Date: 9 November 2001
Time: 19:00 hours
Venue: My office
A man in his early forties whom I had engaged in professional work walked into my office to discuss the modalities of payment.
“I suppose you will pay me in cash,” he asked.
A shade taken aback, I said, “Nope. We pay by cheque.”
“Why so?” His voice had an edge.
I smiled. “Because we have no one to draw cash.” I thought the response was clear enough.
Far from it, as he said, “My office guy can draw for you.”
“Well, we don’t work that way. We pay by cheque.”
“Okay, let the payment go in my wife’s name.”
“But she is not the one who is rendering professional service to us. Is she?”
“That’s okay since I am asking you to do so.”
“What if tomorrow another lady walks into our office saying she is your wife?” I thought my attempt at bad humor would unsettle him.
He wasn’t yet done. “Fine. Pay me. But let there be no tax deduction at source.”
“Sorry, that’s not the law of the land. The law is that if you earn Rs 100, you keep Rs 70 and the government takes Rs 30. We deduct TDS on behalf of the country as an honest middleman.”
Grudgingly he agreed. In the space of a year or so, we parted ways. That was not surprising, as our wavelengths didn’t match.
The irony: this man was a chartered accountant. Cash payment, surrogate income, no TDS. Phew.