Home Technology Instead of just upgrading its site, SARS has built a Flash-enabled browser just for E-filing

Instead of just upgrading its site, SARS has built a Flash-enabled browser just for E-filing

2 min read

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the bold ineptitude of certain South African state enterprises. The South African Revenue Service, which is usually one of the most well-run state enterprises in the country, was left with plenty of egg on its face when the support of Flash came to an end. SARS had failed to update its website, which relied heavily on Flash, to be ready for the change in how web browsers work. And it’s not as if it wasn’t aware of this, as it had over two years to prepare.

Perhaps this sort of failure to be proactive is something we should expect from many government organisations, but nothing can prepare us for what SARS intended to do to fix the problem. SARS tweeted about how it had built its own Flash-supported web browser to allow people to still submit all their relevant tax information.

That’s right, rather than spend effort on simply updating its website to support modern technologies, SARS created a new web browser to keep that old plug-in alive. Never mind the fact that web browsers are extremely difficult to create, given all the different security protocols that are required, so I’m not sure exactly how good this web browser will be even if its sole purpose is to be used for SARS forms. (Also, as has been pointed out after this article was published, this new browser doesn’t even work on Mac or Linux!)

I guess considering that tax information is required for submission at the end of February and the new tax return season opens up shortly thereafter, SARS felt like a rushed web browser was the only option available. A pity that foresight couldn’t have been added a few years ago.

People are already having difficulty moving away from Internet Explorer, so giving them yet another browser to use to submit their tax information jut seems like a rather bizarre idea. Perhaps our government believes it has what it takes to be a large tech company too. With plans for the SABC to build its own streaming service and now SARS creating a browser of its own, they certainly want to play with the big boys.

Just a pity then that SA institutions have already proven that they have no clue what they are doing from a technology perspective.     

Last Updated: January 26, 2021


  1. MaSeKind

    January 26, 2021 at 03:47

    Actually they had about 3 and a half years. Still hilarious though.

    Also it only works on Windows so if you’re a Mac or Linux user you don’t need to do tax returns anymore!

    Definite going to be checking out what they did. Assuming they used Chromium as the base. But obviously an older version that still had the support for Flash. So browser is probably not that dodgy, but the continued Flash support opens up all those vulnerabilities


    • HvR

      January 26, 2021 at 05:55

      And that is if you go with the official announcement; conservatively they had 7 years when even fucking Adobe went nah fuck this POS.


  2. justlikemo

    January 26, 2021 at 04:41

    It’s not always as simple and clear cut as they just replacing flash, I worked with the team that was hired by SARS to implement e-filing more than 100 years ago, the solution is designed around an application that cannot just replace flash, as it references that software using flash frontend, in order to replace flash they would have to redesign entire front end, and this software was not developed locally. With that said government organization with all their delayed processes would take forever to get the entire system replaced, hence we are now meant to wait another year if not more for vaccines as our procurement processes are so brilliant.


    • Mark Treloar

      January 26, 2021 at 05:23

      Government had plenty of time to mitigate this. but yes the reliance on flash is built into easy file that businesses use for submitting IRP5’s and PAYE every month


    • HvR

      January 26, 2021 at 05:48

      So you were part of the Drakensberg Boy Choir that implemented the original system?


  3. For the Emperor!

    January 26, 2021 at 05:21

    Wait, wasn’t there the Acrobat option as well?

    But either way: Probably due to some tenderpreneurship…


  4. HvR

    January 26, 2021 at 05:45

    SARS protect me from yourself


  5. Phillip Peterson

    January 26, 2021 at 22:58

    It really doesn’t sound like SARS did anything here except throw some money around, the only support partner that will assist enterprises with this issue from this year forward is Harman which sells packaged browser solutions, a browser including flash.

    Their base solution offering starts at around $25 000

    The alternative is that the same SARS IT department that didn’t react to a 3 year long notice managed to write their own browser in just under two weeks


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