ATO considers e-tax for Mac OS X

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.

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.