IRPF-Livre 2023 released

Governments come and go, but the oppression of imposed taxing software for taxation remains.

For a lot of people, using software they cannot control is like water for a fish: a part of the environment they're in. When the water is low on oxygen, they may even feel the discomfort, but they seldom trace it back to the root cause.

For us who love, live and breathe software freedom, any program that takes it away, that attempts to control our computing and ultimately ourselves, is painful like a sore toe in a tight shoe.

Uncomfortable and painful as the oxygen-deprived water and the tight shoe might be, being forced to breathe or wear them, prevented from seeking better waters or from taking the shoes out, is unbearable.

We struggle to correct an analogous injustice. We had a chance to relieve one case of imposed taxing software for taxation, so we took it, and held on to it:

Back in 2007, IRPF, the program that Brazilian taxpayers are required to run to prepare their income tax returns, was released without obfuscation, with debug information and surprisingly even under an acceptable license, which enabled us to reverse engineer it and from then on to update the rescued source code.

That relieved the primary oppression, but the government changes the software yearly, so every year brings a new threat to our freedom, and defending it requires duplicating the changes. That, too, is unjustly taxing!

Democratic governments ought to respect our freedom, not threaten it. The tax laws and regulations that the program implements are and must be public code. Nothing that the software is programmed to do should be a secret. The tax returns need to be and are verified after turning in. Nothing justifies making the program freedom depriving.

That it remains so is a manifestation of the bad habit of abusing power through software, of hijacking others' computers to serve one's purposes, without thinking much of it. Thus we draw the fish's attention to the toxic water, and to the root cause of its toxicity.

As we celebrate the 16th anniversary of the IRPF-Livre project, and take the too-tight shoes out by releasing its updates for 2023, we call upon the new Brazilian government, and indeed upon all democratic governments, to quit this bad habit, and to release, under freedom- and transparency-respecting terms, the source code for all government-mandated programs, so that they are not imposed taxing software.

About Imposed Taxing Software

Since 2006, we have been running a campaign against imposed taxing software: programs that are imposed in the sense that you cannot avoid them, and taxing in the sense that they burden you in a way that resembles a tax, but is exempt from social benefits and paid for with your freedom.

Nonfree programs are unjust and too onerous (even when they are nominally gratis), because they imply a loss of freedom, that is, of control over your digital life. When this burden (of suppressed freedom) is compounded with the imposition of use of such programs, they become profoundly oppressive: imposed taxing software.

Our initial focus was on oppressive software imposed by governments, such as mandatory tax-related programs and software required to interact with public banks.

While pressuring the government to liberate income tax software in Brazil, we have been updating and publishing a compatible and freedom-respecting version every year since 2007.

In 2023, we extended the campaign to taxing software imposed by private providers: when freedom-depriving software is required to obtain or enjoy products or services.

To be clear, this campaign is not (solely) about software for taxation, but rather about software that is taxing (an unjust burden, because it taxes your freedom; the software is itself like a tax), and that, on top of that, is imposed, thus profoundly oppressive.

About IRPF-Livre

It's a software development project to prepare Natural Person's Income Tax returns compliant with the standards defined by the Brazilian Secretaria de Receita Federal (IRS), but without the technical and legal insecurity imposed by it.

IRPF-Livre is Free Software, that is, software that respects users' freedom to run it for any purpose, to study its source code and adapt it to their needs, and to distribute copies, modified or not.

The program is available both in source and Java object code forms:


Free Software Foundation Latin America joined in 2005 the international 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.

Copyright 2023 FSFLA

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