Govt plans to link PAN cards with Aadhaar numbers

Govt plans to link PAN cards with Aadhaar numbers

Aadhaar may find its utility further increasing under the Narendra Modi government with the Finance Ministry contemplating to make the unique identification number mandatory for PAN cards to ensure that a second card is not issued for a person.

Duplicity of PAN cards are a “constant source of tension” for the ministry’s Department of Revenue as it could be used for evasion of tax and it is looking at ways to overcome the problem.

The ministry has faced the wrath of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the “disquieting lapse” while examining the issue of duplicate or invalid PAN (Permanent Account Number) cards issued by the Income Tax Department.

The Department of Revenue had admitted to the shortcomings in its system to weed out multiplicity of PAN cards, following which the PAC asked the department to explore the possibility of issuing PAN cards based on biometric data like fingerprints or iris scan or photo.

Though the PAC did not mention Aadhaar, a top official of the Department of Revenue had told the panel led by Congress MP K V Thomas that Aadhaar is a “very useful tool” for de-duplication of PAN cards.

“Duplicate PAN cards, despite our publicity drive, continue to worry us. We never made Aadhaar compulsory with the PAN card. It was optional. As and when if Aadhaar gets populated on the entire PAN card basis, that is a very good method for de-duplication,” the official said.

The government will have to continuously educate people and take action in order to ensure that no one has more than one PAN card, the official said.

When asked whether the ministry had contemplated issuance of biometric PAN cards, the official said, “Right now, even in the I-T form, Aadhaar is totally voluntary. At some stage, we could have asked them by saying: You put your Aadhaar number.”

PAN, a unique 10-digit alphanumeric identity allotted to each taxpayer, is used as a universal identification key to track financial transactions that might have a taxable component to prevent tax evasion. It is illegal for a person to possess two PAN cards.

Though the BJP during election campaigning had talked about reviewing whether to continue with Aadhaar numbers, the Modi government has gone all out for the unique number after coming to power. Several initiatives are now linked to Aadhaar.

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