E-tax for Mac finally released

As Australia begins a new financial year, the Australian Taxation Office has finally released a version of its tax return software for Mac.

As Australia enters the new financial year today, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has finally released a version of its tax return software for Mac.

The software was released onto the ATO's website this morning.

Up until this year, the E-tax software that allows Australian taxpayers to fill out their tax returns has only been available on Windows.

Last year , Steven Hamilton, the ATO's first assistant commissioner for enterprise applications, explained to ZDNet that the E-tax software was ready for Mac last year, but the ATO decided to delay the launch because the XE2 platform was new and security was still an outstanding issue to address.

"We needed to make sure we have a very secure channel for taxpayers to lodge their data across the internet to us. Blackbox [security] technology is available, we currently use it for the Windows platform, but because it was new to the Macintosh XE2 platform, we just had to move through some of those concerns with our third-party providers," he said.

"Those concerns have largely been addressed now, and we're working on the secure code elements now, the download, so that that can't be hacked at the front end."

Prior to this year, Mac users who wanted to submit their returns via E-tax would either had to find a Windows machine, or use software such as Parallels to run Windows inside OS X. The ATO made the software tax deductible as a result.

ZDNet revealed last month that the cost of planning and developing E-tax for Mac had so far cost the Australian taxpayers AU$4.7 million, while the Windows version cost AU$39.1 million to plan, develop, maintain, and update.

Although the software is not available on any other platforms yet, the ATO has been considering developing a web-based E-tax platform that would remove the need to make individual software packages for each operating system. This is in the early stages, but the ATO told ZDNet that it has already spent AU$1.8 million on looking at developing E-tax for other platforms, including Linux, mobile, and for the web.