I was selected as Income-tax Officer Class-1 on the basis of IAS etc examination held in 1958. After five months of combined foundational training of all services at Mussoorie, we, the probationers, who had opted for Indian Revenue Service (Income-tax), were sent for 18 months training in income tax and allied laws. Fortunately, out of 16 probationers, I and three others completed the prescribed written tests in the very first attempt and within six months of our training, we were sent for practical training. Shri R.D. Shah, who later retired as Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), was our Training In-charge in the rank of Inspecting Assistant Commissioner of Income-tax – a highly committed officer but a meticulous follower of rules and regulations.
Post training, the Board’s policy was not to post the officers in their home State much less in their home town. The then Chairman, CBDT, came to the training college to give a valedictory address and thereafter, met the probationers and enquired about their problems. I stood up and told him that contrary to the policy, I would like to get the posting in my home town at New Delhi. The reason was that without the State posting, I shall not be able to get a Punjabi bride to look after my old parents. There was laughter all around. Despite strong opposition including from our Training In-charge, I stood my ground and gave several other reasons for the first positing to be in one’s home town.
Ultimately, the Board relaxed the policy of not giving the first posting after training in the home town and I was posted at New Delhi. It has now become a general policy of posting the officers, after training, in their home towns and if that is not possible, to post them at least in their home States.
Another interesting feature in my carrier has been my posting as the Chief Commissioner of Income-tax -1, Calcutta. The Income-tax Department had a plot of land for constructing residential flats but the same, over the years, had been encroached. I tried to remove the encroachers but there was lot of resistance reaching violence. I met Shri Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, requesting him to get the encroachers removed. He gave me a counter offer about a new colony that was being developed by the State Government near the Calcutta airport and he could offer me as much land as was needed. This was not acceptable to me and I insisted that the Department’s land should be removed from the encroachers. Ultimately, he agreed. The encroachers were removed but, in the bargain, the Income-tax Department also got a large piece of land near the airport where a very commodious Guest House was set up for the initial and temporary stay of out-stationed officers who were posted to Kolkata. In this way, the Department got double benefit largely because of my persistence for the vacation of the encroachers from the that land.
Another reminiscence is of an incident when I was the Vice-Chairman of the Income-tax Settlement Commission at New Delhi. The Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes, with the concurrence of the Revenue Secretary, transferred me from Mumbai to New Delhi on the condition that I shall dispose off the oldest pending case of a foreign company which was lying unresolved for more than 10 years, firstly before the Assessing Officer and later before the Settlement Commission. After studying the case papers running into about 10,000 pages, I discovered it to be a very simple case of applying a reasonable net profit ratio to the receipts because they all were from the Government Departments and their correctness could not be questioned. As was my habit, I would start negotiations by proposing an unreasonable rate of profit so that in the negotiations, a reasonable rate can be arrived at and case settled on a win-win basis. The matter was settled to the mutual satisfaction of the foreign company and the Department and the additional tax, which was quite significant material, was paid within a month of the demand having been raised by the Commission.
It has been my experience that a vast majority of taxpayers do not mind paying a little more tax than what is due if it is based on an agreed assessment and the problem of ascertaining their tax liability is settled for good.
(Source: This article is published in souvenir of National Tax Conference which was held on 6th & 7th August, 2022 at New Delhi)
“Faith is of no evil in absence of strength. Faith and strength, both are essential to accomplish any great work.”
– Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel