How to clear CA – Final Paper 7: Direct Tax Laws

Exams are always around the corner for aspiring Chartered Accountants, aren’t they? That’s why I thought I would share this post, tell you what I learnt through my journey and maybe help you find a way through the awful month of May / November.

 

A little heads up before we begin – I became a Chartered Accountant after clearing the May 2016 exams so though I’m still fairly new and I know the most up-to-date system, this article is for the students who are attempting their examinations under the old scheme.  Also, I opted to self-study for this subject, which I think helped me a lot in being able to write this article.

 

So, without further ado, let’s get into the plan, shall we?

 

How to clear your Direct Tax Laws paper:

 

Let’s divide this into three parts so that it’s clear and I can cover everything without confusing you. The first part is the REFERENCE MATERIAL, the second part is the TIME MANAGEMENT and the third part is the PAPER PRESENTATION. I believe that it is the combined implementation of these three that helps a student write the exam successfully.

 

REFERENCE MATERIAL:

 

Logically, it makes sense to me that since the suggested answers / answer key is coming from the institute, naturally so should the material you study from. This is what I tell everyone who ever asks me for advice about clearing not only this subject, but any subject. However, for DTL, it is difficult to refer to the study material because of how complex it is. Please note that I am not going to depend the basis of my plan on whether you went for coaching or not. Regardless of that, here are my suggestions:

 

  • Guides (More details below)
  • Practice Manual
  • The most recent two RTPs
  • Last four to six Mock Papers (Conducted by ICAI)

It is pretty straight-forward. All you have to do is study from these books.

Now that you know what to refer to, let me briefly tell you how to sort it all out. This is the order in which I recommend you study.

1) Guides: This is the book that is going to give you the complete understanding about the subject. You will need to read theory, practice sums and memorize case laws from this book. So choose wisely. Some famous options are Vinod Gupta and TN Manoharan. I opted for the latter, simply because I found the structure better in the sense that there was more clarity within the content bifurcation. Other than these two, there is a third book ‘RCC for CA Final Direct Taxes’ by CA Ravi Chhawchharia that is really picking up these days. So you can use any of these three for your attempt.

2) Practice Manual: For DTL, the PM is very useful because of how in-depth and detailed this subject is. This book will help you focus more on the important questions and chapters once you are done reading the guide above. Don’t think that studying just the practice manual will get you through for sure. This book is ONLY for revision.

3) Revision Test Papers: I would suggest getting at least two RTPs and using these as exams to test how good you are at the subject. Naturally you will be solving this a week or two before the exams. But make sure that you put in equal effort in correcting your own answers and learning from your mistakes because otherwise this is a pointless exercise.

4) Mocks: I used to solve many mock papers when I studied. I never went to the institute to write them but downloaded them from the website, printed them out to get a real examination kind of feeling, set the alarm to three hours and write the papers as though they were my final exam. I suggest you to do the same. Before correcting your own paper, give a half an hour gap between writing and correction. Also, be stingy with marks. As stingy as possible. This will help you prepare for the worst.

TIME MANAGEMENT

It is easy to understand what you are supposed to study from but very difficult to plan how to cover everything in 3 months, especially when there are other subjects to cover as well. I’m going to help you do just that. But please note that this period of three months should not involve coaching for this subject but rather should be the plan after the initial coaching period. I’m only guiding the self study portion. DTL is one of the larger and more time consuming subjects. Here is how you can try your best to cover as much as possible:

Let us have an aim of studying for a minimum of 10 – 12 hours per day. Even if you do wake up between 5 – 6 AM and start studying, ten hours is easily achievable and a definite must if you want to cover all subjects.  So, I am going to try and split it up for you into two parts. Major and Minor.

The ‘Major’ part under DTL covers ‘PGBP’, ‘Capital Gains’, ‘Assessment Procedures’, ‘Collection and Recovery of taxes’ and ‘Company Assessment’ while the ‘Minor’ part covers the rest of the chapters. Please note that these are falling into the ‘Minor’ portion not because of lack of importance but because they are fairly less time consuming to study.

My strategy was to create short notes as I was studying each chapter. The way I did this was to read a certain page or two, create a table, flowchart or even write in words the important part and then use it later just before the examination. The key here is to condense 50 pages of a chapter to 5 pages of short notes. Alternatively, buy a highlighter and highlight the keywords within the book itself.

Try to do the ‘Major’ part at the time of the day where your brain is completely awake! For me it’s early morning. Find your peak time and try to finish as many pages / concepts as possible for every chapter. Don’t leave a chapter midway. That will not ensure efficiency. Start a chapter only when you know you have the time to complete it.

Your target is to complete the Guide in 15 to 18 days. This is achievable even while studying for other subjects. But if you prefer to study only one subject at a time, and you want to allot 10 – 12 hours per day only for this subject, then give yourself a target of 8 – 10 days only. It is easily achievable, so don’t worry. Take a grace day or two if required.

RTPs (2) and Mocks (4) – Together this will take a total of 4 – 5 days. Ideally it is a last minute check on your performance to evaluate how ready you are and what chapters you will need to quickly brush up on. Again, correcting your paper is a must. I can’t reiterate enough how vital this is. There is no use to solving a mock paper or an RTP if you don’t take the time to correct your papers.

PRESENTATION

Now comes the most important part. This is one that most students neglect or don’t really take all that seriously.  A lot of you believe that as long as the answers are correct and that your effort goes into the preparation, how your answer looks on the final paper doesn’t really matter. Here are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to be able to successfully complete your paper.

1) DTL has both practical and theoretical components to it. Underline the sub-headings in every answer.

2) Use bullet points and split lengthy answers into paragraphs as much as is possible

3) Definitions are very scoring but also tricky to answer if you don’t remember keywords. Present those well.

4) Provide appropriate conclusions, workings and calculations within your answer sheet.

And finally, it is absolutely alright if you haven’t been able to clear in the first shot. I mentored a lot of students so far and one beautiful thing I’ve noticed is how they are able to put in more focus and effort by following these steps. Most of you only require a sense of direction and that is what I wanted to help provide. You know what hard work means, you know what Chartered Accountancy is about. All you are unsure of is how to approach it.

Change isn’t something that comes instantly. It’s a gradual process. But once you reach the top, there is no looking back. Give it time, be patient and just give the exams your best shot. I am not going to say ‘All the Best’. Instead, I am going to say, just do your best.

So, that’s all I have for you today.
Coming up next is my tips for INDIRECT TAXATION.
I hope you have a wonderful day.

IKEA Hyderabad: An Experience Beyond Imagination

IKEA opened its first store in India at Hyderabad on August 9th. *Lame Proud Moment*

Needless to say, I was one among the THOUSANDS that was awaiting this moment with bated breath. Okay, perhaps I went slightly beyond just the anticipation. When IKEA decided to postpone their initial launch from the 20th July, I was devastated. I locked myself in my room and added another 20 days to the calendar, feeling heartbroken. Imagine Samara from ‘The Ring’. That was me.

But life moves on, and eventually the days actually passed by pretty quickly as I immersed myself in the routine.

9th August, 2018

Then came the opening day. Sadly for me, it was a Thursday which meant I could not go. Because I am a grown up with responsibilities. *Sigh* That was a big blow to my happiness, to be honest. But I waited, trying not to listen to the numerous stories about IKEA that everyone had to tell me. That night, as I sat in a 3 hour long traffic jam to go home, I decided it was time to take matter into my own hands. I applied for leave (I hope my manager isn’t reading this!) and set the clock to 7 AM the next morning. It was settled. I HAD to go.

10th August, 2018

I started off at 9 AM after spending the entire morning chasing my mother and sister outside the house. We wanted to be there early so we didn’t drown in the humongous crowds. Well, thankfully, our plan worked and we were among the first hundred people waiting at the gates for the ‘shopping palace’ to open at 10 AM.

The anticipation was unbearable. As the clock struck 10:05, I was about to break into a sweat when I noticed they were finally letting us enter. Gulping down happy tears, we then made our way into what can only be termed as the LONGEST maze of our lives. After walking through the zig-zagged barricades for eternity and then feasting our eyes on the ‘actual’ entrance, we were overjoyed. From this step on, here is how the whole journey went.

Time: 1 Hour

Showroom Section

We were led to the first floor which is the area that has the showroom containing readily set-up furniture and decor. After collecting our cloth bags, pencils and notepads / direction guides, we entered the gorgeous segments. The best part was how these settings were structured. You have 11 sections in total, such as Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom and so on. For example, the living room contains around 4 – 5 different settings of how your living room could look – with book cases, couches, etc.

So, the whole concept is divided into four steps.

  1. Walk into each setting and look around at all the decor
  2. If you like something you see, search for the price tag attached to it
  3. Take images of the tag on your phone
  4. Pick them up from the marketplace / self-service section on the ground floor (explained later in this article)

Be warned that this will take you a few hours to complete as you go from one segment to another, taking images, talking to various staff, gaining more perspective and discussing potential objects with whoever has accompanied you. At any point, if you get exhausted, you can always go back out towards the restaurant (explained below) that is on the same floor.

Time: 3 Hours
Recommendation: Bedroom Section

Restaurant

The IKEA restaurant is beautiful. It is the first time I’ve seen this ‘supermarket’ style concept for a restaurant in Hyderabad. The idea here is that you need to pick up your trays, your food and you glasses (for beverages – hot and cold) and then make your payment at cash counters. After this, you take your empty glasses, go over to the fountain drinks section and enjoy the unlimited refills. There are vegetarian and non-vegetarian options as well as continental food that will surely not disappoint.

Time: 1 Hour
Recommendation: Coffee, Bread Varieties

Marketplace

Now it’s time to get back on your feet!

You will need to take the MASSIVE lifts and go down to the ground floor. Then, exchange your cloth bags for trolleys and then you will be led into partitions 13 through 27. You may think you don’t need a trolley. Well, think again. This marketplace is where you will be able to pick up every item (excepting furniture) that you saw on the first floor within the showroom. Once again, this is structured into segments such as ‘Home Organization’, ‘Decoration’, ‘Lighting’, ‘Fabrics’ and so on. You’ll find a lot more variety, colours and options as you go through each of these sections. At 23, the marketplace ends and if you look down at your trolley, you will find a heap of items that you never intended on buying!

Time: 2 – 3 Hours
Recommendation: Lighting, Outdoor Furniture

Self-Serve

Finally, the furniture. Everything is flat-packed in cardboard boxes in aisles and racks. If searching for your items seems difficult to you, just walk over to the computers set up at the centre of each room and type in the codes. From here, you can add the products to cart, take a print of the items you want and have someone assist you with finding these items. Alternatively, you can also walk over to the information desk, give them your printout and ask for the products to be delivered to you. At a cost, of course. But worth it, in my opinion!

Time: 1 Hour
Recommendation: The Online Purchase Option!

Billing Counter and Beyond!

There are multiple billing counters with IKEA paper bags too. Just get your products billed, make the payment and push the trolley out. But wait! There’s more. You can also check out the IKEA Cafe and get yourself some really economic treats while you rest your aching feet.

Recommendation: Yogurt Ice Cream

You also have additional services like refund counters – with a 60 day refund policy, delivery counters and collection counters – for self serve items.

To Sum Up

IKEA will take you on a wonderful experience and convert ‘shopping’ into a complete day’s event. The staff is very helpful, friendly and will guide you through any issues you may have. The entire store is extremely spacious and even with weekend crowds, it doesn’t feel suffocating. There are easily accessible and well-maintained washrooms that you can use whenever you need to. Plus, there is also a play area for children too! Also, parking is spacious.

I absolutely LOVED visiting IKEA and despite blowing nearly half my month’s salary there, I don’t regret a single minute or rupee. Definitely do go visit, for the experience, if not for anything else.

Final recommendation: Go around 9:30 AM and do NOT go after lunch, at least for the next couple of weeks. The enjoyment will be lost in such heavy crowds.

Product Review: Lousfa Shea Butter

I have always loved the idea of shea butter because of how natural it is. Made from the seeds that come from the Karite tree, it is not only rich in vitamins (A, E and F) but also provides UV protection for the skin.

It has so many fascinating uses, right from moisturizing skin to protecting hair and even repairing damaged nails. But I was always apprehensive about buying shea butter because I wasn’t sure how I could guarantee that the brand I chose was actually selling me the purest form of it.

So naturally, when Lousfa (Kothari Productions) came out with this 100% pure and raw shea butter, I was intrigued. Despite my initial dilemma, I decided that I would take the plunge and make the purchase from Amazon.

Packaging and Delivery

I got the product three days after placing the order, which I feel is quite prompt. It was delivered on the day that I was promised so no complaints there. Further, the packaging was quite sturdy too. The shea butter bottle came in a cardboard box and inside, it was wrapped tightly with a plastic film. Overall, sturdy packaging and quick delivery, so brownie points to the seller for that!

Usage

Just to be cautious, I started using the product on my fingertips and hands. When I opened the lid, I was pleasantly surprised to see a firm and thick substance with a buttery feeling to it. Instantly, I understood why shea butter was known for its moisturizing effects. It was soft and smooth against the skin but the best part was how long lasting it really was. For nearly 10 hours after I had applied it on my nails, my fingertips were feeling freshly cared for.

Over the course of the next few days, I found many other uses for it:

  1. To reduce the redness and burning from sunburn
  2. For massaging into the skin, especially on dry areas
  3. On chapped lips as a balm
  4. For inflammation arising from bruises or weather changes
  5. As a general moisturizer
  6. As a hair mask along with aloe vera gel and honey

Final Verdict

All in all, I found the product quite useful for regular skin and hair care. It really does feel 100% organic. Lousfa shea butter is a definite recommendation from my end.

Score: 4.5 / 5

 

If you would like to have your product reviewed, please do write to me at inkspression.shravyagunipudi@gmail.com