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Home » Civil Services » IRS

IRS (Indian Revenue Service)

Indian Revenue Service
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Name of Civil Services : IRS (Indian Revenue Service)

Exam Pattern :

Selection is through the Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission through a three-stage combined selection process.

The first stage, the Civil Services Prelims is composed of two objective exams: one of General studies and one of a subject of one's choice amongst a given list of subjects.

The candidates can choose to be examined in about forty fields, from Civil Engineering and Medicine to Chinese Literature and Accountancy. This is purely an eliminatory stage and plays no part in the final rankings. About 5000-6000 of the applicants are selected for the next stage called the Civil Services Mains. The second stage is more exhaustive. It has nine papers of which two are qualificatory in nature. One has to choose two optional sujects of once's choice as compared to one in the Preliminary stage. There are two papers of General Studies, Optional 1 and Optional 2 and one Essay paper. Around 1200-1400 aspirants clear Mains and sit for the third stage i.e the Civil Services Interview . Every candidate is asked to choose their preference of services before the interview. Almost all of them choose IAS as their first choice but a few opt for Indian Police Service or the Indian Foreign Service. Indian Revenue Service is usually the fourth choice. The entire selection process lasts fifteen to twenty months. Repeated attempts are allowed (maximum of 4 times).

Description :


IRS Officer Trainees (OTs, as they are fondly referred to) undergo a 3 month foundational training with their fellow officers from All India Services and other Central Services (Group A) at Lal Bahadur National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) Mussorrie (Uttarakhand) followed by a 15 month rigorous professional training in NACEN Faridabad for the officers of Customs and Excise or NADT Nagpur for officers of Income Tax, where they are intensively trained in principles, concepts and advances in Management, Taxation. Public Policy and Law.


Starting with the prestigious post of Assistant Commissioner, IRS officers rise up to Chief Commissioner level with some fortunate ones reaching the post of Member/Chairperson - CBDT / CBEC. The Revenue Secretary who heads the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance is usually an IAS officer. They are also deputed to the Vigilance Department, Enforcement Directorate, SEBI, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau, etc. apart from heading various cells in the Ministry of Finance. However the administrative acumen of the service has now started getting recognition of late. One of the previous Chief Election Commissioner was an IRS officer. One of the present member of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is also a member of IRS.

Career prospects

Though the pay is much lower than in private sector, given the high talent and intelligence of the recruits, the unparalleled power, perks, and prestige make up for it. Officers also feel an added sense of satisfaction that comes from directly contributing to the development of the country, revenue being the source of all developmental works of a government. Their contribution can be judged from the fact that with a total strength of around 5000 officers (in direct taxes) and an added 2500 (in indirect taxes), the IRS are responsible for collection of direct/indirect taxes worth tens of thousands of crores of rupees ( 1 crore = 10 million). Presently only 3% of Indian population comes in the direct tax bracket. Similarly the Service Tax has only started picking up of late due to very few services in the tax net. With the economy booming, the IRS is bound to play an increasingly important role in the affairs of the state. As the country liberalises further, the economic power will shift into private hands with the public-private participation being the keyword. Hence the IRS officers will be at the interaction point between the private industry and the government. This is being recognised in one of the reports of The Economic Times which foresees a high demand for IRS officers in the private sector considering their wide range of experience in manning various fiscal and monetary policy centers as well as field formations.

Candidates prefer the IRS above other premier services due to relatively low political interference, greater leisure time, stable tenures, and postings to big cities.


As with other government service there are many allegations of corruption. The introduction of automated interfaces using electronic technologies have the potential of reducing such shortcomings in the system.

The IRS needs bright, young, honest, and dedicated people with a high sense of morality, integrity and love for the country. The nature of job brings out the jewel in him/her. An IRS officer on posting is entrusted with the task of completing the assessment of the tax returns (as in Income Tax, Central Excise and Service Tax) or border control in relation to import and export of goods (as in Customs). It requires prolonged verifications and inquiries. An IRS officer gets limited staff to assist him in this task. The reduction of manpower in the field in recent years has had a bearing on this. However promotion prospects and deputation posts are a major demoralizing factors among the officers as these have be monopolized by the IAS which has captured several benefits for itself due to being in the decision making seat for other services as well as itself. Both the services are adapting to changes in India's economic framework in last fifteen years in the form of liberalization and globalization.

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