ATO considers e-tax for Mac OS X

ATO considers e-tax for Mac OS X

Summary: The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has not given up an e-tax version for Mac users, with the government agency looking into whether it is now possible to port the app to OS X.

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The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has not given up on an e-tax version for Mac users, with the government agency looking into whether it is now possible to port the app to OS X.

The ATO's e-tax application currently only supports Microsoft Windows, leaving Linux and OS X users out in the cold. The ATO's official advice has been that it does not support those platforms, even though more users are using e-tax than ever. Those wanting to run the application on their systems could run it using virtualisation or emulation software, with any necessary purchase of software for that purpose being tax deductible.

However, change was in the wind when a new version of the the Delphi platform, which e-tax is developed on, was released in September last year. This version, Delphi XE2, continues to support the development of applications for Windows, but it also provides support for OS X and iOS.

This is a big step forward to the ATO being able to port e-tax to OS X, however, it will need to do some work before the app can function.

Delphi XE2 has introduced a cross-platform graphical user interface (GUI) framework called FireMonkey, which allows users to create GUIs which will work across Windows, OS X, and iOS. Prior to FireMonkey, user interfaces used Delphi's Visual Component Library (VCL), which has not been ported to OS X since FireMonkey is now vastly superior. The taxation office will need to convert the e-tax GUI to FireMonkey before the application will work on OS X.

The ATO appears to already be examining how feasible this may be, with Intermedium reporting that the ATO has commissioned a study into porting e-tax to OS X.

"The ATO is committed to providing a sustainable outcome for Macintosh Operating System and we continue to test out concepts to ascertain their viability," the ATO said in a statement to ZDNet Australia.

"To this end, and given recent developments in the Delphi platform on which the current e-tax product is built, we have engaged Capgemini to provide advice as to the feasibility and extensibility of the current outsourced development platform to support e-tax on the Macintosh Operating System."

The ATO's "E Tax 2012 Project Governance Review" contract with consulting firm Capgemini is worth about $156,000 and is for the period between 16 February and 5 April this year.

Although it didn't rule out an app for the iPhone or iPad in the future, the ATO told ZDNet Australia that the contract with Capgemini was only to examine e-tax on OS X and at this stage does not consider iOS.

As Delphi XE2 does not support development for the Linux environment, those users will have to continue to use other operating systems or virtualised environments.

Topics: Apple, Government, Government AU, Microsoft, Open Source, Windows

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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5 comments
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  • That's great that they're just starting to think of this now. Real forward thinking there. If they're going to the trouble of re-writing VCL to FireMonkey, perhaps the time would be better spent re-writing the entire package in something that's actually cross platform compatible from the start.
    m00nh34d
  • This should save the government a fair whack in tax deductions for buying Windows OEMs and emulation software for users wanting to run eTax.
    Letterboxfrog
  • I guess they haven't heard of HTML, with forms, to populate a database. Seriously, does this really have to be on a "platform" differently than ons that already exists and can accommodate a browser front end? I really don't understand why it can't be a standards compliant, OS-agnostic web app that can run in modern browsers.
    wheelyweb
  • Of course they have heard of HTML.... so have the hackers. Putting it on the web like that would seriously undermine the security of the application.
    Macrat1000
    • @macrat - are you serious? I suppose you don't use internet banking because of similar concerns. Putting it on a webpage will not make it less secure if done correctly. Many other countries support tax returns online over a web interface e.g. New Zealand and Sweden
      jonowoolley