I previously wrote a comparison of free, open source accounting software. Most of these applications only come with a generic Chart of Accounts and no support for tax reporting. This makes them suitable for personal finances and small volunteer groups. For many freelance workers, consultants and small businesses, it is now essential to have some basic tax reporting.
Tryton is one of the few packages that is now addressing these needs. The Tryton modules directory includes five official localizations with a business-ready chart of accounts and tax codes. A discussion in the forum reveals more countries coming soon.
I had a look at how to add more, starting with Switzerland and I'm sharing my observations here for anybody else who wants to try this. The procedure described here is valid for any accounting software but I give examples with Tryton.
To avoid duplication, it is a really good idea to search the forum and search the bug tracker to see if anybody else is working on the same country. If you are first, you can publish an announcement in each of these places so other people can find you.
Many hands make light work.
Translation of the user interface into your local language is independent from the localization effort. For example, if you have a team of five people sharing the workload, three people could work on translation while two people work on the chart of accounts and tax codes.
People who want to translate Tryton can find details here. Please open a bug asking for your language to be added to the list for contributions. Here is an example of how to file the bug report to begin adding your language.
Before starting, it is a good idea to find all of the following and create links to them from the forum topic or bug tracker for your country:
I created a short script that converts a CSV file into a Tryton XML file. This makes it easy to edit the initial draft Chart of Accounts in a spreadsheet. You need to edit the script to include your CSV filename and list of languages.
Please see all the columns used in the Swiss Chart of Accounts spreadsheet here. The script needs all these columns. You can add the account names in multiple languages, simply add an extra column for each language.
Save or export your spreadsheet as a CSV. Run the script to process it.
It is a good idea to create an empty database using one of the supported countries, for example, France so that you can see what the finished result looks like. Look at the tax code tree on-screen and compare it to a copy of the French VAT return form. Try to understand how the tree heirarchy relates to the form structure.
Here is the Swiss example:
Notice the Swiss VAT form has three sections and each one is a different subtree. They don't easily combine into a single tree. The circled numbers (1), (2) and (3) in the drawing correspond to the sections of the form.
It is a good idea to share this diagram so other people can see how you designed the tax codes.
If you look at one of the existing countries, for example, the XML file for French taxes, it may appear quite intimidating. It is 3,629 lines.
If you go about it in the right order then it becomes manageable.
Here are the steps from the original document, the tree drawing, the XML and the final view: