How to become an income tax officer?

Tax fraud, black money, money laundering, if you are familiar with these terms, at least through movies, I don’t think there is any need for an introduction on income tax department or the income tax officers.  Though most people may not know the exact details of their day-to-day work, it is safe to assume that at least we know them as the ‘tax police’ in our country. 

It’s a civic duty to pay income tax and contribute to the development of our nation. It is the duty of our government to ensure that no one gets away from this. And that’s why we have a department that takes care of the collection of taxes known as the Income Tax Department. 

What is the income tax department?

As I already said, the income tax department is a government body that is in charge of direct tax collection for the Government of India. They enforce various direct tax laws in the country including the Income-tax Act, 1961. The responsibilities of income tax officers include, collection of taxes, detecting tax fraud cases, track the illegal transaction, and take legal action against tax defaulters. It comes under the Department of Revenue of the ministry of finance and is headed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). 

How to become an income tax officer?

It’s time to stop beating around the topic. Let’s get to the point. How to become an income tax officer? Yeah, I know that title made you open this article.

Getting into any government job role is not easy unless someone you know holds great political power. As an income tax officer, you will be dealing with high profile cases involving businessman and organisations. So, becoming an income tax officer is going to be a tough nut to crack. Okay, that was obvious. 

You should start as a tax inspector or a tax assistant. As the department works under the central government, the recruitment process is conducted by the Short Service Commission (SSC). An aspiring candidate can appear for Combined Graduate Level Examination (SSC CGL) for the position of income tax inspector or tax assistant. 

The minimum eligibility to appear for this examination is to have an undergraduate degree from any recognised university. Apart from this, the candidate should also meet the age and medical standards prescribed by the Short Service Commission

Coming to the examination,  Combined Graduate Level Examination (CGL) for the post of tax inspector or tax assistant involves three stages. Two levels of written examination, tier 1 and tier 2. This is followed by an interview if you have applied for the post of an inspector. In the case of applicants for the position of tax assistant, the written round will be followed by a skill test instead of a personal interview. 

Now, let’s look at these rounds in detail.

As I said there are two written examinations. The first examination, known as preliminary examination, is a qualifying examination. Only if the candidate scores above the cut off marks, he or she will be allowed to apply for mains examination. The scores of mains examination will be considered for the final ranking.

Preliminary examination

The preliminary examination will have 200 questions divided into two parts. The first part will test a candidate’s general awareness level while the second part covers arithmetic ability. The exams will have a duration of 2 hours and the cut off marks are set on the basis of the number of candidates appearing for the exams and the number of vacancies available. Again, the marks obtained in the prelims won’t be considered for the final selection.

Mains examination

The second stage of combined graduate level examination (SSC CGL) for the position of tax inspector or tax assistant under the department of income tax is another written test. A candidate will be allowed to appear for the mains examination after successfully clearing the preliminary examination. This exam will have 5 papers. Namely, general awareness, English comprehension, Arithmetic abilities, communication and writing skills. English comprehension and language paper carries 100 marks each while all other papers are for 200 marks. Candidates will be given adequate time for each paper. 

Interview round or skill test

Once the mains examination is done, a candidate can proceed to the final round. The final stage can be either an interview or a skill test depending on the position you have applied for. For the post of a tax inspector, the final round will be an interview. Here, the candidate will be interviewed by a panel of experts from the industry. Candidate’s level of general awareness, reasoning skills, aptitude, etc will be tested during the interview round. There will questions regarding the candidate’s personality, about the income tax department and issues like financial fraud.

But if the candidate has applied for the position of a tax assistant, the third stage will be a skill test instead of an interview. Here, the data entry speed possessed by the candidate will be tested in this stage. The candidate will be able to clear this round only if their data entry speed is above 2000 per 15 minutes The skill test will be conducted at Regional/Sub Regional Office of Staff Selection Commission. 


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