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PAN form fee turning `a bee in the bonnet' for tax consultants

Mohan Padmanabhan

Kolkata , July 12

THE Income-Tax Department may have got a good thing going by signing up with UTI-ISL for issue of attractive tamper-proof PAN cards with a whole lot of built-in security features.

UTI-ISL has also become busy, distributing the four-page PAN forms, after pocketing a cool Rs 5, and receiving Rs 60 on submission of the completed forms.

However, it seems that the department may have unwittingly put a bee in the bonnet of most tax consultants by dispensing PAN forms across the counter for a fee through designated I-T PAN Service Centres, and laying down a few unpopular dos and don'ts. The stipulation of one form for one individual and summary rejection of forms re-printed or photocopied from the original has invited a lot of flak from the practising tax consultants.

Senior I-T consultants, with an impressive list of top bracket clients, now find that their representatives who are sent to collect these PAN forms cannot get more than one form at a time, and that too after queuing up for a lengthy period of time.

Says Mr Narayan Jain, tax lawyer and author: "It is highly improper on the part of the department to sell these forms for a fee of Rs 5, when all the other I-T forms now in force (said to number over 100) are dished out by the department virtually free of cost (for a nominal 50 paisa or Re 1) in the market and through various vending outlets, like stationery or book stores.''

He feels that charging of a fee for an essential PAN form will certainly not paint a pretty picture of the department, which already has an image problem, and was now aiming at a high level of tax compliance through assessee-friendly measures. "If consultants like us cannot get the basic form freely, how can any speedy compliance be possible," he points out. This process will cause not only inconvenience but also delay in submission of the completed forms, he maintains.

His suggestion is that PAN forms should be sold in the market as normal stationary, from book stores or wherever, and there should not be any restriction on the number of forms sought, as long as the two mandatory elements of proof of identity and address (of the procurer) are supplied. He also suggested that the almost similar looking earlier forms now lying unused with the department should also be utilised, as only proof of identity and address were the only two changes in the new Form 49A.

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