Neha Patil (Editor)

Indian Revenue Service

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Covid-19
Abbreviation  IRS
Country  India
Formed  1953
Indian Revenue Service
Training Grounds  1. National Academy of Direct Taxes (Nagpur) 2. National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (Faridabad)
Controlling Authority  Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Legal Personality  Governmental Federal law enforcement

The Indian Revenue Service (Hindi: भारतीय राजस्व सेवा, Bhāratīya Rājaswa Sevā), abbreviated as IRS, is the administrative revenue service of the Central Civil Services of the Government of India. It is the largest Group A Central Service amongst the organised civil services in the Government of India. The Service functions under the Department of Revenue in the Union Ministry of Finance and is concerned with the collection and administration of the various direct and indirect taxes accruing to the Union Government.

Contents

IRS comprises two branches - IRS (Income Tax) and IRS (Customs and Central Excise), which are controlled by two separate statutory bodies, viz., Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) respectively. IRS serves the nation through discharging one of the most important sovereign functions i.e., collection of revenue for development, security and governance.

Recruitment

There are two streams of recruitment to the Indian Revenue Service - Direct Recruits and Promoted Officers. Direct Recruits are selected from the Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission and based on preferences opted by them. Promoted Officers like Income Tax Service, Group ‘B’ are promoted gradually over several years of service. The current ratio of two streams at entry level is kept at 1:1. Initial posting would be Assistant Commissioners up to senior rank of Principal Chief Commissioners, Member/Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes or Central Board of Excise and Customs.

Training

IRS Officer Trainees (OTs) first undergo a 3-month Foundation Course

IRS officers then procced to the National Academy of Direct Taxes, Nagpur or the National Academy of Customs, Excise & Narcotics, Faridabad and they undergo a very dynamic training in specialized matters of conventional tax administration (Direct Taxes) along with unarmed combat, weapons and explosives. Additionally IRS officers undergo extensive training with Army and the National Police Academy and many other prestigious institutes of the country so that they are better prepared to excel in their multi-faceted role. NADT has signed an MOU with NALSAR University in Hyderabad to award master's degree in Business laws and Taxation to the Officer Trainees. Recently, Finance Ministry has approved exchange of officer trainees to various countries across the world such as Australia, Malaysia, United States of America, Brazil, South Africa and OECD Nations for increasing exposure to the future administrators.

There are various mid-career training programmes for IRS officers with a view to keep them abreast of the latest developments _in the areas of governance, particularly taxation, finance and management. These include the Advanced Mid Career Training (AMCTP) which is conducted' in 3 phases. Phase I is for Joint/Additional Commissioners, Phase-II is for Commissioners/Principal Commissioners and Phase-III is for Chief Commissioners/Principal Chief Commissioners. The AMCTP generally consists of a 3-week domestic module held at premier Management Institutes in the country followed by "a 2 week International component at internationally acclaimed Universities, depending on their areas of expertise.

Designations

The designations and time-scales within the Indian Revenue Service are as follows after cadre restructure:

Work Profile

Indian Revenue Services officers are mainly attached to the Income Tax and Customs Departments but are also deputed to many other agencies and departments in the central and state governments. IRS officers administer the Direct Taxes laws through the Income Tax Department (ITD) whose logo is 'kosh mulo dandah'. In the Income Tax and Customs Departments, IRS officers are charged with responsibility to identify the tax evasion modus operandi and are given statutory powers of search and seizure and arrest to combat the prevalent evasion. They also play a role in advising on tax policy matters by playing a significant role in framing or amending of statutes and frames regulations in relation to taxes. They also participate and negotiate treaties on behalf of the Government of India in the fiscal matters in both bilateral or multilateral forums such as OECD and Global Form on Transparency in Tax Matters.

Indian Revenue Service officers work in the unearthing of many scams in the country. Their tax assessment orders are taken as starting points for all fraud and economic offences investigations. Investigation conducted by the Revenue Service officers is used by other enforcement agencies in cases of corruption too. Efforts of Indian Revenue Service officers have resulted in earning huge sums of public money for the exchequer and also in catching many criminals. Starting with the Fodder Scam in 1995 case to the more recent Madhu Koda case in Jharkhand was result of co-ordinated efforts of Indian Revenue Service Officers and led to unearthed allegedly illegal investments and Hawala transactions of 2000 crore.The Mining scam in Karnataka was unearthed by, GM Belagali and Sibichen K Mathew both IRS officers. Recently, Indian Revenue Service officers at Income Tax Department were roped into look at various irregularities in allotment of 2G Spectrum Scandal and also in Disproportionate Assets cases in Andhra Pradesh, recent scam in Reebok India Ltd. Issues such as smuggling of precious natural resources, gold, arms, narcotics and drugs also come under the scanner of the Indian Revenue Service Officers and their intervention has played an important role in protecting social and economic fabric of the nation. IRS through the Income Tax Criminal Investigation Unit (CI), Investigation Wing and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence have a combined taxation and law enforcement role.

Efforts of the Members of the Service also led to the recovery of black money worth 10,000 crore in last year alone in India . IRS officers man all important border postings and protect the country from smuggling and safeguard its economic borders. They undertake patrolling missions in high seas and also takes preventive operations against piracy and smuggling. Around 565 crore worth black money is brought into taxation from France alone. Further, During the conduct of the elections the service members are posted as expenditure observers and work under the Election Commission of India in ensuring proper and fair election process and role of the officers have won accolades from the Election Commission for arresting flow of black money in the elections. IRS officers are considered for grant of Presidential Award of Appreciation Certificate for exceptionally meritorious service rendered at the risk of life and specially distinguished record of service on their achieving and maintaining excellence in the discharge of their duties. These awards are announced on the eve of Republic Day. This year 35 officers have been selected for grant of Presidential Award of Appreciation Certificate for ‘Specially distinguished record of service’. These officers have exhibited exceptional commitment and devotion to duty on a sustained basis, while achieving the goals set for their organizations.

Newly created Directorate of Criminal Investigation under the Central Board of Direct Taxes collects and coordinates the intelligence gathering actions of the department and prosecutes tax offenders.

Corruption

In 2015, it was reported that as many as 108 IRS officers were under probe by the CBI for their alleged involvement in corruption. From May 2009 to May 2010, the CBI had sought sanction for prosecution of 102 IRS officials posted in different parts of the country in connection with corruption cases.

In 2016, the Ministry of Finance for the first time, dismissed 72 and prematurely retired another 33 Indian Revenue Service officers for non-performance and on disciplinary grounds.

The IRS officials top the Central Bureau of Investigation’s list of most corrupt bureaucrats. In one case, a 1992 batch IRS officer was arrested for accepting a bribe of 2 crore in Mumbai. Recently, in another case, some IRS officials were found to help certain companies evade payment of Service tax and related penalties of the order of 1 crore. Also CBI raided premises of an Income Tax Officer for demanding Bribe to the tune of 60 crore for covering up Stock Guru Scam.

Staff shortages

As of 2013, the IRS has a significant shortfall in employees. Since liberalization era in 1990s emphasis on governmental cost cutting has been the norm department has been facing shortages in officer and staff cadre. Approximately more than half of the junior officers and staff positions are lying vacant as on date. It was hoped that computerization would reduce the dependence on staff during 2001 restructuring of the department following desk officer system. Subsequently,unscientific promotion policies owing to pressure tactics of the unions have resulted in creation of situation where staff with out any proper experience or qualification are promoted to supervisory ranks seriously jeopardizing the efficiency and service delivery and leaving huge vacancies at the investigation and assessment charges. There have been many instances where drivers have been promoted to the rank of Inspector of Income Tax which is a bedrock of the investigation mechanism for detecting tax evasion with out proper screening. While this indicates a democratic scenario where every competent worker can aspire to rise up in the hierarchy but no safeguards have been put in place to ensure merit of the promoted candidates. According to the Economic Times, Severe shortages may be negatively impacting the government's ability to scrutinise returns and catch instances of black money.

Murder of many officers

Even though IRS officers have to deal with sensitive posting in their career they are not provided adequate security. Many IRS officers in the Customs and Income Tax Departments have been assassinated in the course of their investigations.

Recent initiatives

Many new initiatives were taken by the Indian Revenue Service members to curb corruption in their respective departments and make the system more efficient and responsive to the needs of the tax payers. Use of Technology widely reduced scope for the abuse of power. Refund Banker scheme introduced in 2007 eliminated the scope for corruption in the Refunds of Excessive Tax collected by the Department. Introduction of E-filing of Taxes and effective implementation of Permanent Account Number (PAN) are some revolutionary steps that reduced the scope for corruption at all levels while improving the efficiency of the whole system. Use of Centralised Processing Center setup in 2010 at Bangalore of the Income Tax Department reduced unnecessary delays in processing returns. These computerization initiatives have freed up the human resources in the department which are largely responsible for higher revenue collections.

Income Tax Ombudsmen has been created in 2006 and is functional at 12 cities to look into tax related grievances of the public. Department is also gearing to improve its tax payer's services with Sevottam Scheme. Under this scheme various initiatives such as Citizen Charter, Ayakar Seva Kendra (ASK) which is a single Window mechanism for implementing Sevottam through delivery of these services within the time lines promised in the Citizen’s Charter were launched. Ayakar Sampark Kendra consists of one National Call Centre and 4 regional Call Centres to aid the tax payer were inaugurated by the Hon'ble Finance Minister.

IRS officers handling sensitive postings are issued a Glock Model 22 pistol or a Glock 23 in .40 S&W caliber.

An IRS officer could rise up-to the Apex Scale (Rs.80,000 fixed plus allowances) at the post of Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax in the ITD. At the apex level, he can also get selected as a Member or Chairperson of the CBDT. The intermediate grades in this career progression are Deputy Commissioner, Joint Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, Commissioner, Principal Commissioner and Chief Commissioner of Income Tax. An IRS officer is also eligible to be selected as Member of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Authority for Advance Ruling, Income Tax Settlement Commission and Income Tax Ombudsman as per the prescribed eligibility criteria. Income Tax Overseas Units have been set up designating IRS officers as diplomats in the rank of First Secretary in various missions and consulates of India abroad to look into tax evasion and compliance matters which enables them to work in the place of Indian Foreign Service officers abroad. Cadre Review has been cleared in the Income Tax creating 20,751 additional posts to help generate additional revenue of 25,000 crore annually.

References

Indian Revenue Service Wikipedia


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