Today was no different. “Narada, you look like a petrified deer in front of dazzling headlights of an oncoming car in a highway. Either you have received a call from the underworld or you have received a notice from Income-tax department.” He was spot on, for I received the dreaded notice. “Your blood pressure must have surely shot through the roof. Take these pills,” he said as he thrust some of various hues. I was livid. I expected him to empathise, not be malicious at this point in time. Controlling my anger with a superhuman effort, I shifted tack.
“My assessing officer is planning to reopen some of my assessments of yester years. Every time I appear before him, he seems to be dissatisfied with my explanations. Worse still, he just dismisses my very presence, leave alone my explanations,” I said pouring my cup of woes. “Narada, though tax rates have moderated, tax administrators in this county haven’t,” he said and added “there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. In India, the taxpayer prefers the former for it doesn’t get worse every year unlike the later.” That was no solace to me. I wanted to live and lead a life of dignity. “Every time I visit the officer, I felt that my soul was raped, my dignity dented and my self-respect abused.” I quipped. “What is your precise problem?” he enquired. “I have no problem, the office has,” I clarified. “OK. What is his problem?” he asked. “I am unable to understand his problem either,” I said. “Narada, stop this merry go around,” he said sternly and added, “Unless you explain the issue fully I cannot help.” That was encouraging. I opened out. “The officer is suggesting that some income during assessment in previous years has escaped being taxed. Consequently the assessing officer wants to reopen these assessments and bring them to tax.” “Is that all?” he enquired. Without understanding the import of what he said I added in an excited voice “No, he is also withholding assessments of last two years and suggesting that he would disallow some expenditure and genuine deductions while imputing non-existent income to me. The net impact is staggering.” After a few moments of deep contemplation he asked me “Has he completed any assessments in the manner in which he has suggested?” “No. Not at all. On the contrary, as I already told you, he has not shown any inclination to discuss my evidences or explanations,” I remonstrated ruefully. After another few moments of deep contemplation he said, “Ah Narada, now I understand the problem. The solution is so simple,” and added, “You need to send in another person, preferably a professional, to strike a deal with the officer.” Being a simpleton failed to understand what he implied. “What do you mean?” I enquired. “Narada, understand such notices are an euphemism for an invitation to strike a deal between the assessee and his assessing officer. Usually some very qualified professionals broker the deal. Approach them and settle the matter,” he said sagely. I was not satisfied. “No way” I remonstrate and added, “My records are clean. I will appeal to the superiors. I am sure the law would have some appellate forum.” Paddy had a hearty laugh. “Narada when you will grow up?” he chided me and said, “Be practical. It is quite probable that the senior officer will cost you much more. The best bet is to settle with the junior officer.” Despite finding merit in his submissions, I made a feeble final attempt “any other alternative?” Paddy simply replied, “Narada, what cannot be cured must be endured.”