[PLUG] ITR filing w/o proprietary s/w

jayant ogale jaogale at yahoo.co.in
Sun Aug 28 23:33:59 IST 2011

That time of the year, when invariably this frustration arises in many
FOSS users' minds and invariably such discussion threads come up in
various mailing lists and die down.

Nobody knows how to change the system, or how to even wake it up to what
horrendous choice they have made by forcing to buy proprietary software.
They simply claim online return filing is "free".

Once in a while representations are made by FOSS enthusiasts' groups to
the Govt, some talk of PIL comes up and dies down.

Some enthusiasts have ported the forms to OpenOffice, but they have done
that only for one odd form for one odd year's version. Commendable effort
though not sufficient for all.

To complicate life, the forms do undergo minor revisions every year, and
even during a given return filing season. It's likely to undergo a major
revision whenever a new tax code comes into force.

Some (rather many) simply subscribe to paid online or offline services for
this purpose. The pain (I find) with this is, you still are responsible
for what they file and end up spending a good amount of time ensuring the
correctness and find annoying defects at times with what your vendor has
prepared as your IT return. You end up paying them for educating them at

This year I'm starting this thread after the "return filing season" has
subsided, so that at least next year we can save the humiliation for

No, this time not suggesting PIL, representation to Govt and all.

Let's try to deal with it technically. What would it take to create the
"xml" that one has to finally upload be prepared by hand? Its schema is
available. What needs to be extracted from their Excel is some
auto-computed fields' rules and some validation rules. Is it possible to
reliably extract the macros from Excel forms and mimic them into an
offline utility?

Has anyone tried anything like that. (Salute to you if you have.)

Any ideas on this are welcome.


my openion is:- the solution to this problem is to file a writ petition in the public interest not only for IT returns but for all the govt. documents. court should make it compulsary foss compatibility , for all govt. sites. for that matter, if any of us is an advocate or any active advocate on the side of foss, should come forward and we will support him.

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