Permanent Account Number or PAN, as it is commonly called, is a means of identifying various taxpayers in the country. PAN is a unique identification number assigned to Indians, mostly to those who pay tax. The PAN system of identification is a computer-based system that assigns unique identification number to every Indian tax paying entity. Through this method, all tax related information for a person is recorded against a single PAN number which acts as the primary key for storage of information. This is shared across the country and hence no two people on tax paying entities can have the same PAN.
The idea behind PAN is similar to the Social Security Number or SSN used in the United States. SSN in the US is a unique nine-digit number issued to all citizens of the US, permanent and temporary both. Although, the primary aim for SSN creation was to track individuals for social security purposes, it has now become a primary identification number for taxation processes.
Any PAN issued is valid for the entire lifetime of the PAN holder. This is so majorly because PAN is unaffected by any change of address of the PAN cardholder.
New Design for PAN Card
The Income Tax Department has prescribed a new format for PAN Cards issued after 1st January, 2017. The changes made to the new PAN Card have been listed below:
- A Quick Response (QR) code has been printed onto the new PAN Card which will carry details of the card holder. This QR code can be used for verification of data.
- New sections for the name of the card holder, the card holder’s father’s name, and date of birth have been added.
- The location of the PAN and the signature of the card holder have been changed.
History of PAN in India
Earlier, before the concept of PAN was introduced, there was a GIR number assigned to taxpayers which was basically a manual system and as such was unique only within a ward or under a particular assessing officer. However, the number was not unique at the country level. In the year 1972, the concept of PAN was rolled out by the Indian government and was made statutory under section 139A of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
The GIR number was allotted by the Assessing Officer to a tax payer and it included the Assessing Officer’s information as well.
Another problem with the GIR system was that it was not a unique number. A GIR was unique only in that particular ward/circle, resulting in errors or the chances of miscalculations during tax assessment.
The PAN card in its present form was first introduced in 1972, as a way to overcome these problems. Initially a voluntary process, it was made mandatory for all tax paying individuals in the country in 1976.
The initial PAN number allotments were made manually, and to avoid duplication, each ward/circle received a certain set of numbers. This series was abandoned in the year 1995 due to a host of problems associated with it.
In spite of these changes, the first avatar of the PAN card met with some difficulties, as mentioned below:
- There was no database to maintain records of the PAN number allotted, with very limited information being recorded.
- There was no centralised authority who issued the PAN cards, resulting in the possibility that different centres could allot the same number to different individuals in the country.
- The PAN card number was not a permanent one as the number changed depending on the holder’s address.
PAN Card Application
As mentioned in the section above, PAN Card Application can be made either online at the NSDL website or by applying at any of the district level PAN agencies. Applications for new PAN allotment as well as those for correction or change of information can all be made by customers. Form 49A is the form that needs to be filled and submitted for application of new PAN.
Additionally, there are ways to obtain duplicate PAN card in situations where an entity loses or misplaces the PAN card. Indians, foreigners and NRIs all can obtain PAN, although the forms and procedure may vary for each of these entities.
Application forms for new PAN and reprint of PAN are different. Once, a user makes any of the above applications with regards to PAN, he/she can track the status of PAN application via the acknowledgement number furnished by NSDL.
A PAN card can be applied for through the NSDL (National Securities Depository Limited) as well as through the UTIISL (UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services Limited). Applicants can submit their PAN card applications either offline or online.
Online PAN Card Application Process
The online application process for a PAN card is mentioned below:
- Visit the TIN NSDL or UTIISL websites and select the ‘New PAN’ option
- Select Form 49A for Indian citizens (including NRE/NRI/OCI individuals)
- Fill in the details in the online form, mentioning details such as your full name, address, date of birth, gender, telephone number, income details etc.
- On filling the form, submit it and pay the processing fee
- Print the page with the 15 digit acknowledgement and sign in the space provided.
- Affix passport sized photographs on the acknowledgement, proof of identity and proof of address documents and Demand Draft (if you are paying through DD).
- The above are to be sent to the NSDL office by post within 15 days of submitting the online application.
- The PAN will then be sent to the address within 15 working days.
Offline PAN Card Application Process
- Download the PAN card application form from the NSDL or UTIISL websites or collect a copy from UTIISL agents.
- Fill in the form and attach supporting documents (proof of identity, address and photographs)
- Submit the form and documents to the NSDL office along with the processing fee.
- The PAN card will be sent to the address mentioned in the form within 15 working days.
Steps to Procure Duplicate PAN Card if you have Lost Your PAN Card
PAN or Permanent Account Number is an alphanumeric code consisting of ten digits that is provided to citizens by the Income Tax Department of India. This document is an extremely important proof of identity. However, in case someone loses or damages their PAN card, the steps below should be followed in order to procure a duplicate PAN card.
- Applicants must visit the official web portal of NSDL and apply for a ‘PAN Change Request’ form and fill in all the details.
- If applicants wish to procure a new card without changing any details or the PAN number in case they have lost or damaged their original card then after filling all details, they should not select any box on the left of the margin.
- As long as there are no changes to be made in the PAN card, their address will be updated in the database of ITD based on the address provided in the form.
- Once this is done, they will have to submit a document of identity proof such as passport or Aadhar number, a document for address proof such as Voter’s ID or utility bills, along with proof of issuance of PAN number such as a photocopy of the damaged/lost PAN card and submit the form.
- A nominal fee will have to be paid online either through credit card/debit card or net banking after which they will receive an acknowledgement through which they can track the status of their application.
PAN Card Application Do’s and Don’ts
- Remember to fill in all the details as per the identity and address proof documents you are submitting.
- Do get thumb impression attested by a Magistrate/Notary before submitting the form to avoid disqualification.
- Write the complete address and provide accurate contact details in the form.
- Do fill in the application form in capital letters.
- Don’t make corrections or over write anywhere on the form.
- Do not use initials in the first name or last name columns.
- Do not apply for a new PAN card if your old PAN card is lost/stolen/defaced.
Documents required for PAN
Certain basic documents for proof of address and identity proof are required to be furnished by the PAN applicant. NSDL verifies this information with their central database and rejection of PAN applications is not an uncommon thing when information furnished is incorrect or incomplete.
PAN Card Forms
- There are two types of forms for a PAN Card-
- Form 49A- Form 49A is the PAN Card Application form for all Indian citizens, whether they are residents of India or not. NRI (Non Resident Indians) can also apply for a PAN card using this form.
- Companies, firms, NGO (Non-Governmental Organisations), partnership firms, local bodies, trusts etc. also have to submit Form 49A when applying for a PAN card.
- PAN cards for minors and students have to be applied by submitting Form 49A as well.
- Form 49AA- this form is to be submitted by foreign nationals who are pay tax in the country. Limited Liability companies, firms, trusts, Body of Individuals and Association of Persons registered outside India are to submit Form 49AA duly filled in and signed when applying for a PAN card for tax purposes in India. OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) and NRE (Non Resident Entity) individuals will have to apply for a PAN card using this form.
- Entities applying for a PAN card by submitting form 49AA will have to submit their passport/OCI/PIO cards in addition to bank account statements from their resident country as proof of address and identity.
Tracking PAN Applications and Transactions
- The government has recently unveiled a programme by which it can track transactions made through a PAN card for the purpose of calculating tax. Known as the Income Tax Business Application-Permanent Account Number or ITBAN-PAN, it will enable the Income Tax Department to track every transaction made where a particular PAN number was quoted.
- All financial transactions such as mergers, acquisitions, liquidation, and amalgamation of PAN as well as dissolution information where a particular PAN card was quoted can be traced through the software.
- All existing PAN information and the entire database of PAN information has also been moved to this software.
Issuing of PAN Card
PAN issuing authority
Authorized PAN agencies at district level and NSDL (National Securities Depository Limited) are the two issuing authorities that look into PAN applications. Therefore, anyone looking to obtain PAN can either apply physically at any of these district level PAN agencies or apply online at the NSDL website.
- PAN is issued to customers when they submit their PAN applications via filled form 49A. Assessing officers assess the application details using AIS system on computer and after a round of basic verification, the application is sent to the computer centers, where date is entered using the IPAN system and is then transferred to the central data system in Delhi. Since, central data is with National Computer Center, the taxpayer database is checked for information verification. In case, there is no record of PAN allotted to an entity in the past, then the PAN request is accepted and PAN is allotted.
- The above mentioned method is when batch allocation of PAN is done through IPAN. Another way is to allot PAN online through AIS. In this method, customer submits form 49A to the Assessing Officer, who does the data entry and verification and sends it to the National Computer Centre which does PAN allocation and sends it back to the AO who in turn send these details to be printed and passed on to the PAN applicant.
- The process of issuing of PAN works on the PPP model which is Public Private Partnership model. This is so for reasons of economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the PAN issuing model. Income tax department has involved two reputed entities, the NSDL and the UTIITSL (UTI Infrastructure Technology Services Limited) for processing of PAN applications as well as collecting, handling and verifying of personal documents.
Structure of Pan Card
Permanent Account Number is effective because of its uniqueness. It is an interesting thing to learn about the structuring of PAN. There is a lot of hidden information that goes into the making of the Permanent Account Number.
PAN is generated automatically by the online system by taking into account the information furnished by the PAN applicant.
First Three Characters
The first three characters of PAN are a sequence of alphabets from AAA to ZZZ
The fourth character signifies the type of taxpayer that you are.
- A — Association of Persons (AOP)
- B — Body of Individuals (BOI)
- C — Company
- F — Firm
- G — Government
- H — HUF (Hindu Undivided Family)
- L — Local Authority
- J — Artificial Judicial Person
- P — Individual
- T — AOP (Trust)
- K — Krish (Trust krish)
The fifth character in PAN is the first letter of your surname. So, if a person is named ‘Rajesh Khanna’, the fifth character of his PAN will be ‘K’
So if an individual obtains PAN, his/her PAN will have the fourth character as ‘P’ which stands for individual taxpayer.
Types of PAN Cards
The Income tax Department has mandated that all tax paying entities register and possess a PAN card. While this applies to individuals, companies, partnership firms, NGO’s as well as foreign firms also come under the purview of this directive.
As a result, PAN cards are issued for individuals as well as companies.
PAN Card for Individuals
A PAN card for individuals is used to keep track and link all financial transactions that attract tax, with the IT department calculating the total taxable amount due on the basis of this data.
PAN Card for Companies
A PAN card for organisations is similar to that for individuals, with the exception that there is no photograph on the physical PAN card. Also in lieu of the date of birth mentioned on individual PAN cards, the date of registration of the company/organisation is mentioned.
PAN for foreign citizens in India
All foreign citizens who wish to carry out business in India are required to obtain PAN. The procedure for doing so is same as applicable to resident Indians. However, the application form for foreigners is form 49AA . All entities that are eligible to obtain PAN as Indian citizens are also eligible to obtain PAN as foreign citizens. This list includes entities like HUFs, individuals, trusts and so on.
The IT Department calculates the amount of tax the company/organisation is required to pay through its various transactions, all of which now require quoting the PAN card.
Old PAN Series
The first series of PAN was launched in the country, in the year 1972. However, there were certain issues with that series which resulted in the issuing of the current PAN structure than we have.
- A central database was not maintained and hence, there was absolutely no way to verify multiple PAN allocation to a taxpayer
- The data that was stored for PAN holders was neither structured well nor did it capture detailed information except a few primary details like name, address etc.
- PAN was not a permanent number since it depended upon the jurisdiction of the assesse and hence changed when the assesse changed his/her location
New PAN Series
The old method of registering taxpayers which involved the General Index Register Number or the GIR was replaced by Permanent Account Number in the year 1972. However, this was the old series of PAN which still needed some improvements and had drawbacks as listed in the section above. Hence, in the year 1995, under an amended section 139A of the Income Tax Act, the new series of PAN was rolled out by the Income Tax Department.
The new PAN series facilitated the following points which were earlier not included in the old series of PAN –
- Linking of all tax related information, current as well as past, to a single identification number
- Easy retrieval of information from the central database. This is because with the launch of the new PAN series, the segregation and recording of data was done more effectively
- Matching all financial information mapped against a single PAN, so that all loan details, credit and debit details as well as investment details could be tracked to a single customers and thereby reining in tax evasion
Why is PAN important?
A PAN card is a document that no taxpayer can do without. Besides being compulsory in order to file your Income Tax returns and to receive a tax refund, a PAN card also serves an accepted proof of identity and has now been made mandatory for a number of transactions of both a business as well as a personal nature. A comprehensive list of the various activities that require a PAN card to complete or authenticate the activity are mentioned below:
Mandatory uses of PAN
- PAN needs to be quoted while paying direct taxes
- While registering a business, PAN information needs to be mandatorily furnished
- Taxpayers need to input their PAN when paying income tax
- A lot of financial transactions require PAN information. Some of these transactions are:
- Sale or purchase of property (immovable) which is valued at Rs.5 lakh or above
- Sale or purchase of a vehicle except a two-wheeler
- Payments that are made towards hotels and restaurants and which are above Rs.25,000
- Payments made in connection with travel requirements to other countries. The amount in this case if it exceeds Rs.25,000, then an individual needs to quote his/her PAN
- Making payments of more than Rs.50,000 towards bank deposits in a bank
- Acquiring bonds by paying an amount equal to or greater than Rs.50,000
- Payments made for more than Rs.5 lakhs towards purchase of jewellery and bullion also require PAN information of the purchaser to be furnished
- Any purchase of mutual fund schemes
- Any amount greater than Rs,50,000 used towards purchasing shares
- Any payment of more than Rs.50,000 made towards acquiring an insurance policy needs PAN information of the policyholder
- To Remit money out of India
- Pan information is required for transfer of funds from NRE to NRO account
General uses/advantages of PAN
- Since PAN card contains information like Name, Age and photograph, it can be used throughout the country as a valid identity proof
- PAN is the best possible way to keep track of your tax payment. Otherwise, you might be required to pay it multiples times since your tax payment cannot be verified
- Since, PAN is unique for every entity and hence, misuse of the same is almost impossible for purposes of tax evasion etc.
- PAN card can be used as a document that is required to avail connections like electricity, telephone, LPG and internet.
- PAN is a unique identification number assigned to taxpayers and hence it is used to track all financial information like payment of taxes, investments made and debt liability of an entity, to a single customer.
Concepts Similar to PAN Card
The concept of a PAN card, or a unique number assigned to every tax paying entity is not a new concept. In fact, there are a number of similar such utilities that are used for tax purposes.
TAN (Tax Deduction and Collection Account Number) - This is a unique 10 digit number that is issued to individuals and entities who have to collect or deduct tax on payments they made as part of tax Deducted at Source (TDS) under the Income Tax Act.
The TAN has to be quoted when applying for TDS or Tax Collected at Source (TCS) challans made to disburse the refund as well as on certificates. Failure to quote the TAN would result in a fine of Rs. 10, 000.
TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) - A TIN number is a unique 11 digit number that is used to identify dealers who are registered under the Value Added Tax. Allotted by individual states, it is compulsory for all manufacturers, traders and dealers to register for a TIN number. This number is to be quoted when generating invoices, orders or quotations by both the issuing as well as the receiving company.
It is also used to identify assesses under the Income tax Act of 1961.
Who is allotted a Permanent Account Number?
PAN is allotted to people who fall under any of the following categories.
Under section 139A of the Income Tax Act, following are the taxpaying entities that are required to have a Permanent Account Number:
- Any person who has paid tax or is liable to pay tax to the Income Tax Department
- Any person who is carrying out a business or professional practice which earns him an yearly turnover of Rs,5,00,000 or more in the previous year of assessment
- All kinds of trusts in the country
- Importers and exporters who are liable to pay any form of tax or duty charges as per the Income Tax Act or as per any other law, currently in force
PAN is supposed to be applied for by all tax paying entities including individuals, HUFs, partnerships, companies, body of individuals, trusts etc. Also, PAN is furnished by the Income Tax Department for other similar entities like minors, judicial persons, firms, Krish etc. Also.
At the time of allotment of PAN to an entity, PAN card too is furnished by the Income Tax Department. While PAN is a unique identification number, PAN card is a physical card that has your PAN details as well as name, age and photograph. Copies of this card are submitted by entities for various transactions when required.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a PAN Card?
If your income falls into a taxable bracket, not having a PAN card would result in:
You paying a flat 30% tax on your earnings and wealth, as stipulated by the Income Tax Department of India. This rule applies to individuals, companies and all entities eligible for tax, including foreign nationals and firms registered outside India.
Not having a PAN card will mean you will be unable to purchase a motor vehicle, buy immovable property worth over Rs. 10 lakh, and open an account with any bank in the country among other activities.
Businesses too will be charged TDS at a flat 30% and will be unable to conduct a large chunk of their activities since quoting PAN has now become mandatory for everything from purchasing land in India to rendering any sort of professional services in the country.
PAN Card FAQs
- How do I apply for a PAN Card?
You can submit an application for PAN Card either online at the NSDL website, https://tin.tin.nsdl.com/pan/ or through any of the NSDL PAN Centres/TIN Facilitation Centres. You will be required to fill up the PAN application form ‘Application for Allotment of Permanent Account Number’.
Form 49A pertains to Indian citizens and Form 49AA is for foreign nationals.
- Where do I get the PAN application form?
The PAN application form is available at any NSDL TIN Facilitation Centre (TIN-FC) or PAN Centre. Certain stationary vendors also provide the form to applicants. Alternatively, you can download the form from the NSDL-TIN website at the page, https://www.tin-nsdl.com/downloads/pan/downloads-pan.html
- To procure a PAN Card, can I write an application on plain paper?
No, it is not possible to apply for PAN Card through a handwritten application. The application is only accepted in the format notified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes. The forms pertaining to the same are:
- For Indian citizens, Form 49A
- For foreign citizens, Form 49AA
- Are there any charges that I would have to pay for the PAN Card application form?
No, the form is available free of any charges.
- Where should the PAN Card application form be submitted?
The PAN Card application form, once duly filled in and self-attested, can be submitted along with all relevant documents to any one of the PAN Centres or TIN-FCs that are managed by NSDL e-Gov.
If you have submitted a PAN Card application online, you should take a printout of the application form, sign it and affix a recent photograph. Then you should send this form along with supporting documentation to the address below:
Income Tax PAN Services Unit
(Managed by NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited)
5th Floor, Mantri Sterling, Plot No. 341,
Survey No. 997/8, Model Colony,
Near Deep Bungalow Chowk,
Pune - 411 016
- Will I get an acknowledgement when I submit my PAN application form at a TIN-FC?
Yes, you will receive an acknowledgement that contains a unique 15-digit number.
- When I submit Form 49A for PAN Card, what are the charges that I have to bear?
If your address is within India, then the PAN Card processing fee is Rs.110, i.e., Rs.93 (application fee) + 18% GST.
If your address is outside India, the PAN Card processing fee is Rs.1,020, i.e., Rs.93 (application fee) + Rs.771 (dispatch charges) + 18% GST.
- How should I update the PAN application form?
The application form for PAN Card should be updated legibly in English. You should use capital letters and black ink (preferably) to update details. Make sure that you read all instructions carefully before filling up the form.
- Is it necessary to include father’s name in the application form for a female who is married/widow/divorced?
All female applicants should include only their father’s name in the PAN application form, irrespective of their marital status. The form does not need to be updated with the husband’s name.
- What are the documents that I should submit along with my PAN Card application form?
You will have to submit the documents mentioned below along with your PAN application:
- Proof of address (POA)
- Proof of identity (POI)
- Proof of date of birth (PODB). This is relevant only for individual and HUF applicants.
- Is it necessary to furnish 2 photos for the application?
Yes, if you are an ‘Individual’ applicant, you should affix 2 recent colour photos with white background in the form. The size of the photos should be 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm. The photographs should not be clipped or stapled to the form. The applicant is required to sign across the photograph such that a part of the sign is on the photo and the rest is on the form. The image clarity on the PAN Card will depend on the clarity and quality of the photograph that you affix on the application form.
- Should I mention my email ID or telephone number on the form?
It is mandated for all applicants to provide either their email ID or telephone number in the PAN application form, so that they can be contacted in the event of a discrepancy. It is also useful when the applicant receives the PAN through email.
- If the landline number of the applicant is provided, the country code and STD code should be mentioned. If the mobile number is given, the country code should be stated.
- If the email ID of the applicant is furnished, the PAN will be sent to him/her through email.
- How do I check the status of my PAN Card application?
- To check the status of your PAN application, you can visit the NSDL-TIN website and click on the “Status track” menu option. Provide your unique 15-digit acknowledgement number to get the status. You can only check the status after 3 days from the date of application.
- You can also get the application status through SMS using your mobile phone. You have to type "NSDLPAN" followed by the 15-digit acknowledgement number. This message should be sent to 57575 to receive the application status in an SMS.
- Another way in which you can check your application status is through Interactive Voice Response (IVR). For this, you can contact the call centre of the tax information network of the Income Tax Department at the number, 020-27218080.
- What is the application process for individuals who are unable to sign?
In such a scenario, the left hand thumb impression of the applicant can be provided at the place meant for the signature in the PAN application form. This should further be attested by a Notary Public, a Gazetted officer, or a Magistrate with an official stamp and seal.
- How can I change the photograph on my PAN Card?
If the photo on your PAN Card is unclear, then you can get the PAN Card replaced with a photograph of better quality and clarity. This facility is available as part of “Correction of PAN Card” requests. This request is similar to that for name change and change in date of birth. You can visit the website, https://tin.tin.nsdl.com/pan/ and fill up an application form, i.e., ‘PAN card change request form’. The relevant documents should be sent to the address mentioned in the form.