Sunday, 29 September 2013

Running E-tax 2013 on Ubuntu 13.10

E-tax is the Australian Tax Office's antiquated Windows software for completing and filing personal tax returns. It's possible to run it under Linux using Wine. Here are the steps for Ubuntu 13.10. It should also work on older versions of Ubuntu and possibly other Debian derivatives.
  • export WINEARCH=win32
  • sudo apt-get install winetricks
  • winetricks msxml4
  • wget http://www.ato.gov.au/misc/downloads/etax2013/etax2013_1.msi
  • msiexec /i etax2013_1.msi

Update 14/10/2013

When filling out my spouse's details I noticed that the radio buttons for spouse's gender were disabled.  At the time I just assumed they no longer considered the question relevant and didn't think more of it.  However, when I went to lodge my tax return I got the cryptic error
V2357 - Spouse's ATI amount for income test purposes is incorrect.
I couldn't work out what the problem was so eventually ended up booting up an old laptop with Windows Vista, installing e-Tax on it and copying my tax file across.  That didn't resolve the error, but at least I could view the error description in the help docs, which basically just said call the ATO personal tax help line if you get this error.

Of course I was doing this on a Saturday afternoon and the help line is only open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday so I had to wait until Monday morning.  I called the help line, got transferred to e-Tax technical support then back to the help line before I got someone who was able to help.  After 45 minutes on the phone, we eventually determined that the problem was with the aforementioned spouse's gender radio button.  It turns out that on Vista the buttons do work and once I entered the correct gender the error went away.

Note to the ATO's e-Tax developers: would it have been so hard to supply a meaningful error message so I didn't have to waste so much of my time and your help desk's time on this trivial issue?

References

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