For 15 years, Australian Mac users have been campaigning to be able to lodge their tax returns online and not have to use a Windows machine or software such as Parallels (to run Windows inside OS X) in order to do so.
And the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has been listening.
The etax for Mac software was due to be released last year, but was delayed because, as Steven Hamilton, the ATO’S first assistant commissioner, told the ZDNet website, ”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.”
Perhaps they needed to wait another year, because, when the software was released to the ATO website on the morning of 30 June, things did not go smoothly.
Melbourne’s The Age newspaper reported that ”Unfortunately many of those who downloaded the application between Friday and Monday encountered an error preventing installation. The error stems from the Tax Office not signing the application with a digital certificate.”
Applications for Macs are generally signed by their developers with a certificate available from Apple, which usually costs about $99 a year.
Following a barrage of complaints and help desk requests, the Tax Office said it was aware of the missing certificate and released a statement on Monday saying, “It should have been included in the release that went to production on Friday.”
By Tuesday morning, the certificate appeared to be in place, although other issues were apparently causing problems for users – with many of them using forums like Whirlpool as an outlet for their grievances.
Persistence is paying off for some users though. The Tax Office told The Age that, as of 9am Tuesday, it had received “2198 etax lodgements via Macs and 19,608 lodgements via Windows”.