Confessions of a Chartered Accountant

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“The CA makes nameless, faceless people credit-worthy, and credit-worthy individuals go off the tax radar. It’s creatively satisfying, and I laugh all the way to the bank.”

We are closet fiction writers, but not everyone is cut out for it. We face situations that range from simple to bizarre, and we literally have to invent solutions.

Recently an old man came to me. He had just sold some prime property in South Mumbai for a tidy profit. His daughter-in-law convinced him to put the money into her father’s farmland on the outskirts of Mumbai. Unfortunately for her, the old man came to his CA. 

First of all, you cannot compare ‘housing property’ to ‘agricultural land’.  Secondly, the land was owned by the girl’s father, and he had already ‘gifted’ it to her. So effectively, the girl would get the land as well as the money, and this old man would have nothing. I gently suggested far safer and lucrative investment options. If that old man hadn’t come to his CA, he would have had to spend his old age at the mercy of his daughter-in-law.

‘Creating’ paperwork is where a good CA gets to show off. Some people want to show something that isn’t there. For example, for a visa application, you need a healthy bank statement to convince authorities that they are high net-worth individuals. Showing numbers when there is no cash is easy. Another reason to ‘create’ paperwork is to hide a particular lifestyle. For example, if you are spending Rs 10,000 partying every night, it implies a certain income, which in turn leads to uncomfortable questions. 

In India, tax knowledge is very poor. First of all, rural India doesn’t pay tax because agricultural income is not taxed. For the rest of the population, the Government has maintained a British Raj policy wherein the Government amasses large amounts of tax without providing any real benefits to taxpayers. The Government assumes the joint family structure is still alive, so it doesn’t provide for the ageing population. In other cases, while an individual is healthy and earning, it levies maximum income tax but if that same person is unable to work for whatever reason, the Government simply ignores the individual.  

The CA makes nameless, faceless people credit-worthy and credit-worthy individuals go off the tax radar. It’s creatively satisfying, and I laugh all the way to the bank. 

(This Chartered Accountant has been in the profession for 10 years. He runs his own practice)

(As told to Aliefya Vahanavaty)