Now, transgenders can file tax online
With two days to go for filing returns for the assessment year 2017-18, transgender persons can now file their income tax returns on the e-filing website of the Department of Income Tax by submitting their Aadhaar numbers.india Updated: Mar 29, 2018 23:01 IST
The income tax e-filing website has been modified to accept returns from those with transgender Aadhaar cards.
With two days to go for filing returns for the assessment year 2017-18, transgender persons can now file their income tax returns on the e-filing website of the Department of Income Tax by submitting their Aadhaar numbers. Till now, the website did not accept the Aadhaar numbers of many transgender persons.
According to a letter issued by the principal commissioner of Income Tax (Puducherry) Jahanzeb Akhtar, “Changes for incorporation of the third gender identity have been made in the online income-tax return filing facility in the e-filing portal. Necessary changes in the CPC-ITR have also been effected.” (CPC is short for central processing centre and ITR stands for income tax returns.)
The letter, dated March 15, was received by Sameera Jahagirdar, a transwoman based in Puducherry. Jahagirdar had written to Akhtar in February citing difficulty in linking her permanent account number (PAN) with her 12-digit biometric Aadhaar number before the March 31 deadline to link the two, due to a mismatch in gender on both cards.
Many transgender persons have an Aadhaar card with ‘transgender’ as the gender reflected on the card. However, PAN only accepts ‘male’ and ‘female’ during the application procedure. As a result, many in the transgender community have a PAN card with the gender assigned to them at birth, and a different name than the one on their Aadhaar cards.
The mismatch carries many implications, foremost of which was the inability to file income tax returns.
The Finance Act 2017 introduced a provision, Section 139AA to the Income Tax Act (1961), which made the linking of PAN with Aadhaar mandatory.
A gazette notification issued by the ministry of finance last year also made it mandatory to submit the Aadhaar number while filing income tax.
On Tuesday, the finance ministry issued an order that the deadline to link both cards has been extended to June 30.
Reshma Prasad, a transwoman and activist based in Patna confirmed that she was able to link her PAN card and Aadhaar card on the e-filing portal on Thursday.
“While it is good that we can now file IT returns, the larger issue remains that I don’t have a PAN card in transgender identity. This is a real problem for our community,” she said.
Hindustan Times had carried a report on March 1 (In Aadhaar-PAN linkage, a gender lost) listing the issues that transgender persons face because of a mismatch between their Aadhaar and PAN cards. They cannot buy/sell property, register a business, invest money or even open a bank account because all these activities require an Aadhaar card that must match their PAN card on demographic details like name, gender and date of birth.
A spokesperson for the Central Board of Direct Taxes told HT on Thursday, “The issue that you have flagged about there being no column for third gender in the PAN application form has been actively considered in CBDT and we have taken it up.”
Besides Jahagirdar, transgender persons around the country had appealed to the office of the commissioner of income tax in their respective states citing the difficulty that they faced in linking the two cards.
Last year, the Lakshya Trust, a community organisation that works with transgender persons in Vadodara, wrote to Vadodara’s chief commissioner of income tax. Prasad also wrote a letter to the Patna office and moved the court on this matter. A special leave petition filed on March 7 by the Human Rights Law Network on behalf of Prasad has asked the Supreme Court to direct the government to add a transgender column in PAN card applications.
On March 19, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra took up another petition filed by a Mumbai-based transgender woman, on a similar matter. The government counsel had assured the bench that the centre will rectify problems faced by transgender people in linking Aadhaar numbers with PAN cards, allowing them to file their income tax returns seamlessly.