In December 2020, we lost an age-old friend. One that gave PC users a variety of capabilities in emerging application solutions. Adobe has blocked all content from running in the once-popular Flash Player after 27 years. So why is the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) online eFiling platform still running on the software?
Even worse, SARS recently pushed citizens to use the online platform during lockdown level 3. It has decided to close branches in the midst of an uptick in COVID infections — and that’s commendable. But the service clearly lacks the digital resources to support the influx of people on the eFiling platform.
SARS offices will continue to operate remotely via our digital channels:https://t.co/WCbHb4I7pz
— SA Revenue Service (@sarstax) December 30, 2020
The death of Flash was all but a surprise too. In 2017, tech firms including Microsoft and Google announced that they would kill off support for the plugin. That’s because newer technologies are ample and serve as far better foundations for new, richer content and applications. Even more, security has been an issue for Flash over the years — it was particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
It’s about time, SARS
In December, Business Insider spoke to a SARS spokesperson about porting its services to newer technologies. “SARS said that it anticipated this scenario and is in a process of mitigating the risks and ensuring an easy and seamless service for taxpayers, tax practitioners and traders who interact with the revenue service,” it said on 5 December 2020.
Since then, it has replaced some of the higher priority forms (income tax for individuals, companies, trusts, IRP6 provisional tax returns, payroll taxes) on its platform with HTML5 technology. However, some lower priority forms haven’t been ported yet. This was fine for the time being because Flash was still supported in certain browsers following its end-of-life on 31 December 2020.
SARS is aware of certain forms not loading correctly due to Adobe Flash. We are currently working on resolving the matter and will advise once the problem has been resolved. We sincerely apologise for the current inconvenience.
— SA Revenue Service (@sarstax) January 12, 2021
That came to an end in early January when SARS suddenly realised that Flash is not supported on these browsers anymore. According to its Twitter profile, SARS scrambled to find workarounds to enable people to use some of its forms.
Developers working on the eFiling platform have had a good 20 years to update its technologies and make sure the platform stays relevant and able to function. Especially considering the South African government’s focus on the fourth industrial revolution in recent years.