Jaitley defends PAN-Aadhaar linkage, allays concerns on IT raids

It is an anti-evasion measure and in the benefit of the country, says the Finance Minister

Updated - November 29, 2021 01:27 pm IST

Published - March 22, 2017 07:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Arun Jaitley speaks in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Arun Jaitley speaks in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defended the amendment in the Finance Bill, cleared by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, making an Aadhaar number mandatory for the issuance of a PAN card, saying that the biometric security of Aadhaar would prevent individuals from holding multiple PAN cards and evading tax.

“In a situation where it has come to light that one citizen has up to five PAN cards, to avoid that, we have linked the PAN to Aadhaar,” Mr. Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha. “So, we have said either give Aadhaar or an application for Aadhaar. About 98% of the adult population is covered by Aadhaar and 108 crore cards have been issued.”

“If tax fraud is lessened, then who would have a problem with this?” he further asked, in response to criticism from the Opposition, which said that Aadhaar-linkage was wrong since the matter of the legality of Aadhaar was still in Supreme Court. “It is an anti-evasion measure and in the benefit of the country.”

He also sought to allay concerns in Parliament about aggressive and unwarranted search and seizures by Income Tax officials saying that the assessing officer can only make such searches after recording the source of their information regarding undisclosed income.

Mr. Jaitley also said that the Central Board of Direct Taxes had so far identified 18 lakh names where large deposits were made in banks that were not commensurate with the income profile of these assessees. Communications have been issued to all 18 lakh assessees, the Finance Minister added.

“The fear is that there will be many searches and seizures under Section 132A,” Mr. Jaitley said. “But before searching, the assessing officer has to get the information on undisclosed income. The source of the information and all other details have to be detailed (before the search and seizure can be conducted).”

“The data mining by CBDT and tax authorities has found 18 lakh names of depositors who have desposited large amounts in their accounts following the demonetisation announcement and where this sum does not match their income profile,” Mr Jaitley added. “Communications have been sent to all of these names and 8.78 lakh people have already responded.”

The Finance Minister said that the political verdict of the people on demonetisation is clear, alluding to the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent assembly elections in five states.

“One of the benefits of demonetisation is that the anonymity associated with cash has been hurt, and this will affect the economy,” Mr Jaitley said. “Crime does not end. But does cash incetivise crime? Experience from around the world has shown that more cash leads to more tax evasion and more crime.”

Regarding the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Mr. Jaitley said that the GST Council was trying to implement the new tax regime by July 1.

“The GST Council has met 12 times so far and all the significant decisions it had to decide on were taken by consensus,” he added, saying that it was the government’s effort to avoid taking any decision by forcing a vote.

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