France has officially opened the source code of the fiscal calculator used by the French fiscal administration to calculate the income taxes of individuals in France. Taxes for businesses are not included in the code.
The tax calculator code source is now freely accessible on Framesoft’s GitLab platform and duplicated on GitHub. The OpenFisca Team, which supports the software on forum.openfisca.fr, developed modules to help developers use the applications, said Emmanuel Raviart, from Etalab, which is in charge of the open data strategy in France.
“Transparency is necessary to enhance trust in the fiscal system”, said France's Finance Minister, Michel Sapin. The Minister attended this morning's CodeImpot hackaton. The meeting aimed at bringing together developers, tax specialists, startups, designers and scientists to make applications and innovative projects emerge from the newly-released source code.
The hackathon should be used to develop services “that strengthen trust between citizens and taxes”, Sapin said. For him, Income tax in France is complex in terms of “citizen's personalisation”. By opening the tax calculator France also aims to help people better understand how taxes are calculated.
Axelle Lemaire, Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, who also attended the hackathon, said that opening the tax calculator is a “progress” in transparency and innovation, highlighting collaboration between administrative departments. “DGFIP (Direction general des Finances publiques, in charge of public finances) is a pioneer. What we need to do now is to convince the other ministries to open their source code”, she said.
A long legal process
Opening the calculator is the result of a long legal procedure. It originated with a code source request from a student working at SGMAP (Le secrétariat général pour la modernisation de l’action publique - the General Secretariat for the Modernisation of Public Action). He requested the code for the calculator to build parts of the OpenFisca project, a fiscal micro-simulator. CADA , the French authority in charge of in charge information access, gave its approval, but DGFIP did not.
In the end, Paris’ administrative court (“tribunal administratif de Paris”) concluded that the source code of software written by and for public authorities can be considered to be an administrative document and can be freely accessed.
Access to algorithms that control public calculations is also covered by the draft law République Numérique (Article 2).