Ajay Mankotia makes taxmen look cool in There's Seven For You, Three for Me
Read this laugh riot to know what happens before, after and during tax raids. Read it also to know how demonetisation brought out 'number teen ka paisa'.
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Have you ever dared to file your income tax returns all by yourself? Forget that. Have you ever even taken a hard look at your Form 16 and tried to understand what means what? Section 80C, 80CCC, 80CCD?
Ok, you may have tried! But did you succeed even by half? Don't fret and sweat over your inability. You are part of a vast majority who too would fret and sweat at these questions.
Yes, there are the nonchalant ones too who would say, "I don't know, SO what?"
SO, nothing — just respect the taxman!
If you think it's not a big deal to know a thing or two about Form 16, or income tax filing, so it is ok to think of the taxman as someone who leads a boring work life crunching numbers but still gets to eat with a silver spoon — studded with diamonds at times, because well, s/he earns "number do ka paisa", you are as clueless about their lives as you are about your own Form 16. And also, about something called "number teen ka paisa" made by way of frauds committed on men by women.
So pick up Ajay Mankotia's There's Seven For You, Three for Me: Chronicles of a Taxman this weekend with a mug of coffee or a cup of tea — or whatever else it is that you may like — and read.
Mankotia's book is a laugh riot that offers rare glimpses into the experiences of those who work for the tax department. This account, suffused with humour and absurdity, takes you closest to the travails of the income tax department of India. All experiences are shockingly colourful. The shock comes only because of a prejudiced view of what it means to be in a government job and how government departments do their work. No one thinks it's cool. Tax services are listed among the most boring jobs world over.
The envy towards this government job in India is only within the limited realm of 'perks'. Also, because government jobs are overall drying up.
Mankotia worked for 26 years as a taxman, retiring as commissioner of income tax, and brings to his book anecdotes that are so entertaining, you may actually begin to question your career choice and suffer guilt pangs of ignorance that made you dismiss the lives of taxmen as one lived between 9-5 jobs in government offices that we still picture as spit spots for gutkha-chewing men and wool-knitting women. Mankotia doesn't say these things don't happen. He just says that there is a lot else too that happens.
The author introduces the readers to income tax search operations that are the stuff of legend. There are stories about Bollywood celebrities who came to know about how their finances were being (mis)managed by their parents only when the taxmen knocked on their doors and laid out the documents on the table for assessment, and members in joint families who were more scared about the details of the findings being disclosed to their own family members than the tax guys.
Once a raid is complete, the taxmen leave with unaccounted cash and valuables, people from whom the discoveries are made are called in later to tax offices. Between the raids and the summons, family members use the time setting records straight with each other. Sometimes, the process starts in the presence of taxmen.
There are anecdotes about wealth being found in the strangest of places and then the numerous faux pas of the department where they dug up floors and brought down walls only to find the suspect had outsmarted them.
And while many such stories have been fictionalised and used in films, Mankotia tells you just how taxmen get the whiff of where the cash is and what they do when during raids they get calls from seniors or peers saying, "Zara dekh li jiyega."
What about all the 'bribes' that come in the form of gifts during Diwali? Dealing with so many gifts is no child's play. The planning-plotting to make the best use of everything that comes in is hair-splitting. Those who don't get it, may say, "What the actual hell. The grass is greener on the side of the taxman during Diwali!" But there is only as much a person can take as can fit into his house. Ajay's wife, Atima, joins him in this book to tell the tales of how she handled this problem of plenty.
Mankotia narrates with verve what happened when demonetisation, an exercise aimed at cracking down on black money, came in. Read his book to know how demonetisation's biggest 'victim' was hoarding on "number teen ka paisa". No, we're not saying what it is.
And read this book to know that civil services are not only about being IAS and IPS officers. They are about taxmen too.