Tuesday, 20 March 2007 11:52

Taxman's Damascus moment: not all computers run Windows

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The Australian Taxation Office's e-tax online tax return lodgement system goes from strength to strength - and finally there are signs that people running Mac OS X or Linux will get a chance to use it. But don't hold your breath - the changes won't arrive until 2009 at the earliest.
Although more tax returns are lodged electronically than on paper, many of them are made by tax agents on behalf of their clients. Still, over 1.6 million taxpayers - almost three-quarters of them repeat users from the previous year - used e-tax to lodge their 2005-06 returns. This represents an increase of almost 18 percent on the previous year, even though the software only works with Windows.
Users of Mac OS X, Linux and other operating systems may get a look-in sometime in the next few years.

"[We] will redevelop e-tax to make it compatible with any computer system that has internet access. We will test this with a small group of users in 2008," wrote the Commissioner of Taxation, Michael D’Ascenzo.

If the trial is successful, it will be extended to taxpayers at large "in future years".

The 2006-07 version of e-tax will have an enhanced ability to download information from various sources including more than 20 banks and credit unions (interest), share registries and fund managers (dividends), the Department of Veterans Affairs (pensions), the Department of Education, Science and Training (allowances), Medicare Australia (out of pocket medical expenses).

The Australian Taxation Office will also pilot an e-tax facility that will automatically load taxpayers' salary and wage information as reported by their employers. This will be especially useful for people with very simple tax affairs.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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