Proving that local Australian talent can succeed against the giants of industry, three developers have formed the Australian Electronics Initiative (AEI). Consisting of Elcom Technology, Leads Plus and Teletax Systems the consortium has won a tender put forward by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to implement a total e-commerce solution, coined e-tax.
According to Dolores Esteves, managing director of Leads Plus and a director of AEI, the consortium was considerably surprised to have won out against the three or four other competitors, which she assumed were the likes of IBM and Merryl Lynch.
"We were so excited, three small companies who had worked nights and weekends had won. I put it down to the fact that we cared about it more than bigger organisations would have, plus the fact that the IT solution was technically brilliant."
According to Elcom's John Anstey, another AEI director, Elcom is responsible for the IT infrastructure and Internet aspect of the unit and has designed the application for self-lodging individuals, which are those that do not use a tax agent under the present taxation system. The applications include a series of prompts and an interview process that guides you through the entire process.
"An online certification authority program can issue a person with an electronic signature. From there the benefits are endless. The program has error checks so that the data the ATO gets is accurate, customers get an electronic return within 14 days and people in remote areas can lodge a tax return easily," Anstey said.
This technology is combined with a call centre designed and run by Leads Plus that provides a helpdesk and general e-tax support. To round off the total solution Teletax contributed a software package that is responsible for the particular financial applications.
It has been two years since AEI won the right to implement this system and during that period the consortium has used a pilot group to simulate lodging of returns through discs. This was to test the hardware and ATO interface. This year has seen the system go one step further with an online series of tests that involves the participation of 5000 tax payers.
So far AEI claims everything is running smoothly, and according to Esteves, the ATO is expecting to go fully online by the end of the financial year.