How To Become A Successful Tax Professional


Shri. N. M. Ranka, Senior Advocate, has enumerated in a succinct manner the qualities that professionals need to develop in order to be successful in the practice of taxation law

Since times immemorial profession of law, medicine and divinity have been recognised as noble professions. Profession of accountancy have been added with industrialisation, globalisation and trade and commerce. With socialistic pattern of society, levy of tax, duty, cess, fee etc. became life and blood, rather a necessity and no Government can function smoothly without national tax policy. Taxation became a power of political superior.

After independence many more tax legislations became operative, to meet with cost of governance, defence, internal security and social welfare; to provide water, food, cloth, housing, electricity and basic necessities of life. Service Tax has been introduced and is expanding its wings each year. It became necessary to collect, to meet with cost of establishment, salaries, interests, payment of debts and to bear with scams, scandals, wasteful lavish expenditure and unaccountability, negligence and arrogance at all levels. There have been rat race with the Union and the States, to invent new innovative tax legislations. Goods and Service Tax legislation is in making with enormous powers and discretions, the corrupt and the inefficient tax authorities, instead of functioning as regulators, became revenue collectors for exchequer as well as personal gains. The greedy tax payers were prompted and a large number became evaders. Culture to pay due taxes eliminated.

Tax and Corporate laws are highly complex, complicated and are flooded with frequent amendments of Act and Rules and plethora of decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, High Courts and Tribunals and instructions, directions and circulars of the competent authorities. With unprecedented expansion of tax net, a tax payer is amazed and unused. He has to represent before large number of authorities. Records are in a mess. Even PAN numbers are not issued on time. Refunds are abnormally delayed and not automatic. Rectifications and appeal effects have to be reminded again and again, with no result. Staff for administrative work is in plenty, but very little number to assist an assessing officer. The ‘Great Income-tax Officer’ cannot frame assessment independently and his powers have been substantially curtailed. There is no accountability. Transparency is absent. Work culture is no more. Punctuality and discipline have diminished. High pitched assessments and harassment at all levels have increased. It caused unprecedented increase in the number of tax advocates, chartered accountants, tax practitioners, return prepares over years, to assist and guide the tax payers and to make them to comply with the legislative requirements and demands of the errant tax administrators.

The Tax laws are complicated, complex, highly technical and beyond understanding of a commoner. Interpretation of tax laws is very much painful and difficult. Lately, there has developed a tendency to amend tax laws frequently, on a slight provocation as to misuse by ignorable few and retrospectively. It is not a healthy sign. It is immoral and unethical. It does not very much affect the national exchequer but puts a greater injury to a citizen of this great democracy. It shakes faith of the tax payers in tax laws and prompt them to resort to unethical practices.

It is highly desirable to change our mindset. Electronic typewriters, E-mail, FAX, fast communication gadgets, Computers, CD ROM, Whatsapp, mobile and other facilities, to save time space and energy as also to be accurate, deserves to be availed off. One shall have to change the pattern of functioning individually to a group of persons, having expertise in different fields and to function under one roof like a departmental store. To stand with competition one shall have to keep pace with fast emerging changes. Need of the hour is to change the old, outdated and obsolete way of practice. However, I am of the definite view that “Machine” is not substitute to “Man” and “Human Mind” is superb and not “Computer”. New emerging technology are to add and assist but not to replace an human being. “Man makes machines and not machines make a man”. Ultimate aim of life should be not to make oneself as maintain machine and run in rat race with stress and turmoil and without mental peace and satisfaction of life. One should keep fine a balance between knowledge, vision, character and action.

The tax professional has a tripartite relation; one with his colleague, another with the tax administration and the third with the client. The duties are unique. Tax Professionals are every where deemed essential to protect the public interest and interest of the tax payer in an orderly society. The tax professionals participation is ordinarily an assurance that the tax payer shall not be required to pay a single rupee more or a single rupee less than due to the exchequer. A tax professional is an officer, just as an Advocate is an officer of the court. He is master of an expertise, but more than that accountable to the tax administration and governed by a high ethic. The success of the tax assessments depend upon the services of the tax profession. He is a bridge between the tax payer and the tax authorities.

Tax profession is not a craft but a calling, a profession wherein devotion to duty constitutes the hall mark. Sincerity of performance and the earnestness of endeavour are the two wings that will bare aloft the tax professionals to the tower of success. Given these virtues other qualifications will follow on their own. A strong united and independent bar ready to see that due taxes alone are paid, will have a very sobering effect on the tax administration. A principled tax professional with sterling character will be a great check on the tax administration as well as tax payers. The tax profession should have a sense of sacrifice and sense of service. Tax consultants are professionals and not businessmen. To serve should be the object.

A tax professional should have the professional capacity, proper professional training, good knowledge of the tax laws and the procedure. He should maintain a very good library and should devote at least two to three hours a day in the study. The profession should get rid of corrupt and corrupting elements prevailing in abundance. The members must unite to fight this evil. Unity is strength. A sense of sacrifice and sense of service would be required to tackle this problem. Code of conduct and a code of ethic should be adopted and strictly enforced.

A tax professional should be very punctual, methodical and systematic. He should represent his client’s case to the best of his ability. No effort should be spared in properly arming oneself on the questions of law and fact. Deep study of more than 100 laws is the necessity as noticed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Submission of all relevant evidence at proper time and proper stage would help the tax payer. Detailed written submissions and explanations should be furnished with sufficient evidence, direct as well as circumstantial, before the assessing authority itself. The return should accompany all the required papers, documents and accompaniments. Grounds of appeal should be detailed and should accompany Statement of facts. As far as possible written submissions should be submitted before the appellate authorities along with detailed Paper Book as per rules. While selecting judicial citations, one should be very choosy and selective. Only relevant case laws matching with facts be cited. One should adhere to the dress code. It is highly desirable that a tax consultant functions deligently, with caution and care and discharges his duties and obligations without negligence.

The tax payer need a helping hand from the tax profession. No effort should be made or allowed to be made by which a tax payer is deprived of his rights, statutory as well as constitutional and is put to sufferance, financial as well as mental. Tendency to retain the records and not to return need to be eschewed. No right vests to retain the records even if fees remains as outstanding. Any communication between the client and the counsel is secret and it is the duty of the tax profession not to divulge or disclose or discuss without permission of the tax payer. Loose talks deserve to be avoided. Gossips impermissible. Utmost care and caution is essential in proper discharge of duty and trust, else may amount to misconduct.

Rules provide that an Advocate/Chartered Accountant shall not enter appearance in any case in which there is already an Advocate/Chartered Accountant on record except with his consent. It is highly, desirable to seek “No Objection Certificate” from previous Tax Consultant before putting appearance. It is healthy practice and need to be adhered to. Files and records deserve to be returned after discharge of duty and obligation. Vakalatnamah and power of attorney duly stamped must be filed before the appearance. Fees to commemorate with the time and energy involved. No guarantee briefs or fees looking to the stakes involved. There is sufficient for “needs” but not for “greed”.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Speedy disposal of case is the need of the hour. Efforts need be made for early disposal. Adjournments deserve to be avoided. Adjournment should be the last resort. Application in advance to be filed. On the date responsible person to attend. Due regard to be paid to the officers and the members. Greatest advantage in tax profession is that the clientele is constant, continuous, permanent and a tax professional is considered as a friend, philosopher, guide and member of the client’s family. Social contacts are close.

It is rightly said that corruption is rampant in all fields of life and tax departments are no exception. Corruption is cancerous. There is no will to fight the menace. Nobody is born corrupt, it is the vitiated atmosphere and the system of governance which converts the “clean” into the “corrupt”. An honest person resists corruption but allurements and temptations at times prevail upon him and once corrupt, even an honest person prefers and finds it convenient to stay corrupt. The seeds of corruption are sown in the mind of the man and the cure, if any, lies in eradicating the seeds of corruption from ones mind. It is self generated. There is hue and cry for its elimination, but it is increasing day by day, affecting national image and affecting growth.

To me only solution is self introspection. “FEAR NONE, EXCEPT ONE, WHO IS ABOVE EVERYONE”. Respected Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation said “THERE IS HIGHER COURT, THAN COURT OF JUSTICE, THAT IS THE COURT OF CONSCIENCE”.

Peace requires liberty. Liberty demands a self-disciplined people of strong moral fibre adhering to the highest values of ethics and reverence for life. The first step is to vow to do no harm. There is need to reiterate Gandhian values. We must translate his ideals into real life. Let us have an Inner Revolution and transform ourselves : ‘From fear to love, from greed to generosity. From selfishness to compassion; deceit to truth. From dependence to self-reliance; war to peace. From enslavement to Liberty.’

What is required is: Unity of thoughts, unity of understanding and unity of action to achieve the goal with due regard to dignity, liberty and humanity. Success is celebration. Let us realise “Professional Social Responsibility” to Serve the tax fraternity. Inculcate the humble suggestions and become a successful tax professional. Future is bright. Maintain its dignity, honour and reputation. ‘Build The Nation’ & Achieve Self-Satisfaction.

Reproduced with permission from the AIFTP Journal

12 comments on “How To Become A Successful Tax Professional
  1. Ca Anoop Bhatia says:

    The practice of income tax law certainly requires all the attributes narrated by Ranka Sir. Hats off to him for writing such a motivational and practical article.

    I sincerely feel that consultants today lack in terms of practicing the law by reading and interpretating it rather it is by way of sharing some experience or advise from each other. Why not to take direct support from Act. This habit if inculcated among us will pave the way to real applicability of the provisions of law and standing the flag of ethics high.

    Thanks Sir once again.

  2. Taxation as such is an high stakes issue every where. Mr. Ranka is right, tax law is day by day more and more complicated just because every government wants to get its pie from the tax payer by right or wrong way.

    Why tax payer should meet all unreasonable demands of the government in power is the million $ question.

    Hence we need sharp minds of advocates as also tax professionals.

    Advocate sees the veracity of the laws while tax professional must see whether accounting procedure adopted by the corporate or other is a right method based, mechanism.

    simply overlapping the professions one cannot meaningfully help the client.

    Revenue has a problem. Pressure from government for more recovery, how could be recovery meaningful if the recovery idea is based on illogical perceptions and mis-reading the sections,along with the Act which ought to be balanced with the Constitutional tenets, as also one has to test every demand on the anvils of the constitution;

    Government does not mean it can tax on every kind of basis.

    Passing an Act is indeed questionable by citizens that way came into being the judicial review on any legislation by any government.

    Government doesn’t mean it can be arbitrary or intimidating is the root thought of democratic ideals. Every Act has to pass through all kinds of judicial tests depending on the petitioners. That way is born the judicial statutory interpretation as a mechanism.

    In one case that particular Act or section could be right while in another set of circumstances of facts that Act or section is questionable is the essence of interpretation. Therefore, it would be obvious every fact of every matter need to be tested on the section or Act is concerned but ought to be tested on the anvils of the constitution which is the vibrant rule of law that cannot be questioned by any government on some expediencies as such, after all the governments must and should function within the constitutional tenets only.

    That way people like Nani Palkiwala and like wizards in constitution really worked wonders, that is not so frequent today as most Advocates do not have adequate equipment of law appreciating skills; as most think what statute says is final that is mostly ill-understood mechanism of law, after all in high courts and supreme courts, there would be detailed arguments on the aspects of law while applying the statutes on certain facts before them, that way arguments there would be ever illuminating besides very development of very law itself.

    You can never say tax laws are just great creation but some revenue generation to government to meet its several public expenditures under so called ‘policies’ and the like.

    Obviously, the government need to satisfy the court the veracity of just that kind of revenue to feed it; parliament does not mean it has all powers to squeeze citizens in all different ways, but parliament is accountable to every citizen on the veracity of taxing statute;

    today finance bill means something great but it is not so but the bill has to obviously satisfy every citizen practically, if not questionable bill and Act in itself. We think some claps of members are the only end of the bill to become an Act, as that Act is duly questionable under interpretation of statutes under constitutional interpretation principles.

    Taxing has per se must be convincing if not questionable and severable too or could be declared ultra vires of the constitution, that way advocacy has to work.

    Therefore, Mr. Ranka rightly stated several aspects but only could be understood to critical legal brains more than any others, including the public servants who just work for some governments but the advocates work for the people at large like judges please.

    critical appreciation of laws is vital always.

  3. Hari Agarwal says:

    I liked this very much “FEAR NONE, EXCEPT ONE, WHO IS ABOVE EVERYONE”.


    I agree


    Really it’s true that to become a successful tax professional, every word spelt out is to be folowed with particular attention to the latest developments and gathering evidence to support the facts being argued. Analytical study of the facts and interpretation of tax laws depending upon the direct and circumstantial evidences is essence of a successful tax practice. I am in agreement with the views expressed in the article. Hats off…..& regards.
    V.v.r.nageswara Dutt,
    Retired deputy commissioner of incometax,Mumbai

  6. ramesh En says:

    He has not given the tips to become a successful tax professional .

    He has criticised the department, which is not fully correct.

  7. sanjay kumar says:

    sir, i have heard you during AIFTP coferences.i have great regards and respect you.i agree with what you have said. however this applies to all who are practicing in the field of law as such irrespective of a days we are engaged in meeting, talking, eating and doing nothing. there is dearth of advocates who really follow you. AIFTP may play very important role in dissemination of information and making sound understating of tax laws and preparing good tax advocates. this can be done in association with educational institutions across the nation.

  8. vswami says:

    A self-correction:

    In the lines 5 and 6 from top, to be read:

    “…why most of those are not to be regarded as of equal relevance hence application to …”

  9. vswami says:

    OFFHAND (to share own independent thoughts, with those who care to be on the same wavelength)

    The Senior Advocate of eminence and known reputation has to be commended for having been forthright in elucidating what all are expected of anyone, he be An Advocate or a CA, in practice of tax law. One can see or personally think of no reason why most of those are of equal relevance hence application to not only professional in tax law (s) practice but also in every other law on the statute book. For, after all, none can afford not to have the courage of conviction to call a spade a spade, so to say.
    In today’s changed circumstances , rather worrisome context, the following aspect (s) dwelt upon by the learned leading member of the Bar, calls for a special emphasis and conscious noting:

    “….However, I am of the definite view that “Machine” is not substitute to “Man” and “Human Mind” is superb and not “Computer”. New emerging technology is to add and assist but not to replace a human being. “Man makes machines and not machines make a man”. Ultimate aim of life should be not to make oneself as maintain machine and run in rat race with stress and turmoil and without mental peace and satisfaction of life. One should keep fine a balance between knowledge, vision, character and action.”….

    Albeit on the selfsame topic but with a slightly different stroke,the viewpoints shared through the following (personal) Blogs , selceted at random, may, hopefully, make for a useful supplemental read:




    (may be contd.)

  10. Nem Singh says:

    Very important facts Ranka Sahab that “There have been rat race with the Union and the States, to invent new innovative tax legislations. Goods and Service Tax legislation is in making with enormous powers and discretions, the corrupt and the inefficient tax authorities, instead of functioning as regulators, became revenue collectors for exchequer as well as personal gains. The greedy tax payers were prompted and a large number became evaders. Culture to pay due taxes eliminated.” But who realise and mind these facts everything is going on as a system that can’t be changed by one person or through writing or speaking about. There is need for revolution because power, passion, paisa, family, relations all are work as a system and no opportunity or place for honest men in this system. We are the honest man only for crying…….

    • Narayan Jain says:

      Shri NM Ranka spoke on this topic in a meeting of AIFTP (East Zone) in Kolkata. I had the privilege of being a co-speaker on the subject. Members liked the deliberations. Thanks for reproducing the article on this useful topic.

  11. A hardworking tax professional says:

    Completely clueless.

    All regards to the senior status of the author, but this piece hardly has a definitive shape or strategy.

    To be a successful tax professional, if a person will spend 2-3 hours in the study, then when will s/he work?

    This unnumbered, unsectionalized article is a cocktail of good values, without any distinct character or flavour.

    Have a bullet point list of must do’s
    Redress the not done’s
    A vision for long term future
    All out efforts towards making your vision a reality.

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