As part of FSFLA's campaign against "Softwares Impostos", we have written an article and letters to Receita Federal (Brazilian IRS) that explain why its decision to require taxpayers to use non-Free Software violates constitutional principles and citizens' fundamental constitutional rights, imposes various juridic risks upon taxpayers, including compulsory copyright infringement, and unlawfully discriminates against political and philosophical convictions.

FSFLA's Brazilian board members have written and sent the letters below to Receita Federal, summarizing the main points of the article published at http://www.fsfla.org/?q=pt/node/143 (so far only in Portuguese). We urge citizens and taxpayers to send their own letters to Receita Federal at https://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/dvssl/atbhe/falecon/comum/asp/env_msg.asp?id=31. Copies of your letters are welcome at softwares-impostos@fsfla.org.

FSFLA invites Receita Federal to act on these requests before IRPF2007 is released, and to contact us as soon as possible to seek an amicable resolution.

Meanwhile, FSFLA urges citizens to pursue their rights, invites the Public Ministry and the Republic's General Attorney Office to support citizens in this pursuit, and offers its mailing list on legal issues, legales@fsfla.org, to lawyers and laymen interested in planning legal action, should it prove necessary. Alternate communication methods can be arranged should the need for confidentiality arise.

The IRPF2007 release is scheduled to March 1st, so don't wait! Send your letter right away!

About FSFLA

FSFLA joined in 2005 the FSF network, previously formed by Free Software Foundations in the United States, in Europe and in India. These sister organizations work in their corresponding geographies towards promoting the same Free Software ideals and defending the same freedoms for software users and developers, working locally but cooperating globally. For more information about FSFLA and to contribute to our work, visit our web site at http://www.fsfla.org or write to info@fsfla.org.

Press contacts

Alexandre Oliva
Board member, FSFLA
lxoliva@fsfla.org
+55 19 9714-3658 / 3243-5233

Pedro A.D. Rezende
Board member, FSFLA
prezende@fsfla.org
+55 61 3368-6031 / 3307-2482

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Copyright 2007 FSFLA

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this entire document without royalty provided the copyright notice, the document's official URL, and this permission notice are preserved.

http://www.fsfla.org/?q=en/node/145

Letters sent to Receita Federal

(translated to English)

Dear Mr. Jorge Antonio Deher Rachid, Secretary of Receita Federal,

I hereby request your assistance to address some difficulties I've had in complying with my tax obligations. There are more details at http://www.fsfla.org/?q=pt/node/143 (in Portuguese).

According to Article 5.XXXIII of the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, and to the transparency it demands from the public administration, I understand I'm entitled to receive from SRF information of private or collective interest. I request, thus, the source code of all software provided by SRF for purposes of preparation and delivery of income tax declarations.

My interest in this source code is related with my philosophical beliefs as Free Software advocate. I understand that philosophical discrimination is not permitted by the constitution, also per Article 5.VIII and .XLI.

So I'd like to obtain permission from SRF to adapt its programs to Free operating systems and/or Java virtual machines, and to offer the result of my modifications to others who share my beliefs.

To this end, it would be enough for SRF to license these programs, whose copyright it holds, under a Free Software license. I understand SRF's software, without any license whatsoever, imposes on taxpayers the violation of article 9 of law 9609/98, who incur the penalties described in article 12 of law 9610/98, with the aggravation of ยง 3.I. SRF can be held liable for this, so immediate corrective action is recommended.

The referenced article details these and other technical and legal problems related with juridic insecurity and the violation of constitutional principles and taxpayers' fundamental citizen rights, that SRF has been conducting.

I thank you in advance for your prompt cooperation towards addressing in an amicable way these certainly unintentional transgressions.

Yours respectfully,

Alexandre Oliva

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Dear Mr. Jorge Antonio Deher Rachid, Secretary of Receita Federal,

I seek, by means of this letter, to point out problems detailed in http://www.fsfla.org/?q=pt/node/143 (in Portuguese), that I co-authored, and request appropriate measures to address them.

I find RF's dependency on proprietary information technologies and the imposition of these inscrutable and inauditable on taxpayers disturbing. I recommend, according to government standard e-PING 2.0, the adoption of standards, formats and software under free licenses.

As researcher in cryptography and security, I'm concerned about taxpayers of whom electronic submission of tax forms is required, for public scrutiny of the employed programs, formats and protocols is impossible, requiring blind trust on the technical abilities and ethical infallibility of RF's employees.

As far as we can see through the obscurity of the process, taxpayers who submit their declarations over the Internet are exposed to multiple technical and juridic risks that, among other things, also represent pressure and responsibility overload upon Receita's own internal auditing.

I cite, for the sake of an example, the impossibility for a taxpayer to demonstrate, to her/himself and before third parties, that the forms s/he filled have been transmitted and processed according to the norms and without adulteration. In case of questioning, the best someone who needs to face RF on court can do is to present an electronic receipt, also alterable or falsifiable at the source, that only RF itself can validate, in a potentially vitiated way by whoever possesses controls over its processing.

It also frustrates me that I cannot verify whether technical mechanisms are already in use that enable effective internal auditing, and that may offer taxpayers legal evidence, should they be formally accused by tax authorities of defaulting their tax obligations.

Certain of being able to count on your cooperation,

Pedro Antonio Dourado de Rezende

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Dear Mr. Jorge Antonio Deher Rachid, Secretary of Receita Federal,

Based on the article http://www.fsfla.org/?q=pt/node/143 (in Portuguese), I hereby request actions towards helping address some concerns I have.

Residents abroad are not allowed to present their income tax declarations in non-electronic formats. Since I live abroad, this causes me concern and trouble, for myself and for others in the same situation.

Trouble, because I'm a Free Software advocate, and it's disturbing to not only be required to use non-Free Software, but also to watch the Brazilian public administration promote, through its choice of platform for this program, other non-Free Softwares, infringing even on the constitutional principle of impersonality.

Concern, because, being trained in computing, I understand it's not possible to trust software that won't permit inspection and auditing; secret file formats; or allegedly-secure secret communication protocols.

In order to guarantee the transparency of the process and taxpayers' legal safety, it would be necessary for taxpayers to have access to the source code of the programs, or at least to the specifications of protocols and file formats, such that we could develop our own programs.

It would certainly be more efficient if we could inspect and use Receita Federal's own programs, on software platforms that respected our philosophical beliefs. For this reason, I suggest Receita Federal to distribute its programs under the terms of some Free Software license that ensures that any taxpayer who receives the program is entitled to run it legitimately, study it, adapt it to her own needs and distribute it, with or without modifications.

I count on your support to solve the problems pointed out above, and offer FSFLA's assistance for clarifications and joint efforts to this end.

Fernanda Giroleti Weiden