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PAN reform under way, says Chidambaram
July, 05th 2006
Appointment of ombudsmen throughout the country to redress taxpayers grievances

Finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said a reform of the permanent account number (PAN) was under way and this was aimed at eliminating all duplicate PAN cards by December 31, 2006, and introducing new foolproof cards akin to the passport. It is compulsory for new income tax assessees to take PAN.
Chidambaram said out of the 4.5 lakh PAN cards allotted so far, roughly 23 lakh could be duplicates. Those who have multiple PAN cards ought to voluntarily surrender them, the finance minister said, calling it a legacy issue.

The government will soon appoint tax ombudsmen throughout the country to redress the grievances of taxpayers. Tax ombudsman scheme has been notified and the selection process is under way, Chidambaram said after meeting the chief commissioners and director general of income tax. The idea is to resolve disputes or grievances that taxpayers have against the department and make life easy for assessees, he said.

Disputes like delay in refund, non-issuance of PAN card, repeated enquiry on the same issue by the tax department are issues for which there is no legal remedy through the appellate commissioner or ITAT would be taken up by the ombudsman, he said.

Tax ombudsman would be appointed across the country under different jurisdictions and they would have powers to resolve disputes of assesses like consumer redressal forum, he added.

Foolproof And Less Taxing
PAN Reform
It is aimed at eliminating all duplicate PAN cards by Dec 31, 2006
Out of the 4.5 lakh PAN cards allotted so far, 23 lakh can be duplicates
Tax Ombudsmen
The idea is to resolve disputes or grievances that taxpayers have against the department and make life easy for assessees
Tax ombudsman will have powers to resolve disputes of assesses like consumer redressal forum
Massive Vacancies
The finance minister will ask the department of personnel for one-time exception to fill 3,300 posts

Admitting that there was massive vacancy in the tax department because of the governments decision only to fill one-third of new vacancies, Chidambaram said he was going to bypass the procedure and go back to the department of personnel and ask for one-time exception to fill 3,300 posts.

This is not a correct decision. Even if the decision had been taken for other departments, it cannot apply to the tax department. How can you fill only one third vacancies and yet increase revenues every year. There is no magic wand to raise revenue except through assessment, he said.

Chidambaram said he had got a special dispensation from the Cabinet to fill up the vacancies in the I-T department. We have got about 10,000 vacancies. We have got dispensation of 3,300 posts to be filled, he said.

Regarding widening of the annual information returns to cover more areas, Chidambaram said let the government deal with the massive information that it has and then it could add more.

Regarding those who pay securities transaction tax, he said most of them were filing returns. If they are carrying business, they will take credit for STT payment from business tax, he said.

Reiterating that the bank cash transaction tax was not intended to raise revenue, the finance minister said, ideally the BCTT collection should be zero as this would mean that all transactions would be through bank channels.

He said computerisation of the I-T department would be complete before it was formally launched. The government was seeking external advice in this regard.
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