In an official statement issued on Sunday, the Income Tax department has revealed that it has made history with a quantum jump in the e-filing of Income–Tax Returns (ITRs) with an all-time high record of 49 lakh 29 thousand and 121 ITRs filed in a single day on August 31, 2019.
31st August was the last date of filing income tax returns after it was extended by a month. According to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the peak filing rate per second on August 31, was at 196 ITRs and peak filing rate per minute was at 7447 ITRs.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) frames policies for the tax department. The CBDT data showed that more than 5.65 crore returns were filed till 31 August 2019, marking a 4 per cent increase in the filings from the 5.42 crore returns filed in 2018-2019.
On the last week of August, a rumour was spreading on social media that the last date for filing ITR has been extended again. But the Income Tax department had issued an advisory stating that no such extension has been given. The department had asked citizens to file the returns within the extended due date of August 31, 2019.
Due to the department’s efforts in providing pre-filled forms as well as guidance to taxpayers through social media, the filing of tax returns surged 41 per cent on the last date to 49 lakh filings in the assessment year 2019-20 from the previous year.
Moreover, as a part of a new arrangement to link both Aadhar and PAN, a notification was issued by the CBDT on August 30, which says that if taxpayers file ITR with only Aadhaar, they will be automatically alloted PAN (Permananet Account Number) by the I-T department. It said that if a person who does not have PANm furnishes only Aadhaar number for filing returns, “shall be deemed” to have applied for allotment of PAN and they will not be required to apply or submit any more documents.
The notification said the tax department will “obtain demographic information of an individual from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)” for allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN). This rule has come to effect from September 1, 2019.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech on July 5 announced that PAN and Aadhaar are being made interchangeable as the government will allow those who do not have PAN to file I-T returns by simply quoting their Aadhaar number and use it wherever they are required to quote PAN.
On being asked whether the Income Tax Department-issued PAN will be dead, CBDT chairman P C Mody had told PTI in an interview in July that the department would “suo motu” allot a fresh PAN to a person who files I-T Returns (ITR) with only Aadhaar as part of a new arrangement to link the two databases. “In cases where Aadhaar is being quoted and PAN is not there, we could possibly think on the terms of allotting a PAN to the person (who is filing an income tax return).” “The law provides that the assessing officer can suo motu allot PAN. So, if Aadhaar is being quoted without PAN, I give him the PAN. It becomes linked,” Mody had said. This means that the PAN will continue, and individuals who have Aadhaar but not PAN will be issued PAN automatically.
Aadhaar is issued to individuals only, while PAN is issued to corporate and other non-personal entities too who pay tax and file returns, and the entire Income Tax database is based on PAN. Therefore, it seems logical that PAN will continue to be used even if interchangeability with Aadhaar had suggested that it will become obsolete.
The government has made it mandatory to link the two databases. While Aadhar is issued by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to an individual, PAN is a 10-digit alphanumeric number allotted by the tax department to a person, firm or entity.
The information provided in an Aadhar, that is the individual’s name, date of birth, gender, photo and address, and also biometrics, is the same which an individual person would require to acquire a new PAN. As per data, over 120 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued in the country and about 41 crore PAN numbers have been generated. Out of these, more than 22 crore PANs are linked with Aadhaar.
Section 139 AA (2) of the I-T Act provides that any individual who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar or is having PAN as on July 1, 2017, is required to declare their Aadhaar number to tax authorities. After the Supreme Court upheld the section 139AA, the government in March this year declared that the deadline for linking PAN-Aadhaar was till September 30. If the PAN of individuals are not linked with Aadhaar within 30 September, such PANs will become invalid. Residents Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir have been exempted from this where Aadhaar penetration is low.
Last year the SC had upheld that the Government’s flagship Aadhar scheme as constitutionally valid and declared that the biometric ID would remain mandatory for filing of I-T returns and allotment of PAN.
Now, according to the latest notification, the tax department will be “responsible for evolving and implementing appropriate security, archival and retrieval policies in relation to furnishing or intimation or quoting or authentication of Aadhaar number or obtaining of demographic information of an individual from the UIDAI, for allotment of permanent account number and issue thereof”.