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The popular and all-inclusive identification of the common people in India, Aadhaar card, is now more powerful post the new budget. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has argued in favour of making Aadhaar and PAN (Permanent Account Number) interchangeable. According to a top Government official, Indian citizens can use the national biometric ID for cash transactions of more than Rs 50,000 instead of PAN card. This includes deposit or withdrawal of cash worth or more than Rs 50,000 form bank accounts as well. They can also make use of Aadhaar card for other purposes where generally income tax PAN would be considered as a must so far. Banks and other institutions are working on the back-end upgrade to ease up the acceptance of Aadhaar in places of PAN.
Nonetheless, you need to quote your valid PAN while making cash transactions for hotel or foreign travel bills. To combat the potential risk of black money transactions, the ministry has also planned to make the use of PAN card mandatory on purchase of immovable properties of over Rs 10 lakh.
This new proposal will also benefit the targeted taxpayers who do not yet own a PAN card, but have Aadhaar card instead. It will simply ensure that the commoners would not have to face difficulties while filing income tax returns. But will this step phase out the value of PAN card over time? Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said in answer that people would have a choice to opt for either PAN or Aadhaar whichever necessary. This will not curb the importance of PAN. "Because there are some people who are comfortable on PAN," he said, "But at the back end, for every PAN there will be an Aadhaar."
Following a Supreme Court order, quoting Aadhaar is mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs). Though 41 crore issued PAN cards exist currently, only 22 crore of those have been linked to Aadhaar.
Section 139 AA (2) of the Income Tax Act says that every person who owns a PAN (Permanent Account Number) as on July 1, 2017, and is eligible to obtain Aadhaar, must quote his Aadhaar number to the tax authorities.
The apex court, in September last year, declared that the biometric ID would remain mandatory for filing of I-T returns and allotment of PAN. However, according to the five-judge constitution bench, it would not be compulsory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts. Neither can telecom service providers ask for its mandatory linking while issuing new mobile connections.