As many as 18 crore permanent account numbers (PAN) in the country would be declared inoperative unless they are linked to Aadhaar numbers before March 31, 2021, according to a Hindustan Times report. The Income Tax Department had last made this threat in February, declaring the deadline to be March 31, 2019. It had even allowed linking of PAN numbers that have become non-operative with Aadhaar. According to MyGovIndia, 32.71 crore out of 50.95 crore PANs in the country have been linked with Aadhaar as of June 29, 2020.
Officials told Hindustan Times that it linking the two databases would help nab tax-evaders “conducting high-value transactions” using multiple PAN numbers. The underlying logic is that linking PAN with Aadhaar would make it impossible for citizens to obtain additional PANs. The government also hopes to increase the tax base and reduce evasion, something that Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated recently while launching a new platform for filing tax returns.
Deadlines extended multiple times
The plan to link the two databases is an old one, and the deadline for the same has been extended multiple times before. In June this year, the deadline was extended to the current data: March 31, 2021. The earlier deadline was June 30, 2020. The deadline prior to this was March 31, 2020.
MediaNama has written in the past about the different issues surrounding Aadhaar-PAN linkage and the numerous deadline extensions:
- Too many extensions: In March 2019, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) deadline was extended hours before the deadline. That deadlines are being extended last minute repeatedly indicates that the objective is to create panic and force people into linking PAN with Aadhaar. Beyond a point, such threats would not be taken seriously.
- Procedural issues: The Hindu had reported in March 2019 that people were unable to link PAN with Aadhaar because of mismatch of names in Aadhaar and PAN. This was because PAN doesn’t allow the use of initials, while Aadhaar does. Currently, the UIDAI advises users to change their names in either document for the linkage to go through without hitches.
- No study done on feasibility: The linkage was mandated without sufficient study on the feasibility of linking PAN with Aadhaar, suggesting that it was an adhoc decision.
Meanwhile, there are also plans to link Aadhaar with electoral photo identity cards (EPIC). In August 2019, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had written to the Ministry of Law, recommending the same.
A senior ECI official later told MediaNama that linking the two databases would avoid duplication of voters and help develop a voting system for migrants within the country.