to work with Wine (4, Informative)

vinn (4370) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025011)

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.

Re:Seems to work with Wine (0, Troll)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025058)

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.

I wonder if someone will set up a proxy, and then use that program to do a "friends" taxes for them.

Of course, we don't want to get the SOB audited by claiming all sorts of shit as exemptions. But I am sure we can deduct $1,000 from taxes due to the donations given to the single moms charity, better known as Scores Gentlemans Club.

Then we can deduct the $500 we donated to the Palistinial Defense Fund for Martyrdom.

Finally, we'll claim a $1700 deductable for the Windows compatible PC needed to complete the taxes. Since the tax application won't work on my Mac, I need to buy a computer with Windows. It is a buisness expense, because I will only use the computer once, to send the IRS my tax returns. That is 100% buisness use.

Re:Seems to work with Wine (2, Informative)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025111)

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 submissions. For a country that has about 8 million taxpayers, that's a *lot*. Even if the linux and mac taxpayers can't submit theirs :-)

404 Fixed (4, Informative)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:404 Fixed (2, Funny)

xlr8ed (726203) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025080)

Give it a few minutes, and it's not going to matter...

Give me a break (2, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025019)

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.

Re:Give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025110)

I'm an aussie who has been keen to do e tax over paper forms for years, but for the fact I'm an apple user. The servcie has\ been a windows only client for 3 years. It's cluncky and old - in fact when I looked at it I thought it was written in java, due to the poor looking windows componets. I did once try and do it from my work computer and while I'm sure it would have been fine - I was not fully prepared with all my personal documents to do it, even on my second run I still had left somthing at home I had to check.

Should I have to buy Virtual PC plus a windows license just so I can do my tax (hey do you think I could deduct it next year?)

Re:Give me a break (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025160)

How about you just wait until next year when your new Mac has an x86 chip in it? WINE will work just fine then. Ahhh, you Mac hippies are in for some real pain when companies that would previously have said "right, we need a Windows version first, then we'll code a Mac version and those Linux dweebs can use WINE if they want to use our product" start saying "right, we just need a Windows version, everyone else can use WINE."

Oh for God sake (1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025023)

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 original so people on alternative platforms don't feel the need to boot into Windows to use the "official" software.
Of course, every one of these involves some kind of work and doesn't have the quick fix appeal of sending an email to a public servant who is just trying to do his job.

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

dysprosia (661648) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025039)

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...

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025098)

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.

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

dysprosia (661648) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025117)

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.

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025114)

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.

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025078)

Put in a Freedom Of Information Act request for the source code to this program so you can port it to your favourite platform.
I wasn't aware that Australia has a identically camed act for the freedom of information as the US.

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025109)

Re:Oh for God sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025190)

I wasn't aware that Australia has a identically camed act for the freedom of information as the US.

Yes, Australia has it. So does Canada. What's your point?

Re:Oh for God sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025090)

Why is it people these days go straight for petitioning their government instead of trying to help themselves?

AKAIK, people using Linux or Macs pay the same amount of taxes than the ones using Windows. Why should they have less services?

The public servant who took the decision to make a windows only application is incompetent and should be fired.

Re:Oh for God sake (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025129)

That's a braindead argument. Especially when you consider that most Australians still submit their tax returns via pen and paper. The software is also useless to you if you happen to have anything remotely complicated to claim as you can't attach receipts to it. As it stands, the government was already wasting enough (of my) money making this windows app. Admittedly a javascript enhanced web form would have been just as effective. But isn't that the point of my post? Instead of petitioning the government to "serve" us better, shouldn't we be asking the government for open access to submit tax returns so the market can find the best way to serve us? Of course, when you consider that it costs a grand total of $60 to go to a tax consultant and get your return done by a professional (they won't even take the money off you upfront, they'll wait for your return!), I think it is obvious that this software serves no purpose but to encourage people not to leave their house to mail a letter.

It's IE only (1)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025030)

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 about this requirement on 1300 1300 17, or follow the instructions below

There's the error message you get with Firefox on XP Pro SP2 (latest patches, latest everything la la etc). What's interesting is that the program you download has some sort of accomadations for the vision-impaired, yet apparently these people can't be bothered to write real security code. Thing is, my first thought was "oh, yet another group too lazy to write software; they're just using ActiveX instead." But they're not. The download is a 3.58MB .exe file. In fact, the more I read this site, the less this "IE only" thing makes sense. The way it's set up, I honestly don't see any reason why they'd insist you use IE other than using some freaking exploit to get access to your operating system for "security reasons" or something equally silly.

Re:It's IE only (1)

dysprosia (661648) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025052)

No, it's not IE only. If you click on the "Click here to continue" link underneath the pink box, you proceed to the download page.

Re:It's IE only (1)

chorltonian (887201) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025159)

The wording does seem to suggest that when submitting your tax return using the software there is some sort of dependency on IE. Even so, you can keep it free since IE6 runs ok on the latest Wine according to wine-hq.

Perhaps Linux users aren't worth taxing.... (1)

Marbleless (640965) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025032)

After all, if they can't afford a real OS they probably don't pay tax either :) (ducks and runs for cover.....)

Re:Perhaps Linux users aren't worth taxing.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025085)

That's not entirely true. ESR and cmdrtaco became millionaires in the VA IPO scam. Linus has been gifted millions in stock. RMS is living comfortably on the 240k McArthur genius grant he recieved and is known to pull up to conferences in his pristine Bugatti EB16.4 Veyron. [autoweek.com]

That's not OK? (3, Insightful)

nate nice (672391) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025033)

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?

Re:That's not OK? (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025176)

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.

Does it really matter? (1, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025036)

I did not pay taxes last year. Or the year before.

I sent a letter to the IRS, and to the White House, informing them I could not pay taxes because I knew some of the money would be used to kill muslims in the Middle East. As a representative of God on earth, I knew killing is wrong.

Instead, I offered to offset my taxes by traveling accross the USA and leaving bibles in every hotel room.

I don't think people should pay taxes. I think taxes are evil. What we need is an income cap. That would do more to save our country. Has anyone been to a movie theater? $10 for a ticket, $4 for popcorn, $4 for a soda. Now multiply that by a family of 4. And add in some rasionettes. All of a sudden, Brad Pitt does not look so charming, when I know the motherfucker is getting $10,000,000 and $74 of that is comming from my wallet. Does that mean if he got $1,000,000 I would have only paid $7.40? Maybe not, but maybe the guy selling me my ticket would make more than minimum wage, and maybe I would not need to watch a Fandango commercial.

What was this post about?

Oh, taxes. And how Microsoft sucks. Maybe we can combine the two hates, and appoint Bill Gates as chief of the IRS. I'd hate to say it, but Gates would have a better chance of collecting Taxes from me than Uncle Sam. Bill has a say in how I view porn (Damn you and your DRM WRM v9, I never thought I would pay for porn).

Oh, about not paying for taxes. The government can not force you to. They can throw you in jail, that is true, but it will cost government $30,000 per year to house you and feed you and pay for the guards and electricity. So if you don't pay taxes, and government sends you to jail, you win. Not only did you not pay taxes, but you forced them to spend $30,000 a year on you.

Re:Does it really matter? (2, Informative)

general_re (8883) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025096)

Oh, about not paying for taxes. The government can not force you to. They can throw you in jail, that is true, but it will cost government $30,000 per year to house you and feed you and pay for the guards and electricity. So if you don't pay taxes, and government sends you to jail, you win. Not only did you not pay taxes, but you forced them to spend $30,000 a year on you.

Except that yout friendly neighborhood IRS agent is just as aware of that calculation as you are. So most likely, they won't toss you in prison - they'll simply calculate your taxes and file for you, and then if you owe, they'll place a lien against your property, garnish your wages, or freeze your bank accounts in order to satisfy the debt. Or some combination of the three.

Of course, maybe you don't have any property to seize, bank accounts to raid, or wages to garnish, but in that case, you probably don't really owe much in the way of taxes to begin with, which would make your gesture essentially meaningless - it's posturing without really risking anything.

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

Botta (183054) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025165)

You really are a negative person aren't you?

Lighetn up (0, Offtopic)

Elgreco1 (714955) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025037)

This is a new move for the US goverment. I think it is a plus that they say that they don't run in Linux. Normaly they don't know anything about it. Given enough complaints they will make it work with Linux.

Re:Lighetn up (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025055)

Um...did you even read the title of the article?

Hint: That first word in the article's title refers to a nation that you may have heard of, if only because of kangaroos and Paul Hogan.

Re:Lighetn up (1)

beware1000 (678753) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025107)

that it is, it's also the same tax software we have had for years.

Re:Lighetn up (1)

dancallaghan (890674) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025151)

Meh, John Howard*'s tongue is so far up Dubya's arse, it can be hard to tell them apart sometimes ...

(* our Prime Minister)

ease up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025042)

I for one use Mac's mostly, typing this on a PC. However, I do realize two things:

1. Combined Mac and Linux combined have what? MAYBE 10% of the user base out there? Subtract student users who prolly don't pay taxes anyway and you end up where? 7%?

2. I assume this thing is publicly funded.

If my assumptions are correct, and you want to give the most bang for the buck.... then you're going to target Windows. Big freakin' deal!

Sure, maybe they should have just had a browser based app... maybe they had a reason (i.e. time to market, skills of those involved, etc.) that led them away from a web approach. I'd like to see their cost analysis before slamming them for spending taxpayer money on a solution that may make the most sense. (long time listener, first time caller... go easy on me man)

Sadly in mexico is the same history (4, Interesting)

mxpengin (516866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025047)

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.

I'm Signing (1)

POds (241854) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025051)

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!!!

You paying for it? (0, Flamebait)

shird (566377) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025054)

I for one, would hope the government *doesn't* do this. 99% of Linux users have a copy of Windows lying around, and a fair chunk of those users probably use Windows most of the time. Linux isn't a deskop OS, you can't expect organisations to write desktop software for it.

Wah wah wah... it won't run on my PS2 either, Im going to have a bitch and post on slashdot..

Seeing as its my taxes that would wind up paying for this, I sincerly hope they dont spend thousands of my taxes to satisfy all of 5 users that would actually use it. Grab the paper forms man, this program is provided as a convenience to the 99% of people that run a desktop OS.

Re:You paying for it? (1)

miknight (642270) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025069)

What about on my Mac though? I can't afford that emulation software...

copy + paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025060)

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.

* Complaint Services: http://www.ato.gov.au/corporate/content.asp?doc=/c ontent/33746.htm [ato.gov.au]

* 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.

No Surprise (2, Insightful)

Emporerx (845349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025068)

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 get used to (Or create our own ports).

Email Link (3, Informative)

xlr8ed (726203) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

It's useless anyhow. (1)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025084)

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).

Re:It's useless anyhow. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025173)

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.

You could disagree (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025088)

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.

- Perhaps you could cough up $50 to use a tax agent (who'll likely find more deductions,anyway) and get that $50 back next year as a deduction.

- Or use wine , which has worked for me on the last three versions of e-tax. Hell, they did suggest it.

- Or, (gasp! the horror! ) spend an hour or so with a calculator and use the standard paper-based form.

When linux is 25% of the installed Australian PC user base, they might consider it. But you'll probably see a Mac version first. Personally, I'm glad that they've made the first step and actually made online returns possible, because it's a hell of a lot better than the old paper-chase.

Re:You could disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025105)

A $50 tax agent?
Tell me more! my accountant charged me $300 for last years tax return.

Re:You could disagree (1)

noisymime (816237) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025185)

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.

So you're not happy with them spending $1 million for an OSS (or similar) application to do the same thing, yet you think the fact that they've spent the same amount on an application you can't use isn't newsworthy? If they're spending taxpayers money to develop an e-tax solution, it should be useable by everyone. I mean it would be pretty easy to make this in Java or even just browser based.

Not news. (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025092)

Some piece of software doesn't work on Linux! Stop the presses! Call CNN! MOST IMPORTANT: Submit it to slashdot!

Seriously... mod me down if you like, but aren't Linux on desktop users already accustomed to not having access to all the software they want to use?

Re:Not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025130)

This is a .go tool, they should make it accessable.

Linux, Mac, Solaris etc - Brazilian IR (2, Informative)

prdallan (847818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025102)

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]

ATO Online business (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025103)

It's strange that this application is written specifically for windows for the general public. For businesses who submit a quarterly or yearly BAS electronically, there's a Java application available for download. They set you up with keys and from then you're submitting your business income online.

However, it is a tricky program to setup, not for the weak hearted. I can't imagine the average business owner setting it up and getting it working by themselves.

Rewrite the letter to make it get across better (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025116)

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, I'll resort to still using my accountant.

They are giving you a choice... (1)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025122)

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.

It's easy to make code portable through QT...... (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Huh? (1)

elhedran (768858) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025141)

I've used the e-tax for 2 years in a row. then I got a mac and dumped my windows box. I'm not complaining, the software is just a virtual form that does some very easy math for you.

As for protesting windows only, are you going to protest it isn't available for the Acorn? How about PalmPC? They wrote software to make sending tax in easier. They wrote it for the biggest group of users. How is that anything but intelligent government spending.

Yes, it would be nice if they used Qt and made it multi-platform (Qt GPL or non-GPL on mac, linux and windows now), but even if the code doesn't have to be written more than once, there is still additional effort in packaging and support. I mean they let you get the software for free as in beer. Next you will want them to buy you a PC too otherwise they disadvantag those who do not own a computer.

Either do in on the forms and mail them in, get a tax person to do it for you, or run WINE/VirtualPC. Save your indignation for real issues like <insert real issue here>.

Big Brother (0, Offtopic)

liangzai (837960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025143)

Now you know what Apple's 1984 commercial was really about.

Because Big Brother cares about standards just as much as your favorite software company.

Because Big Brother doesn't know the Internet is comprised of standardized protocols and methods.

Because Big Brother is a dump for losers who can't get a job elsewhere where quality matters.

It would be a piece of cake developing a Java version of a tax application. The reason governments don't is that they since long are filials to Microsoft Corp. Although every government have rules concerning monopolies and want diversity, this doesn't apply to the government itself.

And although the government is screaming about security in personal computing, they still use Windows and Internet Explorer, and expect everybody else to do so too. Their standpoint is that Microsoft should better themselves, not to use the already many existing alternatives, which are all better in most regards.

This is an oxymoron, and it will not change. Because this is Big Brother, and Big Brother is big and slow. Get used to it, and try to get back at the government in other ways. I know I always do.

emulation software = deduction? (1)

noisymime (816237) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025156)

If I purchase some emulation software for platform xxx then I'm guessing this would be tax deductable?
Good to see the tax office is doing a good job of creating deductions for us.

I just submitted my tax using this system (1)

kotku (249450) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025163)

You can see the system requirements at the Australian TAX Office [ato.gov.au] .

The system works pretty well.

Critical information is

Operating system

Windows 98, 2000, Me or XP or Apple Macintosh with suitable Windows Emulator software installed.

Browser

Any version of Internet Explorer 6 or any version of Netscape 7. If you are using an earlier version browser, it must have the relevant 'patches' or high encryption pack capable of supporting 128bit SSL.

Note. e-tax will check your browser to ensure it meets the minimum requirements. More information will be provided online if you need to upgrade your browser.

Geez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025171)

Geez give them a break, doing it online is only a new thing and your all up in arms cos they haven't ported it to Mac or Linux yet. Give them a break, not like you all don't have a copy of Windows around somewhere anyway.

Re:Geez (1)

Fritzed (634646) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025192)

First off, you don't "port" a website to linux of mac. If it doesn't work there it is only because you made it wrong in the first place. Second, I actually don't have a copy of windows around, I gave my only copy away over 6 months ago. -> Fritz

A suggestion (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13025189)

Instead of tyring to make it a religious/philosophical issue, try writing an email simply requesting ports to other platforms like Linux and MacOS.

Oh yeah baby!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13025194)

Finally a /. article about ham radio. I'm in nerd heaven today!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>