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CT600 UK HMRC FreeBSD Acroread

Submitting a CT600 Corporation Tax Return to British HMRC Using FreeBSD With Adobe Acroread (Acrobat Reader)

This is:

Other Texts By Julian H. Stacey

Summary: Yes it can & does work, here's some tips/ notes, however it's raw notes, needs tidying.


  • Year numbers refer to real years when work was done filling forms, & to software versions available at that time. The years do not refer to previous tax year being entered as data.
  • 2012 I started using Acroread on XP (Ugh!), found Acroread also ran on my FreeBSD-i686 & switched to FreeBSD.
  • 2013-09 I used FreeBSD-9.1 amd64 with Linux Acroread xxx, It seemed a lot faster than last year, OK, more powerful laptop, but probably something in the pdf or acrobat had been fixed
    2013 Notes immediately below
  • 2014-09 I used FreeBSD-9.2
    2014 Notes further below
  • 2015-09 Notes further below

2013 Notes


  • Realise you will be running a binary for which Adobe issues no inspect-able source code, thus it is intrinsicly un-trustworthy.
    Might Adobe be tempted to use their binary to also search the computer for other products or data ? If so, they wouldn't be the first USA company to abuse their position. The USA NSA now even spies on its own citizens, & co-erces USA companies to assist in the spying.
  • An untrusted binary such as Acrobat could snaffle any data accessible to user, including but not limited to UK HMRC tax IDs & other data, pass a copy to anyone, inc eg USA's NSA.
  • It's wrong of UK HMRC to require UK citizens to use un-trustworthy software from an alien country to file UK company tax returns.
    HMRC should provide a form that runs with free source software.
  • I took simple precautions:
  • Created new user with no files.
  • Ran the (non SUID) executable as that user.
  • OK, A chroot would be more thorough :-)
  • Note when installing Acrobat the FreeBSD ports wrapper issues warnings:
    ===>   Registering installation for Acroread9-9.5.5
          This port has installed the following files which may act as network
          servers and may therefore pose a remote security risk to the system.
CT600.pdf is Version 2.8.0
After Co Reg No Prefix (blank if not N. Ireland etc)
One can enter a Co. Reg No. with a leading zero into the CT600.pdf data,
but then
After Authentication Code
& click to Authenticate
it will fail until:
Edit Preference Internet proxy from {blank 1080} to eg {manual gate 80 all}
(you will also need to later set proxy in Firefox too: {Edit, Preference, Advanced, Network, Settings}).
Then if you enter company number with a leading zero,
it (the live internet connection via Acroread to authorise)
will fail with "Error 9999 Co not registered for electronic filing"
so this time omit any leading zero.
After submitting Authentication Code it wants an email address,
that might be part of the authentication,
& not just a notification address ?

Bugs/ Problems

  • Adobe Reader has some crisis with AMD (auto mount demon) or NFS (Network File System). I run a heavily cross host AMD symbolic linked common site wide file system. But for Adobe Reader I reduced all access it needed to a local host
  • I ran on local laptop screen after I had auth problems. I successfully use xauth for xterm, firefox & exmh, but not for this Adobe Reader. Maybe I could fix it but I didn't care, I use Adobe Reader just once a year for HMRC.
  • Acroread after viewing CT600Output.pdf stupidly asks "Do you want to save changes" though I've changed nothing, just displayed with Firefox.
  • Acroread after just re-viewing an original copy of CT600.pdf, after exit complains to the invoking shell in xterm, 3 copies of this line: "terminate called after throwing an instance of 'RSException'".


  • Dates & Timezones: The date printed on the PDF enclosures AbbreviatedAccounts.html StatutoryAccounts.html come from local PC & uses local timezone whereas the date of an Internet submission obviously comes from the UK government servers, (so if in September one submits from outside the UK, eg at 00:30 in timezone CEST=+02:00, then the UK also being on summer time at BST=GMT+01:00, legal submission date will be one day earlier than printed on the .pdf. (So watch out if you'r filing on a laptop from America, & you think you'll just scrape in hours before UK deadline, beware, you would fail.)
  • CT600.pdf Original file from HMRC. Has a date stamp in, & after maybe a month you can not edit it, & need to download a new one.
    Certifications are not in the file, but external in the adobe config directory presumably, because with a new login this file first showed uncertified, then later after doing all the trust stuff, & re-running Acroread with original Ct600.pdf, it then showed as blue rosette certified.
  • CT600Output.pdf:
    • A transient file, old versions do not need to be saved.
    • A container file, created periodically by Acroread when clicking on the CT600.pdf labels to "print & review" (or similar wording).
    • The components seem to be in HTML, because after Acroread switches its display from CT600.pdf to CT600Output.pdf, if you then click on eg "Abbreviated Accounts", Acroread invokes Firefox browser.
    • Within Firefox one can get a file to print (or email to a colleague eg to approve accounts) by using Firefox's "Print" then "Save to file".
    • (OK one could also mail the HTML, but that didn't work well on receipt by EXMH-2.7.2 & Some-MS-Reader .
    • (In 2012 I tried emailing the CT600Output.pdf, but that's a 1.7 version PDF, & blew up on recipient (both an MS user & this BSD user had much software with inbuilt tools to display & print PDF, that knew about maybe 1.3 or so format, but broke on 1.7, so it was a pain explicitly ensuring latest Acroread er was invoked on a click, & not some older/other software that could only deal with older PDF formats.
    • First CT600Output.pdf contains just "Abbreviated Accounts", as one works onward through CT600.pdf, CT600Output.pdf then contains both "Abbreviated Accounts" & "Statutory Accounts", then finally (after having submitted "Abbreviated Accounts" to Companies House) CT600Output.pdf contains just "Statutory Accounts" & "Computations"
  • After creating a new user to run Acroread in, with the HMRC CT600.pdf, & completing the CT600, I had all these dot files
    (listed so that if one tries to run Acroread from within a normal user directory & it fails, here's where to look for collisions on preferences etc):
    .Xauthority-n .adobe/ .cache/ .config/ .dbus/ .fontconfig/ .fvwm/ .gconf/ .gconfd/ .gnome2/ .gnome2_private/ .local/ .mozilla/ .xsession-errors

2014 Notes

Click Help, About
Adobe Reader 9.5.5 04/26/2013
Acroread remains excrement software: a greedy slug,
hogging memory & CPU, freezing screen performance
(top shows size 252 Meg & 98 % of CPU ),
CT600.pdf is Version 3.2.0
After loading a CT600.html a making No edits, & rest of machine idle,
16 hours later the CPU fan was still wearing up & down as Acroread
continued to impose load for no reason (also consuming 370 Meg!).
Working with a new empty login  to limit data
access.  Do more help clicking, till it starts firefox to got to
adobe site, then it will fail cos firefox will need to have proxy
set, click the button to include http ssl ftp.
Acroread does not inherit the proxy.
I followed procedure of online-change-settings.pdf
Got a few pages into the CT600 & decided to set proxy:
Edit, Preferences, Internet, Manual, gate, 80
On Authentication page, I first tried company number without leading
zero & it failed to authenticate,
2nd attempt with leading zero & same hand typed Authentication
code worked OK

Notes 2014-Oct-29 onward, (after earlier filing for tax year 2013)

2015 Notes

  • Adobe have removed their software no longer available for Linux.
  • have removed from 11.0-CURRENT ports/print/ acroread8 acroread9 acroreadwrapper. Maybe I'll create retro ports
  • Scratching around to see other solutions:
    • Quote from January 7, 2015.: I used GnuCash's UK VAT Accounts template (even though F&T was not VAT registered in the accounting period, this provides some future proofing).
    • Dec 4 '14 Only solution was to install Adobe Reader for Windows XP: I have Windows XP running as a VM using VirtualBox. That worked OK. Hopefully, this problem will not be there for next year's company accounts & tax return as HMRC told me that they will not be using Adobe Reader writing to a downloaded (from HMRC) CT600 pdf file but will instead be completing a CT600 form directly on their website. This is the method used for HMRC personal tax returns, which work OK.
  • Try to run acrobat on some spare host, not your workstation that serves your main screen, as Acrobat uses masses of CPU.
  • Try to run Acrobat window on a spare (X11) screen such as a networked laptop etc. Not main on main worstation/ desktop, as Acrobat screen refresh is as slow as watching a glacier melt; just moving mouse between a text notes file & acrobat can takes minutes to screen refresh. Yes I have a panelling window manager (fvwm) that still doesnt solve the problem. Use xhost + as xauth fails.
  • Local notes
    • host=fire 9.2 runs acroread v?
    • host=lapr S1 8.4-RELEASE
    • host=lapr S2 10.1-RELEASE acroread runs 9.5.5 (but X screen fails so use 9.3)
    • host=lapr S3 9.3-RELEASE acroread runs 9.5.5
    • host=lapr S4 11.0-CURRENT acroread: No acroread binary found chroot /data/release/s3; acroread terminate called after throwing an instance of 'RSException' native runs OK
    • host=laps, S3=8.2-RELEASE acroread=9.5.1 03/07/2012 also failed to authenticate to co house (both with & without leading zero on co number)
    • android: 15.5.2
  • URLs
  • 9.3-RELEASE
    cd /usr/ports/print/acroreadwrapper ; make reinstall-recursive
    cd /usr/ports/print/acroread9 ; make reinstall-recursive needs a CR else it hangs
    === WARNING === Before using Adobe Reader 9, linux_adobe.ko kernel module has to be loaded. It is automatically loaded by /usr/local/etc/rc.d/linux_adobe script on boot time. You can manually load it by
    # /usr/local/etc/rc.d/linux_adobe start without rebooting.
    To run this version of Adobe Reader, set ADOBE_LANG=ENU and use /usr/local/bin/acroread. Note that when $LANG is set, $ADOBE_LANG will be set automatically based on it.
  • Co House Support desk mentioned a new problem in 2015, relating to change from SSL to TLS1 change.
  • acroread 9.5.5 edit prefs internet
    allows to set proxy manual gate 80
    but theres no option to set SSL 2, SSL3, or TLS1
  • 2015-10-01:
    States: "You must have Adobe Reader version 9.2 or later installed on your computer to use the HMRC Company Tax Return software."
    It shows how to set Trust setting in Adobe Reader 10 & 11, but it makes No Mention of SSL & TLS.
  • 2015-10-16: I used Companies House HTML Form on line, only problem was form does not allow a negative revaluation reserve, so co house reccomend rolling that into Profit & Loss Account.
  • 2015-12-30 (for tax year 2014) I used FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE amd64 + acroread to call Adobe Reader 9.5.5 04/26/2013, Which ran about as slow as watching paint dry, but Did complete my tax return, despite emitting various errors such as:
    (acroread:20106): GLib-GIO-WARNING **: Could not initialize inotify
    (acroread:20106): GLib-GIO-WARNING **: FAMOpen failed, FAMErrno=3
    (acroread:20106): Gtk-WARNING **: Unable to find default local directory monitor type
    (process:78225): GLib-CRITICAL **: g_slice_set_config: assertion `sys_page_size == 0' failed
    Failed to connect to socket /tmp/fam-jhs-
    Fontconfig error: "/usr/local/etc/fonts/conf.d/10-scale-bitmap-fonts.conf", line 70: non-double matrix element
    Fontconfig warning: "/usr/local/etc/fonts/conf.d/10-scale-bitmap-fonts.conf", line 78: saw unknown, expected number
    Which proves one does Not need Adobe 10, despite John Rose (for whom I see no email address, so havent mailed him) wrote 11:49 3 Dec 2014 "Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10/11 & Ubuntu 14.04
    I'm using Ubuntu 14.04 desktop. I have enabled the partners repo & installed Adobe Reader 9.5.5 OK. Unfortunately, I need Adobe Reader version 10 or 11"

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