In one of the wackiest developments of 2021 so far, the South African Revenue Service has launched its own web browser. Why, you ask? Because it’s the only place where citizens of South Africa can easily access eFiling and submit tax forms after Adobe killed off Flash Player officially in 2020.
The death of Flash was all but a surprise too. Back 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. That’s… not something you want to subject your financial information to, yeah?
SARS and its patches
Anyway. So SARS had to think on its feet and put pressure on the IT staff to make some of its eFiling forms accessible to the public. Luckily it has already ported some of the most-used forms to the newer, faster, better HTML 5. But not everything. So it did what any normal public service provider would do… Move away from Fl…
Oh, no. That’s not what happened. On Sunday, 24 January, SARS announced on its social platforms and website that it had launched a brand new browser that supports Flash. Crisis averted, right? No. This newly designed browser (that can only be used to access SARS platforms) only works on Windows devices, and isn’t at all downloadable on macOS or Linux machines.
Regardless of the fact that SARS is cutting a whole chunk of its client base by launching this platform, it doesn’t seem like a long-term solution for a problem that could’ve been solved in the past four years. If anyone needs a Windows machine to do their taxes, we may have one in a cupboard somewhere.