Beware if you hold more than one permanent account number (PAN). The income tax authorities are all set to weed out the menace of duplicate PANs, so if you are one of those holding more than one number, then get it deleted on a priority basis.
With the finance minister setting December 31 as the deadline for doing away with duplicate PANs, the income tax department has armed itself with the data on the number of individuals who hold duplicate cards and will go full throttle to prune that list.
This would also clear up some of the mess in the primary segment of the stock markets. In the course of investigations into the demat scam, Sebi found that several individuals who had cornered shares, had quoted duplicate PANs in their applications.
As per data available with the tax department, 13.10 lakh individuals have been allotted more than one PAN. Since the PANs are the vital clues being used by the department to trace big expenditure trails, if an individual has a more than one number, it is almost impossible for the department to match if the same person has made more than one big expense.
This makes the list of big spenders being thrown up by the annual information returns (AIR) trail, difficult to follow up. The AIRs have brought to light a total of 18,70,410 transactions involving spending of an amount of Rs 13,99,866 crore. Many of these transactions do not carry PANs, or have been carried out by same individuals mentioning different PANs.
So, far about 4.5 crore PANs have been issued. The department receives five lakh applications every month for allotment of PAN. Tax department sources told ET that identification and deletion of duplicate PANs would be carried out through a combination of manual and computer based processes. The finance ministry would also advise the holders of duplicate PAN cards through a media campaign.
They said PAN allotments were based on three information heads an individuals name, his fathers name and the date of birth. These three would now be matched. It would be very rare that information given under all the three heads is same in any two individuals case.
In those cases, where there is difficulty in resolving the problem, it could be matched with the data revealed by the AIR and then, the individual would be advised to come clean on their own before any action or penalty is imposed.