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Qualification for enrolment as income tax practitioner

QUESTION: I am a graduate in Mathematics. I would like to practice income tax. I have decided to do either Bachelor of General Law (BGL) or Degree in Financial Analysis with ICFAI, Hyderabad. Please let me know whether either of them would be a qualification for practice.

ANSWER: To qualify for appearance as an authorised representative as prescribed under Sec. 288(2), he should be:

"(i) A person related to the assessee in any manner, or a person regularly employed by the assessee; or (ii) Any officer of a scheduled bank with which the assessee maintains a current account or has other regular dealings; or (iii) Any legal practitioner who is entitled to practise in any civil court in India; or (iv) An accountant; or (v) Any person who has passed any accountancy examination recognised in this behalf by the Board; or (vi) Any person who has acquired such educational qualifications as the Board may prescribe for this purpose".

`Accountant' in Sec. 288(2)(iv) is a Chartered Accountant or any other Accountant or auditor recognised under Sec. 226 of the Companies Act, 1956, which recognises besides a Chartered Accountant only a firm of which all the partners are Chartered Accountants.

Accountancy examinations recognised by the Board under Rule 50 read with section 288(2)(v) are: (i) National Diploma in Commerce with Advanced Accountancy and Auditing as elective subject; (ii) Government Diploma in Company Secretaryship awarded by Department of Company Affairs, Government of India; (iii) Final examination of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India; (iv) Final examination of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India; (v) Departmental examination for Officers (Group A and B) by the Central Board of Direct Taxes; (vi) Revenue Audit examination for Section Officers of the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Educational qualification under Rule 51 read with Sec. 288(2)(vi) are: A degree in Commerce or Law conferred by any of the following Universities:

I. Indian Universities: Any Indian University incorporated by any law for the time being in force besides other named Universities in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Burma and Pakistan.

It may be seen from the above that though entitlement to legal practice is required under Sec. 288(2)(iii), any degree in law from any Indian university should be an adequate qualification under Rule 51. In the result, though the degree of Bachelor of General Law (BGL) with any Indian University may not entitle the holder to practise law, it would be an adequate qualification for practice.

As for graduation in Financial Analysis, since such degree may not be understood as degree in commerce or law, it may not qualify for practice, unless the concerned authorities move the Board for a specific notification drawing their attention to the syllabus, so that if it accords with the requirements of commerce education, it may well be notified in future.

S. Rajaratnam

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