In a country of over a billion people, only 31.5 million people pay taxes, and this is after the number of taxpayers has grown by nearly 11 per cent between March 2002 and March 2006.
In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query by seasoned RTI campaigner P Hari Kumar, 24, of Kasaragod in north Kerala, the finance ministry has said that the number of taxpayers has increased from 28.4 million in 2002 to 31.5 million in 2006.
Replying to another RTI application, the Directorate of Income Tax (Systems) has said that a total of 54 million Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) had been allotted till July 5, 2007.
PAN is a 10 digit alphanumeric number issued in the form of a laminated card, by the income tax department.
In its bid to tighten the tax net and ensure that a larger number of people pay taxes, the government has made it mandatory for everyone to quote the PAN number for income tax returns and correspondence with any income tax authority.
PAN numbers are also needed to open a bank account, pay income tax, purchase and sell shares and securities, purchase movable property that needs registration, apply for visas and passports or bank loan and to file tax returns.
Likewise, there are 1.8 million Tax Deduction and Collection Account Number (TAN) holders across India.
TAN is a 10 digit alphanumeric number that must be obtained by anyone who is responsible for deducting or collecting tax. It is compulsory to quote TAN in TDS/TCS return, any TDS/TCS payment challan and TDS/TCS certificates.