The government has decided to issue biometric PAN cards to taxpayers across the country to weed out the problem of duplicate and fake ones.
The decision was taken recently by the Finance Ministry, in the wake of a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report that asked the Income Tax department to ensure that a single tax payer was not issued multiple cards.
The proposed new biometric Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards would bear the Income Tax assessee's fingerprints (two from each hand) and prints from the face.
There could be an option for existing PAN card holders to opt for the biometric cards, but it may not be mandatory, a senior official in the I-T department said.
The Finance Ministry and the I-T department had put on hold the biometric PAN card project last year to avoid duplication with the Unique Identification numbers to be issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), chaired by Nandan Nilekani.
“The biometric PAN card project is on again. The step will be very important when it comes to stopping the misuse of this vital identity document,” top sources in the Finance Ministry said.
The biometric PAN card was proposed by the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in 2006 to counter the problem of duplicate PAN cards uncovered during the I-T department's searches, and raids by police and other enforcement agencies.
The CAG report for 2010-11 on direct taxes, tabled in Parliament recently, has revealed that 958 lakh (95.8 million) PANs were issued up to March 2010, but I-T returns filed in the last fiscal were only 340.9 lakh (34.09 million).