Saturday, August 11, 2012

VBA Macros of Indian Income Tax forms failed on current LibreOffice

I had experimented with filing Indian tax returns using OpenOffice earlier. Last year, I had used LibreOffice and filed my return. The effort was minimal as I had not felt the need to document it.

This year, the result was painful. The simplest of forms failed with LibreOffice 3.5 and I could not even make any sense of the problems. I tried older versions (3.4) that I found on some of my partitions and those failed as well.

In desperation, as the deadline was approaching, I downloaded OpenOffice and, surprisingly, that worked on ITR1 (simplest return). However, editing the macros needed for the other forms was a pain. Running the macro from within the editor started the execution from the first line of the file and not from the selected macro. I found the behavior confusing in comparison to LibreOffice and preferred to give up :)

I realized that I had used version 3.3 last year and I had an old partition with an old version of ArchLinux - which had the 'right' version of LibreOffice. The process of filling the tax return forms was very tedious. I had to find the password for the sheets, unlock them and make some manual changes to the cell formulas. However, at the end of it, I did manage to submit the returns using the open source tools.

I had planned to experiment and see if I can find out what changed from LibreOffice 3.3 to 3.4 to cause this 'regression' but now I will wait till the 3.6 version is available through ArchLinux or Fedora.

Meanwhile, I plan to preserve the old ArchLinux partition for next year and, hopefully, thanks to this entry, I won't struggle too much.