[ubuntu-za] SARS site

Matthew French matthew at gillyweed.co.za
Tue Jul 5 21:37:02 UTC 2016

>> On 05/07/2016 15:09, Marius Bock wrote:
>>> The internal Chrome/Chromium PDF viewer cannot display SARS PDF files.  

> On 05 Jul 2016, at 3:16 PM, Jan Greeff <jan at verslank.net> wrote:
> In my opinion somebody in the know and with clout should take SARS and the Govt on about this issue. 

For what it is worth, I have written several snotty letters to SARS about this, and even one to the SARS commissioner. But the response has uniformly been to ignore it. Of course I’m complaining to non-technical people to whom it is almost impossible to convey the number of ways their PDF system offends me. I’m sure they must think I’m a raving loon… 

Most of my experience has been with the VAT forms. In the old days they had this HTML POST form with some kinky javascript that just worked. In five minutes I could put in my VAT numbers, check the results and be done with the process. Then they changed to this PDF system. Capturing information is a pain, the forms jump all over the place, and decimal points are added at random locations - which can be a problem when dealing with tens or hundreds of thousands of rands. And of course the best bit is it doesn’t work reliably on Linux. Or OSX. Or, ironically, Windows.

Some months my VAT submissions were late because the forms just didn’t work. Or they suddenly depended on a newer version of Adobe than the one I had installed. On a couple of occasions, the forms would work on my Mac, but not on my Windows box. So they weren’t even consistently awful.

Fortunately I pay someone else to deal with my personal tax so muddling through the PAYE forms is his problem. But from what I have seen, there would have been some, er…, unprofessional behaviour if I ever had to deal with them myself. 

What I find most depressing is the PDF forms are a solution in search of a problem. There are many ways to capture data on a web page and, if you really need to, to generate a completely portable PDF. There are many ways to write offline apps that can upload the data - via e-mail if need be.   I am mystified as to what benefit Adobe brings to the process[1]?!?


- Matthew

[1] I have worked in many large organisations, and am cynical by nature. Put these two together and it is not hard to imagine the thought process behind the decision. Roughly described as: we have this hammer, what can we nail? And before someone else says it, I don’t believe it involved corruption - I’m sure that on paper (or was it PDF?) it looked like the right decision. 

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