software, simply

The Taxman notification: an IT horror story

There is nothing like a taxman notification to wake you up in the morning.

Image attribution: Modified from theAllex Lurking In The Dark

With your first coffee in the morning, you open your email and, oooooh gosh, there is an email from the TAXMAN authorities. It reads (paraphrasing):

You have an important notification to read. Please go to https://notifications.gob.es to read it.
If you do not read it within 10 days, we will proceed to apply the resolution, whether you like it or not, you worthless scum.

After a quick check that it is not a phishing email, you anxiously click the TAXMAN notifications website link, and … BAM! You are welcomed with:

Identification failed. Digital certificate not found, you idiot!

For a second, you catch the faint sound of maniacal laughter coming from the headset, but when you put them on, you can only hear the sound of your blood pumping on your ears.


As you remove the headset, you rack your brain trying to recall the last time you had to access the TAXMAN website, and suddenly, it dawns on you…

I t   o n l y   w o r k e d   i n   F i r e f o x !

With the hope that you have not formatted the computer since, you copy and paste the TAXMAN notification link to Firefox and …

Identification failed. Digital certificate not found, you dumb!

As chills creep up your spine, you try to focus by closing your eyes. What was it? How did it work last time? What the difference is?

I t   w a s    f r o m    y o u r    o l d    l a p t o p !

Praying for it to work, you race to the attic, unshelve your old fella, frantically rummage through the tangled chaos that is your overcrowded cable box and, as soon as you find its power cable - with your heart pounding in your chest - then and there, you turn it on and two beeps latter …

It starts!

Without wasting one second, you dismiss the six Please update popups, open the email in Firefox and …

Identification failed. Digital certificate not found, you fool!

Where is my certificate?

In a random forum, somebody suggests that if your Firefox has been upgraded, it is most likely that your certificates are in an old profile.

You find the instructions on how to recover an old profile, and …

Identification failed. Digital certificate not found, you dimwit!

You run downstairs to the new computer, recover the old profile and …

Identification failed. Digital certificate not found, you simpleton!

Arggghhh, nooooooooooo…….

More googling suggests finding a file named cert9.db.

A brute force find / locates the file at /System/Volumes/Data/Users/dlebrero/Desktop/Old Firefox data. You use it to overwrite Firefox’s current’s cert9.db - YES I AM SURE I WANT TO OVERWRITE THAT BLOODY WORTHLESS FILE - and Firefox’s settings reveal that your precious certificate is in place!

Gollum finds certificate

With a smile on your lips and a knot on your stomach, you go ahead to read the notification …

Identification failed. Digital certificate not found, you moron!


Once your wrist starts hurting from bashing F5, you carefully inspect the certificate information and notice that it expired two months ago.

With most of the day wasted and all joy drained from your soul, you brace yourself for what asking for a new certificate is going to entail.

New certificate

To request a corporate certificate, you first need a personal digital certificate.

This one just requires you to fill up a form that emails you a code, book a physical appointment in a tax office, and then present yourself with your ID card, the code and patience to last a few hours of queuing.

After this, an email arrives with a link to download your personal certificate.

Bye-bye to half a day, but at least you can ask for the corporate digital certificate!

Corporate certificate

Skipping lunch, you waste no time filling up the form to request the corporate certificate.

Your already low morale gets another blow when step 3 out of 4 throws an unexpected error at you. Fuck you unexpected!

You open the Firefox network panel to see what is going on.

One request is timing out after two minutes. Retrying several times has the same result. Some server is either overloaded, down, or on a long coffee break - who knows what privileges bureaucracy’s servers get.

You should go to have lunch and try again in a couple of hours, but …

you cannot help yourself and after twenty-five minutes of hammering the retry button, you manage to advance to step 4!

Step 4: The request timed out.


The Firefox network panel is still open, so you scroll up and down several times but no request is timing-out or failing. You refresh the page a couple of times and even restart the computer just in case.

The request timed out.

What now?


Out of desperation you try with Chrome, because why not.

Chrome shows the same “timeout error” on step 4 but on opening the Chrome DevTools you see an error in the console: Failed to launch ‘afirma’ because the scheme does not have a registered handler. REALLY??? IN WHAT TWISTED MIND THIS IS A TIMEOUT ERROR???????

Googling suggests that you have to install yet another piece of government software to complete the process.

And with this, and after paying the government 24€ + VAT (where the added value is?), you finally get the certificate!

The notification

With butterflies in your stomach and palms sweating, at last you open the TAXMAN notification.

It reads:

This is a notification to inform you that this notification system is being decommissioned and from now on you will be notified with the new https://dehu.gob.es/ notification website.


But hey, it could have been worse.

This could have happened to your dad … and you had to fix it over the phone. Shrills…

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Tagged in : Humour