The Income Tax department has a new technology tool to check duplicate PAN cards, which also allows the taxman to 'kill' the second one.
The electronic smart platform called the Income Tax Business Application-Permanent Account Number (ITBA-PAN) has been operationalised by the department which will help the taxman and PAN issuing intermediaries to identify such duplicate numbers every time a new application for generation of the fresh IT department-issued unique identity reaches their portals.
"The department earlier used to check against duplicity of PAN in a manual fashion which was not foolproof but the new electronic system is very accurate," a senior official said.
However, in cases of old PAN cards, he said the manual system has to go on.
"There are not many such cases in the old system. Those are being weeded out as and when information is obtained," he said.
In order to ensure that no entity is able to evade tax by way of holding two PAN cards, the IT department has been trying for a number of years to find a smart tool to check the problem. There have been numerous instances in the past when while probing tax evasion and black money cases, investigators found duplicate PAN cards were used to perpetrate the economic fraud.
"The new process will help identification and surrender of duplicate PAN allotted to a person so that further use of the same duplicate PAN allotted to a PAN holder could be stopped," a recent communication, accessed by PTI, from the systems wing of the department said informing field offices of the department about the new technology upgrade.
The new system, upon finding on the ITBA-PAN platform that a duplicate PAN exists, will direct the taxman to inform applicants to approach their respective assessing officer and surrender the duplicate identity and, in case the applicant does not do so, the system will check the bonafides and automatically 'kill' the duplicate identity.
As per latest data, while there are over 24.37 crore PANs registered in the country, there are no accurate figures on the number of duplicate ones.
The government had late last year made quoting PAN mandatory for several transactions, including purchase of jewellery above Rs. 2 lakh, since the beginning of this year.
The effort to popularise the use of PAN in financial transactions, the CBDT had said, is "expected to be useful in widening the tax net by non-intrusive methods.
"They (new PAN rules) are also expected to help in curbing black money and move towards a cashless economy," the Central Board of Direct Taxes had said.