France’s tax department is willing to make the source code available for its income tax software system, says Axelle Lemaire, minister responsible for Digital Affairs. However, preparation takes time, she told April, France’s free software advocacy group, last month.
France could be making more code of its software systems publicly available, suggests minister Lemaire. She is considering to apply an advise by France’s Freedom Of Information authority - the Commission d'accès aux documents administratifs (CADA) - to other government software solutions. This could be part of making available data that is of interest to the general public, the Minister says.
Minister Lemaire wants to include CADA’s recommendation in a law following the introduction of France’s Digital Strategy. This strategy was officially presented at a public meeting in Paris on 18 June. She aims to give CADA a bigger role in making data publicly available.
Illuminating tax code
In January, CADA published a non-binding recommendation that the source code for France’s income tax software should be made publicly accessible. The intervention followed a FOI request by a computer scientist, who wanted to study the code. The period to oppose CADA’s advise has passed, but the tax department has neither objected nor made any code available.
That is why on 18 June Apil asked the minister to comment. “Alternatively, the scientist would have to take the Tax Department to court”, April explained.
Minister Lemaire reassured executive director of April Frédéric Couchet that the Tax Department director is aware of the CADA ruling. The department is coordinating with CADA to adapt its in-house IT systems to accommodate the decision, she said.
The Tax Department is willing to cooperate, reported the French IT magazine Next Inpact in May. The IT publication hints that the tax source code can reveal the finest details, including biases in the interpretation of tax law.