In the US, the Social Security card is of paramount importance as it helps to identify each resident taxpayer. Its Indian equivalent is the PAN card.
What is PAN?
Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a 10-digit alphanumeric code that is issued to taxpayers in the form of a laminated card. A PAN can be represented thus: ABPKSD4559.
Why is a PAN necessary?
A PAN is necessary at the time of filing your income tax returns. Similarly when corresponding with, or filing challans to make payments to, the income tax department, it is essential to quote your PAN. So if you earn any income in India, it is essential to get your PAN immediately.
Besides, if you want to invest in financial instruments like mutual funds, a demat account or shares in India you must have a PAN card. You cannot open a bank account in the country without a PAN card. To purchase or sell immovable property or a vehicle, a PAN card is mandatory. Hotel bills or cash payments exceeding $625 while traveling overseas require you to state your PAN. You can get a telephone or mobile connection only after submitting the proof of your PAN. Depositing cash in the bank or getting a DD for an amount over $500 can be done only after submitting your PAN details. Evidently a PAN card is a very important document.
I have lost my PAN card. What do I do now?
It is very important to take care of your PAN, since carrying out any financial transaction without it is virtually impossible. But given its small size and the fact that you would often need to carry it around with you, chances are you could lose your PAN card inadvertently.
In case you have misplaced your PAN card, it is not a cause for alarm. This is what you can do to remedy the situation:
* Lodge an FIR at the nearest police station as soon as you realize your PAN card is missing. Have someone in India do this for you if you are outside the country and not traveling to India in the near future.
* Write a letter to the income tax department informing them that you have misplaced your PAN card and requesting them to send you a duplicate card. Attach a copy of the police FIR with your letter.
* Apply for your PAN card again, and attach a copy of the FIR along with the other relevant documents.
“Prevention is better than cure” is definitely true in the case of a PAN card or any other government-issued document. As far as possible, keep your PAN card in a safe place. Use photocopies of your PAN card whenever possible.