27 Jul 2017 13:30 IST

Even at 11th-hour, Aadhaar-PAN link is tripping up taxpayers

With July 31 deadline imminent, fixing name mismatches is proving arduous

For many, filing income-tax returns is a fairly taxing chore. Most often, it comes with the shock of realising that your auditor wants bills and documents that you have either thrown away or misplaced.

As the July 31 deadline for filing returns nears, many taxpayers are scrambling to prove background documents and information demanded of them.

Despite proclamations by the government that the tax-filing process has been simplified, this time around there is an extra hurdle to clear.

Many individual assessees are finding it difficult to link their Permanent Account Number (PAN) with their Aadhaar number, which is a new requirement of the I-T department.

There are many reasons for this. Krithika, a private firm executive, said, “My father’s name on the PAN card does not match the name on the Aadhaar card; the latter lists his name with his initials, while the former has the initial expanded. He passed away recently and we have surrendered his phone. When I contacted the income-tax office, they had no clue as to how to deal with the issue.”

Treating this as a one-off case, the tax authorities asked her to write to the office in Chennai. “But time is running out,” she says.

That, however, is not the end of her worries. “In my mother’s case, while the Aadhaar and PAN have been linked, the system asks for her Aadhaar enrolment number. She suffers from dementia and is bed-ridden,” says Krithika. “I am unable to file both their tax returns.”

Coimbatore-based auditor and founder of GKM Tax Advisors G Karthikeyan said he too faced a similar problem and was unable to link his PAN and his Aadhaar.

“Naming conventions differ across regions,” he pointed out. “In some places, people have surnames, but in the South, we prefix names with initials. When this is expanded in one identity card and left as such on the other, there is a mismatch.”

Until recently, he said, “most of us did not bother about these issues; after all, we do have both Aadhaar and PAN cards. I got mine and my parents’ cards regularised last week. There is a huge rush to get this sorted out.”

Matters get complicated if there has been a change in mobile phone numbers, as the one-time password to effect any name change would be sent to the registered mobile.

An employee in a software company said he was fed up with the whole system as he had to wait in queue to get the details regularised.

Karthikeyan acknowledged that linking PAN and Aadhaar was a good move, but wondered why the process was being hurried through. “In India, PAN has served to establish a person’s identity for years, and there is a verified database. The government should either go with it or consider giving more time, say three months, to enable genuine filers to comply with the law,” he reasoned.