The government has decided to issue biometric PAN cards to taxpayers across the country to weed out the duplicate and fake ones. The decision was recently taken by the finance ministry and it comes in the wake of a Comptroller and Auditor General report that asked the Income Tax department to ensure a single tax payer was not issued multiple cards. The proposed new biometric Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards would bear the I-T assessee’ fingerprints (two from each hand) and the face. There could be an option to existing PAN card holders to opt for the biometric cards, but it may not be mandatory, a senior official in the I-T department said.
The Finance Ministry and the I-T department had put on hold the biometric PAN card project last year to avoid duplication with the UID numbers, to be issued by Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identity Authority of India. “The bioemetric PAN card project is on again. The step will be very important when it comes to stopping the misuse of this vital identity document,” top finance ministry sources said. The biometric PAN card was proposed in 2006 by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram to counter the problem of duplicate PAN cards uncovered during I-T searches and raids by police and other enforcement agencies. The CAG report on direct taxes for 2010-11, tabled in Parliament recently, has revealed that 95.8 million PANs were issued till March 2010 but I-T returns filed in the last financial year were only 34.09 million. The gap between PAN holders and the number of returns filed was 61.7 million, the CAG has said. Suggesting the Central Board of Direct Taxes to identify the reasons for the gap and use the information to enhance the assessee base, the CAG said it might be due to issuance of multiple cards and death of some card holders.