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Hong Kong's IRD does it right

Stefan Hammond | Aug. 5, 2013
As a technology journalist, I received many press releases promising "solutions." This particular word—"solutions"—is troublesome.

After getting an Internet connection, I attempted to log into my text account. When I received the screen telling me that I was not allowed to login—something I had become familiar with—there was an audible gasp from the IRD technicians. They immediately started suggesting ways to debug my problem. It was interesting to see their reaction: and they're clearly used to seeing their system work on any given user set up, and rarely encounter the screen—that's my guess anyway.

We then went through a series of Java enabling/disabling troubleshooting procedures. The bottom-line: they were able to make my login work not only on Safari, but also on Firefox.

I asked Chan to send me an email detailing some of the steps involved, based on our mutual experience. He was kind enough to do so and I reproduce much of the email below. If you're having trouble filing your online return, this may help. But first of all, contact the IRD.

"Thanks a lot for your visit to our office on 30 July 2013 to discuss the technical problem you encountered in using your Apple laptop to access eTAX services,." wrote Chan. "As per your request, the actions taken in resolving the problem are given below for your information."

Here's the IRD's information:

For web browser Safari,

1. Check the Apple laptop setting and find that Java 7 update 25 (latest update version) has been installed.

2. Log into eTAX using web browser Safari.

3. Click the "Inactive Plug-in" icon prompted in the loading page to allow Safari to run Java applet in eTAX website.

4. Click the "Continue" or "Run" button on the warning boxes (which allow the Java applet to run), and then the eTAX login page appears.

For web browser Firefox,

1. Log into eTAX using web browser Firefox 22 (latest version) and a message listing "unknown Java Virtual Machine" appears.

2. Go to plug-in setup manual in Firefox setting. Disable Java plug-in and then enable Java plug-in again.

3. Restart Firefox.

4. Go to Java test site ( to test whether Java is working.

5. Click the "Continue" or "Run" button on the warning boxes (which allow the Java applet to run), and then the eTAX login page appears.

I should add that the "Continue" or "Run" buttons appear on several warning pages. You may have to click on four or five of them, so be sure not to click "Cancel."

As for follow-up, the IRD computer text said they will "refine the relevant eTAX FAQs to provide more user-friendly guides in resolving eTAX technical problems."

And they added: "should you encounter any other problems in using eTAX services, please feel free to contact us. Thanks again for your continued support to our eTAX services.

I had a problem, and I was given a solution. In the best of all technical worlds, that's how it works. So thanks to the IRD computer department. They're doing things right.


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