Circumventing the Aadhaar-PAN linkage as made mandatory by the government for filing income tax returns, a large proportion of taxpayers filed their returns manually, via snail mail, rather than getting an Aadhaar card. Several others filed their returns online early, before June 30, when the Aadhaar linkage was not compulsory, says a Times of India report.
The I-T department’s e-filing portal does not accept returns without an Aadhaar or an Aadhaar application number. In some instances, even an application number is rejected, which according to I-T officials would be due to an error by the tax filer or a temporary technical glitch.
Owing to this, those without an Aadhaar or application number are stuck in a paradoxical situation, as taxpayers with an income of above Rs 5 lakh have to mandatorily file their I-T returns online.
A Bengaluru-based consultant said she and her husband, along with several others refused to get the Aadhaar card and filed their returns in early June.
“Aadhaar started off as something optional and we kept reading about data getting stolen. So a lot of us were concerned about giving our biometrics to the private operators given the potential for identity theft,” she was quoted by Times of India as saying.
She also told about the messages she has been receiving from her bank threatening to freeze her accounts if she does not link them to Aadhaar, despite the fact that this has not yet been mandated.
Similarly, Chennai-based environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman, who is filing manual returns, said he has a problem with Aadhaar as he simply doesn’t trust the government. “I do not like the fact that it is bullying people into taking an Aadhaar for everything. If it wants to link Aadhaar with anything, it has to be with voter ID,” he said.
Under the I-T Act’s Section 139AA, it is mandatory to quote the Aadhaar number or the Aadhaar application number for I-T returns filed on after July 1, this year. On June 9, the Supreme Court bench upheld this section. As an interim relief, pending hearing of the privacy issues relating to Aadhaar by a constitutional bench, the SC clarified that for those taxpayers who do not have an Aadhaar, their PAN will not be cancelled for the time being. The tax laws had also provided for cancellation of PAN in the absence of intimation of Aadhaar or its application number.
“The SC's order does not give any leeway to taxpayers for filing of I-T returns without Aadhaar or an enrollment number, post July 1. If they don't have an Aadhaar, taxpayers should at least obtain an Aadhaar enrolment number,” said a senior I-T official.