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Fresh Central Board of Direct Taxes notification provides a new tick box for transgenders to apply for Permanent Account Number needed for filing tax returns

The Centre has amended Income Tax rules that will now allow transgenders to be recognised as an independent gender category while obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN) for their tax-related transactions.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which frames policy guidelines for the income tax department, issued a fresh notification, on Monday (April 9), which provides a new tick box for the transgenders community to apply for the PAN.

According to news agency PTI, the notification, issued under sections 139A and 295 of the Income Tax Act, specifies the new application process for obtaining a PAN number by an individual. The amendment will now be reflected in Form 49A (PAN application form for Indian citizens) and 49AA (PAN application form for those who aren’t Indian citizens).

Under the existing rules for PAN, only male and female gender categories were recognised in the application forms. Curiously, Aadhaar – which the government has been insisting must be linked with PAN by all citizens – recognised transgenders as a “third gender” category even though PAN did not.

It may be recalled that the union finance ministry, the CBDT and several other wings of the union government had been approached by members of the transgender community seeking recognition as a separate gender category in various government-issued identity documents, including PAN. PTI quoted a senior CBDT official as saying that the new notification amending the PAN application form was brought out in view of these representations.

“Individuals from the transgender community were facing hassles in obtaining a PAN card and this problem was further magnified as Aadhaar had the third gender category but not PAN. Hence, they were not able to link their PAN with their Aadhaar due to this anomaly,” the official was quoted by PTI.

PAN is a 10-digit unique alphanumeric number allotted by the I-T department to individuals and entities. The government has made quoting of Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs) as well as obtaining a new PAN, though the decision has been challenged in the Supreme Court and is still awaiting judicial resolution.

Section 139 AA (2) of the Income Tax Act says that every person having PAN as on July 1, 2017, and eligible to obtain Aadhaar, must intimate his Aadhaar number to the tax authorities.

As per updated data till March 5, over 16.65 crore PANs, out of the total about 33 crore, have been linked with Aadhaar. The deadline to link these two has been extended recently till June 30 by the CBDT in wake of the ongoing legal battle in the Supreme Court that challenges the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with a slew of services.

 —With PTI inputs

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