Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to answer Theory Questions of Law and Tax in CA Final Exams?

I almost never wrote answers for Taxation or Law in an essay manner. Here's a structure I've followed in all my exams, be it for CA, CS or CMA. Hope it'll work for you too.

1. Facts of the case: (break the question down into it's most important facts and list them down briefly as bullet points)

2. Point of contention: (specify the main dilemma raised by the question in case of a case study)

3. Provisions of the law: (list down all the important provisions of the law relevant to the question in bullet points)

4. Section/Case Ref.: (mention the Section number and case references, if any)

5. Conclusion/Judgment: (conclude by linking the facts of the case with the provisions of law)

Even though most of my answers followed the same structure with the same headings for the 5 main points, making it look monotous, I believe it helped me break the answer into relevant bits for the examiner, making it easier for him/her to give me marks.

How to register a complaint for Income Tax Evasion by someone in India?

You can write to the Directorate General of the Income Tax Department (Investigation) giving complete details of who you think has committed a tax fraud and is likely to do so again.

The address and contact details of the officers of the Investigation Department can be found here

 Directory of Officers

Can a Person become a "Financial Consultant" after clearing CA IPCC and CS Executive?

Can he use the title on his business card in case he is in the business of a "financial consultant"? Probably yes, but that would have nothing to do with his half-completed qualification.

Remember that neither Instititute would back that claim or issue a certificate to acknowledge such "advisory" capabilities. So, you would be doing it at your own risk. Do not use these educational qualifications as basis for such a claim.

Which is the best book for Auditing in CA IPCC

I found Paduka's book authored by Sarvana Prasath and G. Sekar the best.

It is the most detailed, which ensures that you understand the subject completely to be able to tackle any question in the exam. The size is intimidating, but it's a wonderful piece of work.

My advice comes from my experience of authoring and editing a book on Auditing for B.Com students.

-Sarthak Ahuja

Why does CA have such a low pass percentage? Why do CA students fail?

What is the main reason for every engineering aspirant not being able to make it to IIT or every aspiring doctor not being able to secure admission in AIIMS?

It takes hard work. You don't need to have an IQ over 150. You just need to study the syllabus, practice as much as you can and get as much practical exposure as you can during your articleship.

You may say that engineering and medical colleges have limited seats and CA does not, but that's an incorrect way of looking at it. To explain through an economics analogy, professionals are like a product; if the supply exceeds the demand, the value goes down.

I'm sure you can understand that the profession will be able to maintain its standard only if the deserving pass the exams.

How difficult is it to set up a CA practice?

My parents started their CA practice a little over 25 years ago. They say how for the first 2-3 years they had hardly any clients to earn anything from. They had to draw money from their savings to meet office expenses initially. They would broom and mop their one room rented premises themselves, and also cut on personal expenses, bringing personal needs to only the bare minimum. So, one needs a lot of patience to keep going.

How quickly you build clients depends majorly on your networking skills. I would suggest speaking at ICAI's study circles, contributing articles to the Institute's journal and authoring a book on a professional subject in your free time to develop your brand name in the industry.

You must also build a circle of friends among young company secretaries, cost accountants and advocates so that there can be mutual sharing of work without any conflict of interest.

-Sarthak Ahuja

How can a CA market himself?

Networking is key, as I'm sure most people have already told you. The ICAI does not allow CA's to advertise. Hope you have gone through the Professional Ethics on the same. So, a few ways to market yourself are: 

1. Develop a blog and write original articles related to trending tax and corporate law issues. You could take some idea from my blog at Sandeep Ahuja & Co.

2. Contribute articles to professional journals.

3. Author a book. Nothing like getting your name out in the market through a professional work of writing under your belt.

4. Go to every seminar that you can afford to. Don't miss any chance to network.

You get the drift.

Has a One Person Company (OPC) failed to take off in India? Why?

1. The new Companies Act has brought in a number of strict regulations on every form of company. Even though OPC's are exempt from complying with a number of such regulations, the compliance requirements that remain are again not too easy to fulfill.

2. Further, an OPC can have a maximum paid up share capital of Rs. 50 lakhs and an annual turnover of not more than Rs. 2 crores. It puts a cap on the level to which a business can grow. A businessman might not want to change his organizational and legal structure soon on achieving such threshold limits.

3. It does not take away the requirement of filing financial statements with the ROC. Even an OPC will have to file its audited financials on the MCA website annually, which is information that many businessmen would not want to disclose.

4. Certain provisions of the Income Tax law such as those on deemed dividends u/s 2(22)(e) and other restrictions imposed on withdrawal of remuneration from a company by its shareholder-directors prevent people from going for OPC's. Sole-proprietorships seem to be a better option from compliance perspective.

Is BMS (Bachelor of Management Studies) a good course to do along with CS?

I did my BFIA from CBS and then went on to do a CS, CA and CMA. Having studied these courses closely, I'd want you to consider the relevance of both the courses separately first and then together.

As I graduated in 2011, when BMS had not replaced BBS and BFIA, I don't know much about the current BMS syllabus structure. But I have good reason to believe that it's a lot like BBS. I feel it's a good undergrad course to enroll for. However, you must know that the college you do it from makes all the difference. In case you get a better college for B.Com than one for BMS, I'd suggest picking the more renowned institution as in my experience, most of my learning in college was from my peers, and the college environment had more to contribute towards my development than the course content. If you manage to get a seat at CBS, grab it without a doubt.

Theoretical knowledge wise, I feel both BMS and B.Com will provide an equally good content base for you to pursue a CS later.

As the Company Secretary course is mostly about corporate laws, I would suggest an LL.B. with CS so that you understand both, the provisions as well as the procedures of the law.

So pick any undergrad course, do your CS professional course very well, focus immensely on getting the best practical experience during your internship and then also go for an LL.B.

-Sarthak Ahuja

How to Pass CA Final with Just 2 Months Preparation?

Funny you asked me as I did exactly that. However, here's a heads up. I think I was extremely lucky to have passed right on the dot. I had almost no hopes of clearing it with such little preparation, but just about made it. Here's what I did.

1. Give 4 days to the Practice Manual for each subject, except ISCA for which you allocate 3 days. Thus, you have a schedule for 31 days when you're doing all the PM's back-to-back.

2. Remember to mark all the tricky questions and concepts that would require you to give multiple revisions in different colors/markings during this reading.

3. After you're done with the PM's once, repeat the whole process again for the next 31 days, focusing immensely on retaining all difficult concepts and learning them for the exam.

4. During the second session with the PM's, make a list of all questions which you would want to refer one day before the exam. I normally had 50-100 questions listed per subject for last day revision.

5. On the morning of the exam, flip through the RTP, giving special attention to case laws mentioned therein.

Remember that I had a very close shave with my results and I passed only because my 2nd group scores pulled my aggregate above 50%. I would suggest you put in more time in your studies, but like I said, I could manage to pass with just 2 months of study, no prior tuitions, no other books or reference material. So, it's not impossible, but not advisable either.

What is the Expected Salary of a Company Secretary?

For a fresher with not much experience, a starting salary of around Rs. 15000 per month if he works with a firm of practicing company secretaries. And Rs. 25000 per month if he works at a corporate business house.

The growth depends completely on your personal skills and capabilities. With around 15 years of post qualification experience, you can rise up to the level of a CS and Legal Head of a company and draw a salary of anything around Rs. 200000 per month.

Like in any other profession, the amount you earn depends more on how you use your skills than solely on your educational qualification.

Can an Indian CA get a job in US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand?

Accountants are quite in demand in Canada and New Zealand.

The ICAI has a MoU with the Institute of Australia. So, ICAI's members have to take its membership to practice in Australia. Most of your papers would be exempt, and you'll only be required to take one or two exams or probably none at all.

I would suggest finding out about more such MoU's that the Institute may have with other countries. Getting the membership of the country you wish to work in would give you added credibility.

So, find out about it and go ahead. Good luck :)

Which is the Easiest Course out of CA, CS, CPA and CISA?

It's best not to compare these courses as they serve slightly differing objectives. But I hope the following explanation would help you gauge their difficulty level.

1. While the course content of CS is primarily law focused, requiring a student to learn a lot of provisions of various corporate, commercial and industrial laws applicable in India, CA focuses on building expertise in taxation, auditing, accounting, cost accounting, company law and financial management in a more holistic manner. The CA course content is extremely vast in comparison to the CS syllabus and also tries to teach everything in-depth, which makes it one of the best and most respected qualifications in the commerce stream. It goes without saying that CS is comparatively easier than CA. To give you more perspective, it took me not over a month to prepare for CS Finals, but almost 4 months to prepare for the same number of papers in CA Finals.

2. CPA has four subjects and the exam is of an objective type. Now, being objective type doesn't mean that the exam is easy. It's just that being crystal clear on your basics would fetch you marks on an MCQ type paper. The course focuses on giving you a good foundation to understand the subject and also assumes that your real learning will be on the job. You need not more than 10 months to register for, prepare, take the exams and be done with your CPA course. However, to get a license, you will have to do on the job training of about 4 years. Also, CPA requires you to choose the US state for which you would want to take the taxation paper.

3. CISA is on Information System Auditing and is normally done as an additional course to one of the previously mentioned courses. It goes without saying that CA, CS or CPA should form the base for one to later do CISA.

My final opinion on a general toughness level: CA > CS > CPA > CISA

However, this in no way says that one of these degrees is better than the other. You have to choose what you like and then be the best at it.

How to Get a Rank in CA Final Exams?

I did not get a rank in the CA Final exams, so I'm probably not completely qualified to answer this. But I'll give my two cents and not disappoint anonymous who asked me to answer this.

1. I never took tuitions for any subject. Now, this does not mean that you should not seek help for subjects that you might be struggling with. But, not taking tuitions helped me focus primarily on the Institute's material, which helped immensely. So, do not underestimate the Study Material, Practice Manuals, Suggested Answers and RTP's. Do everything that the Institute gives you. Everything! There is nothing more authentic.

2. I took the CA Final in November, 2013, which was my first and only attempt at these exams. I realized that I could write a lot in questions that seemed a bit "out of course" to many others because of the experience I had gained in my Articleship. So, try to learn as much as you can in your CA training. From a learning point of view, I think a varied experience of direct and indirect taxation, corporate laws, auditing and accounting at a mid-sized firm that promises adequate job-rotation is more beneficial than a training at a big firm that will put you in just one role for three years.

3. Shift your focus from getting a rank to getting every answer right. This helps in taking undue pressure off your head. You have no control over who scores better or worse than you. But you have complete control over your will to become a Chartered Accountant who can solve every problem. This change in attitude will help you in a much better way all through your life than just getting a CA rank.

4. Treat every subject with the same level of priority. Your knowledge of one subject may be better than that of another, but remember not to get overconfident.

5. Just do your best and leave the rest to God.

How to Prepare for CMA Exams through Self Study?

I believe you are asking about the CMA exams of the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. As you would already know, the course consists of 3 levels viz. Foundation, Intermediate and Final and it takes at least 3 years to complete the whole course. Understandably, the level of difficulty increases at each level.

In my opinion, it is not very difficult to prepare for the CMA exams through self study. You may follow the following steps in your studies:

1. Read the Institute's study material thoroughly. Highlight points that seem new or important to you, or points that you may wish to revisit during later readings.
2. During your reading, make very short notes of key words. These lists of key words for every topic would help you revise after having completed your course without having to flip through hundreds of pages of your study material.
3. Download and practice all the Revisionary Test Papers (RTP's) issued by the Institute for the past 4-5 attempts. These are easily available on the Institute's website.
4. Download and Practice all the Suggested Answers for the past 4-5 attempts.
5. Revisit the RTP's and Suggested answers repeatedly till you can answer all the types of questions covered in these papers.
6. In my experience, I have noticed a number of calculation and formulae errors in the RTP's. Therefore, it is important to have read your concepts from the study material thoroughly before starting with these papers so that you can identify all the misprints.

With all due respect, in my experience, I have observed that the CMA study material is more theoretical than practical. It is possible that you may find the questions in RTP's to be very different from the type of questions you may have studied in the primary material. To mitigate this, it would be a better practice to go through the topics covered in the study materials and then prepare them from books written for the CA exams. As there are more students for CA in the country, the number of books published for CA students is huge.