PAN to be most potent tool against tax evasion: I-T Dept
Come next financial year, the PAN card is likely to become the most potent tool for the Income Tax Department to unearth black money, tax evasion and instances of criminal financing in the country.
A recent directive of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to the I-T Dept has asked its officials to launch a special drive against those who have "not furnished their PAN (Permanent Account Number)" while entering into high value transactions.
The drive will end on March 20, eleven days before the current fiscal closes.
The measure has been taken on the recommendations of a high-level committee appointed by the CBDT last year to find those taxpayers who have gone missing without paying taxes, pegged at Rs 1,01,836 crore at present.
The committee under I-T Director General (Administration) was set up to examine pending cases on I-T demands under the categories "assesses not traceable" and "no assets/ inadequate assets for recovery".
A top Finance Ministry official, involved in the planning of the latest drive, explains the idea behind the exercise which is being conducted across the country.
"The PAN card data which the I-T will obtain during the two month drive which started on February 20 will bolster the 360-degree profiling computer-based data-bank of the department. The new PANs will be fed into the system and then whenever a transaction is done using that identity, a flow chart of all credit/debit card, banking and other transactions from it will get displayed for the officer investigating," the official said.
"The 10-digit alphanumeric number (PAN) allotted by the I-T Department to taxpayers will be the most potent tool for the department to unearth tax crimes and evasion," the official said.
This will not only bring about a mechanism of non-intrusive investigation by department without troubling the taxpayer but will also streamline the financial data of each taxpayer for his assessing officer, the official added.
The charter of the drive mandates that taxpayers "will be required" to furnish their PAN if they already have one or "apply immediately for PAN if they do not have one".
"The department has tried to kill two birds with one stone. While the high-level committee found that a number of pending recovery cases reached a dead end because of non-availability of PAN cards, it also found that the PAN database itself is not complete. So while the committee had mandated I-T officials to go door-to-door to intimate such taxpayers, it will now be done under the umbrella of this directive," the official said.
The CBDT has also asked in the latest directive that such people will also be required to explain the source of the high value investments, deposits, expenditure and whether these were properly explained in the I-T returns filed by them.
"Persons who have not properly accounted for the high value transactions are required to pay due taxes and file the I-T return within this financial year, March 31, 2012," the directive said.
"A number of these people are those who figured in the probe of the high-level committee," another official said.
In view of the present drive, the department has also reportedly decided not to publish the names of such defaulters who owe more than Rs 10 crore as unpaid taxes, considering it as an "unfriendly measure" as of now.
The CBDT has also spelt out that there are "penal consequences" of either not reporting or obtaining a PAN card.