For Permanent Account Number (PAN) card holders double will very soon be serious trouble.
If you have more than one PAN and have not surrendered the duplicate to the Income Tax (I-T) department then beware. Use of duplicate PAN in your transactions (like banking and other financial transactions) would soon come with a penalty of Rs 10,000.
I-T authorities have set February 23 as deadline for surrender of duplicate PAN cards. "Thereafter, for every single use of duplicate PAN, Rs 10,000 penalty would be levied," said an I-T officer from Aaykar Bhavan, the department's Mumbai head office.
The issue is a cause of concern for I-T authorities as there are about 1.8 lakh duplicate PAN cards with about 1.6 lakh assessees (in Mumbai circle). "Most of them have two PAN cards, but a few even have three," the officer said.
The problem started three years back when the department outsourced the work of allotting PAN to the Unit Trust of India (UTI) and National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).
Before outsourcing, allotting a PAN used to take as much as one year. However, now it is done within a month. "Seeing this, many people who had already applied for PAN with the I-T department and were waiting, approached one of these agencies from where they got the cards before the department could issue them," said another officer. After a few months, the same people got another PAN card from the department. However, most of them did not bother to surrender the duplicate cards.
Some people deliberately got more than one PAN card using different identities. "While one card was used in I-T returns to show the declared income, the other was used for business transactions where quoting PAN was necessary but they wanted to hide that particular income," the officer said.
The authorities had initiated a "de-duplication" drive in July last year. "Letters were written to them," said an officer. Duplicate card holders were also told that if they failed to surrender the duplicate PAN cards by December 31 2006, they would be penalised. But only about 10 per cent assessees responded to this. The department has, however, so far managed to delete 40 per cent duplicate PAN.
I-T authorities have begun another "de-duplication fortnight" from February 12 to February 23.