Use Windows or risk a fine?
Disturbing news from Slovakia reaches the lab via the FSFE. The east European state recently introduced legislation to help cut red tape by mandating the use of electronic filing of monthly VAT returns by businesses. However, the Slovakian state’s web application failed to observe interoperability guidelines and only works in Internet Explorer on Windows. EURA Slovakia, s.r.o, a local textile importer, thought that state had no right to force it to use specific software and a certain operating system for its business and fulfilled its legal obligations by submitting paper. Now the company faces € 5,600 in fines.
“This situation is absurd. If another public body decides to use an Apple-only solution for its public services, should then everybody buy Apple’s products just to fulfil this legal obligation? How many different products should citizens and companies have to buy just to comply with all the different laws?” asks Martin Husovec, a member of the FSFE Legal team, who is now assisting EURA Slovakia, s.r.o in appealing against the fines in court.
Husovec adds that for the past 2 years, the Slovak tax authorities have also ignored all complaints, saying that the application would eventually be made platform-independent. A new tax application was made available earlier this year. It is written in Java and runs on multiple operating systems, including Linux. However, for VAT companies are still referred to the older tool. “It shows that the government does not take the issue very seriously. They ignore their responsibility,” declares Husovec.