Central government readies drive to make PAN universal

  • Timsy Jaipuria, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 19, 2015 07:33 IST
A file photo of CBDT chairperson Anita Kapur. (Vipin Kumar/ HT Photo)

The government will soon launch a country-wide drive to provide a permanent account number (PAN) to all citizens, as part of a broad strategy to keep a tab on a raft of financial activities that operate outside of the tax net.

A PAN number, besides serving as a unique alpha numeric identity for citizens, may also become mandatory in a host of transactions.

For instance, in the budget for 2015-16, finance minister Arun Jaitley has proposed that buying jewellery worth above Rs 1 lakh will require disclosing the buyer’s PAN details. Likewise, quoting PAN (a 10-digit alpha numeric number issued by the income tax department) for payments worth Rs 20,000 or more in cash in property deals will be compulsory.

“In today’s time, the need of a PAN card is much more than a mandatory requirement for filing income tax return,” Anita Kapur, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), told HT in an exclusive interview.

“PAN should be with everyone irrespective of the fact whether the person has any taxable income or not, especially when you are entering into large transactions or making investments,” Kapur said.

“This will be a drive somewhat like the Jan Dhan Scheme. The drive will be launched soon across India,” she said.

The two government agencies that issue PAN cards — UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services Ltd and National Securities Depository Limited — will carry out the new nation-wide drive to issue PAN cards.

There are about 223 million PAN card holders in India as on March 31, 2015, but only 16% of these or 35 million people file income tax returns.

While the income of millions of PAN card holders may be below the tax exemption limit of Rs 2.5 lakh per annum, there could be millions others such as students and homemakers who would be holding a PAN card because it was required for many official purposes.

Until the launch of the Jan Dhan scheme last year, many banks insisted on PAN details before opening an individual account.

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