Let us be clear about this: some have said, what’s the big deal? Mac or Linux users are no worse off than people without computers who also lose out on the benefits of eTax. That’s not the point. Someone buying a popular (if not the most popular) computer platform may have their choice swayed if a major, mainstream application is not available. If you want to use a Windows machine, a Mac or a Linux system, you have good options for spreadsheets, word processing, email, web surfing, personal accounts etc. on all of them. A government agency such as the Tax Office ought not to be swinging competitiveness of rival computing platforms towards creating a monopoly.
If you want to make your voice heard, here are two things you can do:
What will I do with the petition? Once it’s reached 1,000 signatures I will alert the ATO, Wayne Swan, Joe Hockey and Bob Brown as to its existence. I will challenge each of them to take action.
The results count below includes a few bogus signatures that I’ve trimmed:
To illustrate the standards of other countries, here are some that support at least 2 platforms:
- South Africa: Mac plus Windows
- USA: Mac plus Windows – as far as I can tell the IRS also publishes the spec so anyone can develop software for electronic filing
- UK – online filing, with options to submit information in more complex cases from other software (available from private sources, so a good guess is that the spec is available).
In summary, we are not talking about an insoluble problem. Even a developing country does better, and it’s not because Macs are much more popular in South Africa than in Australia. They represent an even smaller niche there than here.