Should you go for Inspector of Income Tax or for Sub-inspector of CBI?

It has been a perpetual dilemma of SSC aspirants to choose between the post of sub-Inspector of CBI and Inspector of Income Tax. Both of these posts have a strong sense of power and prestige associated with them and both pay well. Then which one should you choose? I too went through the same dilemma when I appeared in the SSC exam in 2012. Now after working in both the departments for more than 2 years each, I have finally found my answer. I will keep my opinion to myself and present before you only the facts so that you be the judge for yourself.

Sub-Inspector in CBI:

We’ll start with the positives:

Positives of CBI: Highest salary among the entire repertoire of jobs offered by SSC. A sub-Inspector in CBI earns approx Rs. 72,000/- per month in New Delhi (Grade X city). See Salary of a CBI Sub-Inspector: the highest paying job in SSC.

Reputation: The name of CBI carries far more weight than you can imagine. This point cannot be stressed enough. If there are 3 friends, one working in Google, second in Microsoft and the third one in CBI, People will not bat an eyelid at the first two but will take 10 seconds to digest the fact that they are meeting someone who is in CBI. I can personally vouch for that.

CBI has an enigma about it which is difficult to pierce. I have seen jaws dropping in disbelief on the mere mention of CBI. You just need to say that you work in CBI, you have already impressed people. Now, you just need to maintain that first impression.

Power: CBI is a department whose name inspires more fear than awe. It gives its employees courage and unparalleled fearlessness. Armed with the power of CBI, you can enter any public building and make inquiries relevant to the case. CBI is the most powerful department in the entire SSC but it’s an irony that an Inspector of Income Tax has far more immediate power in his hands than does a Sub-Inspector of CBI. Confused? Read about it here.

Office only in Capital cities: This may be a big positive for you. If you are okay with all India transfer policy of CBI then this point is a big consolation for you. You will never be posted in a Z grade city. Mostly, only the capital cities of states house CBI offices, so you can be sure that you will always live in a metro city (See the list of cities where CBI has its offices). A Metro city or metropolitan city has a population of 10 lakhs or more.

Although these are largely the positives of CBI, It also has some innate problems with it. Below is the list of them:

Resource crunch:

CBI is one of those departments which is crippled acutely by lack of resources. Resources mean vehicle for field inquiry, typist for typing, an assistant for routine work, lack of adequate personnel to name a few.

For instance, when I was working in CBI, I needed to visit courts about 2-3 times in a week. Rarely has it been the case that I used the office vehicle for the same. Although every branch has a few bikes and riders for the field investigations, these riders are generally too busy in bringing hot lunch from the homes of DIG/SP. On many occasions, the office work took a back seat because some personal errand of a senior official was too important to postpone.

WHY SI leaves CBI
CBI doesn’t give you resources even for the official work.

Further, CBI procedures involve lengthy documentation. Everything related to the case is documented or written/typed by the IO. These papers sometimes run into hundreds. CBI as a department doesn’t have enough manpower of typists/Data Entry Operators to provide to its IOs. It is ultimately the IO who has to type everything. He is lucky if he has been allotted a sub-inspector or typist for assistance else so help him god! he is on his own. I have seen officers of the level of ASP who were not allotted a typist. An ASP of CBI has multiples cases to investigate so it becomes a bit troublesome when he has to type entire volumes/reports by himself. The problem becomes even worse if you are not proficient at typing.

No fix transfer policy: –

CBI doesn’t have an accommodative, transparent transfer policy. You may have to spend your entire life in one branch at one location or you may be transferred every 3 years. The location preference of CBI generally overrides the preference of its employees. In addition, CBI has all India transfer policy meaning a person from north India may be thrown to south India and vice versa. See detailed article on transfer policy of CBI.

Contrast this with the transfer policy of Income Tax Department.

Although you can submit an application for transfer, you cannot be sure, if you will be transferred or when will you be transferred. Furthermore, CBI has its offices in very limited no. of cities (Generally in the capital cities of states, with a few exceptions) which might be a deal breaker for some of you.

Disturbed family life: –

In CBI, tours are frequent. But there is one branch which has the most number of such tours, Special Crime Branch.

If you are posted in Special crime branch, you may have to be on tour for up to 2 months at a stretch or sometimes even more. This essentially means that your family life will be disturbed and you may get to see your family only after a few weeks. Though such disturbed schedule is generally limited to the special crime branch, occasional tours are a norm in every branch. See What are different branches of CBI and what is the role of Sub-Inspector in each of them.

Moreover, in special crime branch, you can be sure that you will be on tours very frequently. Officials of this branch are advised to always keep a bag of clothes ready.

Sometimes it becomes a bigger nuisance than it sounds. Sample this: You have just returned home at 9 PM from a lengthy tour, you go to the office next day and you are told that you have to go to Punjab for next 2 weeks. What do you do? You have not even had a lunch with your family and you are again leaving them for a few weeks.

Trust me, such situation arises frequently and it’s not glorious. It’s frustrating, to say the least. However, the upside of this all is that you get to visit new cities every few weeks, for free!

If you are posted in Special Unit (SU) branch, the problem takes another hue. Timings in this branch are very uncertain. You are never sure when will you get to go home today. See Special Unit (SU): The black sheep of CBI?

No time for hobbies/personal study:

In CBI, It is highly unlikely that you will ever get to have much time for any recreational activity or for your hobbies. Work in CBI demands focus and attention and more often than not, your family time too.

If you are preparing for UPSC or any other exams, forget it while you are in CBI. In simple words, No, you won’t get time to prepare for any higher exam. Even if you do get some time, you will be so tired from all the exhausting work that only superhuman strength and willpower can drag you back to your study table for any serious study. See Do you get time in CBI to prepare for UPSC?

Occasional work on weekends:

CBI is a heavily overworked department. It will frequently be the case that you have to come office even on weekends to wrap up your pending work. Though, this occasional attendance on weekends is what constitutes towards the 13 months’ salary of CBI employees. So this component is sufficiently compensated by CBI.

You might have heard that CBI people get 13 months’ salary in addition to their regular salary.  Well, to earn those extra bucks, they have to come to the office for 2.5 days every month (effectively 3 days per month) and mark their attendance. 2.5 days per month for 12 months translate to 30 days which is equivalent to a month. This is the hard work that is rewarded. 

Once a sub-Inspector Always a sub-inspector:

A sub-Inspector who gradually reaches to the post of SP is always treated like a sub-Inspector by his superiors. Once a sub-Inspector, always a sub-Inspector, at least in the eyes of IPS officers. From the viewpoint of an IPS, a non-IPS SP is an anomaly which is too familiar to ignore but too inferior to even be given the respect worthy of an SP.

SI promotion in CBI
IPS being an elite club, a non-IPS SP is an anomaly. He is always treated like a sub-inspector.

The non-cooperative attitude of senior officials: It’s precarious to generalize but it’s also a fact that the general tone and mannerisms of senior officials in CBI are a bit non-cooperative towards their subordinates. It is a common feature in all the police departments that they have a rough tone in their speech and they treat everyone like an accused.

Negatives of cbi
A common sight in CBI. The attitude of seniors is generally not co-operative.

Other than this, there are a number of occasions when senior officials can/could help to expedite the office work but they choose not to. If I am to go to court or in the field and I do not have a vehicle allotted to me, Can he not offer me the office vehicle allotted to him just for the time being. After all, that vehicle is there for office purpose only. Rare has it been the case that an SP or DIG has offered his entitled vehicle in the interest of a case. They’d rather have their vehicles gather dust in the basement. Their vehicles are too pristine to be even touched by a sub-Inspector.

Peace of Mind:

People generally underestimate this. Peace of mind is what matters in the end. No amount of money, name, fame, prestige and power could stop me from resigning from CBI. What’s more, I resigned from CBI even before I had another job in my hand.

For all its glory and fame, the one thing that CBI could not give me was my peace of mind. In fact, it took it away from me. Rising pile of work kept gnawed at my mind all day long. Even at the home, a strange fear pervaded the ambiance whenever my phone rang. This is very common in CBI.

The work and the deadline are so hectic that you may have to be on tour even on a festive day. I still remember that I have had to go to other stations by the evening train on the day of a festival. While everybody was with their family celebrating the holiday, I was roaming the streets of Allahabad making sure that the appeal documents reach to the high court in time. It’s not glorious, it’s exhausting.

This pretty much sums up the positives and the negatives of CBI. Now let us examine the post of Inspector of Income Tax:

Inspector of Income Tax:


Attitude towards sub-ordinates: Income tax department is a civilian department which means that the behavior and the attitude of senior officers here is gentle and co-operative. This is in sharp contrast to the culture in CBI.

In CBI, a sub-inspector cannot imagine walking alongside a DIG let alone make a small talk or a casual chit-chat. This is not so in Income Tax Department. In ITD, an Inspector can directly talk to a commissioner or even a Pr. Chief Commissioner. And the plus point in all this is that they genuine listen to you. At least, this has been my observation.

Transfer policy: Income tax department has a very cooperative and transparent transfer policy. Every year, they ask for location preferences and every year the order for AGT (Annual General Transfers) are passed. A transfer is done based on the vacancies at a place and the choice of the candidate.

If you want an immediate transfer due to some urgency, you can submit an application to the Income Tax Employees Federation (ITEF). They can get you a transfer by hook or by crook but you must have a solid reason for requesting the same.

What is the transfer policy in Income Tax Department?

Faster promotions: Promotions in ITD are fast. If you join at the young age of 24, chances are high that you will retire as Jt. Commissioner of Income Tax. This is the only department in entire SSC where the very first promotion gives you a gazetted officer post. Furthermore, you are awarded the tag of IRS once you reach the post of assistant commissioner. 


No resource crunch: Income tax department isn’t that short on resources as CBI is (Maybe because it is a revenue department). ITD has its offices in almost every district. In smaller wards (Technical term: Mufalis station), An Inspector and an ITO are all that an office comprises. Even for such a small number of employees, a vehicle is always at our disposal for any field inquiry.

Petrol Reimbursements: Every Inspector, even the ones in non-assessment units are eligible to claim entitlement of 30 liters of petrol every month. Plus a CUG departmental SIM is also allocated to every employee of the department.

ITEF: Income tax department has a legalized employees union named Income Tax Employees Federation (ITEF). It is an excellent grievance redressal platform for Inspectors and below. If you have been served injustice in any form, you may simply approach the union and they will get you justice if your cause is right.

In case of transfers, if you have a grave situation and you want transfer at any cost, you may approach the union and they will get you the same. It really is a plus point. They also deduct Rs. 50 every month from our salaries for this benevolence.

Peace of Mind: This is golden. Nothing comes close to this for me in a job. If I am not at peace within me then what is the meaning of all this. I am more at peace here than I ever was in CBI.

Negatives: I am yet to find negatives in this department. But in contrast to CBI, the only low point is that the salary of an Inspector in IT is less than the salary of a sub-inspector in CBI. See the salary of an Income Tax Inspector.

Final Verdict: If I have to choose a department of my choice in the entire repertoire of SSC, I’d choose Income Tax.

I left CBI about 3 years ago but I have not regretted my decision till date. Believe me, when I say this, Income Tax Department is the best Job in the entire portfolio of jobs provided by SSC. Although salary here is lesser than that of CBI, It is fairly compensated by the peace of mind and stress-free life that I lead. Plus, I get time to spend with my family and to pursue my hobbies. It’s a bit difficult to do so in CBI.

Choose wisely.

Suggested further reading:

  1.  Part : 3 MythBusters | What are the facilities enjoyed by an SI of CBI?
  2. Thinking of SI in CBI? Don’t choose Delhi.
  3. Part-2: MythBusters | Who is more powerful: CBI SP or a state police SP?

Got a doubt? Drop a line in the comments.

Good luck in your career. love and best wishes.

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