September 25, 2023

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Income Tax Department to Issue Biometric PAN Cards

An individual’s signature can easily be imitated, while a photograph can also be easily tampered with, so new and innovative ways are being devised by the government to minimize frauds. The government has decided to issue Biometric PAN Card to weed out frauds and fakes.

Through Biometrics, specific parts of the human body are mapped to generate a unique signature for every person. This was earlier used in finger-printing, but today it has enfolded palm printing, measurements of the hand iris and retinal scans, etc.

In the wake of a recent CAG report submitted to the Income tax department, they were advised to make sure no single income-tax payer is issued multiple cards. It was then that the finance ministry took the decision of issuing biometric PAN cards.

This new biometric card will bear not one but two fingerprints of each hand and the mapping of the face of the Income-Tax assessee.

According to a senior official of the IT department, it is not mandatory to have a biometric card. For all those who already have a one, they may or may not have a biometric PAN card. It is entirely at the individual’s discretion.

This proposal had been stalled by the Income Tax Department and the finance ministry to avoid duplication with the Unique Identity numbers to be issued by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI). But now according to the version of top sources from the finance ministry, “The biometric project is on again. The step will be very important when it comes to stopping the misuse of this vital identity document.”

In 2006, it was the then Finance Minister Mr. P Chidambaram, who had proposed the biometric PAN card, after many frauds about duplicate ones were uncovered by police and IT raids.

According to the CAG report presented in the Parliament for the year 2010-11 recently, it was found that till March 2010, 958 lac PAN cards were issued but only 340.9 lac Income Tax returns were filed in that fiscal year which means a gap of 617.1 lac between the number of returns filed and the PAN card holders.

According to CAG, this discrepancy must have been due to multiple PAN cards having been issued, or due to unreported deaths of some of the PAN card holders. It also said that, “The (I-T) department needs to put in place appropriate controls to weed out the duplicate ones and also update the position in respect of deceased assessees.”

After a lot of hurdles and hiccups, the plan has finally been set rolling, and a set of these biometric cards will supposedly be issued by the end of this year, as mentioned by our Finance Minister in a press conference this July. He also said that old cards will be re-issued anew.

The year is about to end but the plan has still not been implemented. The ministries efforts to reduce PAN and tax fraud have started paying off to some extent. Nearly ‘3600 profiling’ of taxpayers has been mooted and tried in New Delhi, providing great security to the financial transactions and a boost to one’s confidence.