What went wrong with the project?

How could IRD have discovered so late in the piece that the promised cross-platform support in its Web-based electronic filing system was not possible? The answer seems to lie in one of the development advantages of Microsoft's server gated crypto - and in the very nature of the Web-based project itself.

How could IRD have discovered so late in the piece that the promised cross-platform support in its Web-based electronic filing system was not possible?

The answer seems to lie in one of the development advantages of Microsoft's server gated crypto - and in the very nature of the Web-based project itself.

Using server gated crypto, a Web browser can simply "switch on" strong encryption if it sees an appropriate digital certificate at the back end of the host system. This allows applications to be developed with 40-bit encryption and switched to 128-bit by the addition of the certificate and it may be this is what happened at IRD.

The US Internal Revenue Service has overcome a false start over security concerns in 1996 to handle an increasing volume of electronic tax filings under its E-File system. Many US state authorities have followed suit.

But none of them appear to offer browser access to their schemes, instead working with dedicated client software from a list of approved suppliers, such as Intuit, and, often third parties who collect and forward filings from individual taxpayers. Intuit itself offers browser-based personal tax filings via its WebTurboTax online software. It supports both Windows and Mac clients.

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