What are AO codes?
When someone applies for a new PAN card, there is one part of the application that asks them to enter an AO code. The abbreviation AO stands for Assessing Officer and is meant to identify the jurisdiction that the applicant will fall under. It is asked for right at the top of the form and consists of various elements. The importance of an AO code and determining the jurisdiction can be linked directly to the taxation since these codes tell the appropriate authorities what tax laws apply to a person. If the person is a resident of this country then they might have to pay taxes as per specific rules but if they happen to be a company then the tax slabs and rules may be different. Such differences can even exist between citizens too since the AO code for those serving in the Army or the Air Force will be different. Thus, to ensure that individuals and companies are taxed according to the appropriate rules, an AO code is essential.
Elements of an AO code
There are officers assigned to each area to assess the taxation of the people in that areas. It is these officers who are identified by AO codes. A look at the table for the AO code, on form 49A, will show that it is formed through the combination of multiple elements. There are 4 elements that make up an AO code. They are:
- Area Code: For the purpose of identifying the geographic location of the individual or company, their area is assigned a code which is represented using 3 letters.
- AO Type: The type helps the tax department identify the type of PAN card holder as an individual or company or even a service personnel or a person who is not a resident of India.
- Range Type: Based on the actual address of the PAN card hold, they are assigned a Range Type which helps identify the ward or circle that they live in.
- AO Number: The AO number is a numerical value that is also published by NSDL and is the last part of the AO code
AO Code selection criteria
There are certain criteria that needs to be met before you can select the right AO code. This criteria is separated into the following two categories which determines how the AO code is to be selected.
- Individual: If the person applying for a PAN card is an individual who has a source of income that comes from a salary or from a business then their AO code will be based on the office address while every other individual will use their residential address to find an AO code.
- Non-individuals: Non-individuals refers to companies, trusts, HUFs, LLPs, government bodies, etc. For all such cases, the organisation will use its office address to determine their AO code.
Types of AO codes
There are four main types of AO codes and they are meant to identify the individual/company and the associate them with the appropriate tax laws. To help identify the correct code the NSDL has published a list of the AO codes separated into the following four sheets. These sheets can be downloaded from the NSDL website.
- International Taxation: Should the person applying for a PAN card not be a resident of India or the company applying for it, not be incorporated in India, their AO code will be a part of this list.
- Non International Taxation (Outside Mumbai): These are the AO codes meant for people and companies that are residing in or registered in Mumbai.
- Non International Taxation (Mumbai): This is a list of AO codes that apply to individuals/companies that are based in India and are outside Mumbai.
- Defence personnel: These AO codes are meant to identify an individual as a member of the Indian Army or the Air Force. It has only two types of codes, one meant for the Army and the other meant for the Air Force.
Know your Pan Card AO code
The AO code for you will be determined based on your address and the section criteria. This means that the steps you need to follow to get the AO code are:
- Identify if you qualify as a salaried individual, non-salaried individual or a non-individual applicant.
- Select the residential/office address based on the criteria you meet.
- Download the appropriate list of AO codes from the NSDL website.
- Open the file using Excel and use the search function (ctrl+f) to search for your city.
- Once the city is found, check the “Additional Description” field to see if your area is included in that code.
- Check to see if the code applies to you in terms of you being an international entity, individual or a company.
- Once you have found the right codes, make a note of the Area Code, AO Type, Range Type and the AO Number and you shall have your AO Code.
Check Your AO Code / Know Your Ward Number for Pan Card
Follow below mentioned steps to check your AO Code
Step 1: Visit and login following site https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in
Click on Profile Settings and click on My profile as shown below.
Step 2: Click on Pan Card it will display all the details of Pan along with which display the details of Area Code, AO Type, Range Code, AO No, Jurisdiction etc as shown below.
It would be prudent to double check the code for any inadvertent mistakes so that the incorrect information is not sent to the PAN issuing authorities.