Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting a PAN made stricter source Business standard

VRISHTI BENIWAL
New Delhi, 24 January
It will not be easy to get a Permanent Account Number (PAN) now, as the Income Tax (I- T) department on Fridayput more conditions for applicants in a bid to crack down on fraudsters.
“The procedure for PAN allotment will undergo a change from February 3. Every applicant will have to submit self- attested copies of proof of identity, address and date of birth documents and also produce original documents for verification,” the Central Board of Direct Taxes ( CBDT) said on Friday.
It said the original documents would be returned after verifying the self- attested copies attached with the application form received at the PAN facilitation centre.
An official said the decision was taken after the department noticed a lot of cases where people were giving false information in the application to get a duplicate PAN in some cases and to get the card even when they were not eligible for it in other cases.
About 1.4 million new PAN cards are issued every year by the department, which is able to verify details of only 0.2 per cent applicants.
Experts said the department’s intention behind the move was to check mala fide cases but it would cause problems for genuine applicants.
“The department is asking for self attested as well as original documents ( for verification only), to be 100 per cent sure about their veracity. But this will make it more difficult to obtain PAN, particularly for foreigners. People might not be comfortable sharing original documents with consultants.
There are practical challenges which might unfold in the coming days and we hope for more clarity,” said Amarpal Chadha, tax partner, EY.
The official agreed it might cause discomfort to some people but the intention was to make the system foolproof. CBDT had found some foreign nationals were using PAN as proof of identity. In most of these cases, a fake certificate of identity and address signed by a Member of Parliament was issued.
By I- T Rules, a depository account statement, bank account statement/ passbook, ration card, passport, voter identity card, driving licence, property tax assessment order and a certificate signed by a Member of Parliament or a Member of Legislative Assembly or municipal councillor or a gazetted officer are accepted as proof of identity as well as address. Currently, about 140 million people have a PAN card in India, while only 34 million of them file their income tax returns. Many people who don’t file returns, get a PAN as it works as an identity proof at many places.
Of the total PAN allotment, 96 per cent are under the category of ‘ Individual’ applicants and the highest fake/ duplicates are also observed under this category.
In March 2011, after finding ahuge mismatch between the number of PAN holders and the number of tax return filings, the Comptroller & Auditor General had asked the I- T department to ensure that asingle taxpayer was not issued multiple cards.
I- T dept wants original ID proof; experts warn of practical challenges

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