Obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN) for Indians living abroad, a foreign citizen, or a company, trust or firm not having an office in India has become easier.

The income tax department has from this week clarified that it will no longer insist on details of a “representative assessee” while accepting PAN applications from the aforementioned categories.

The tax department has issued a circular to the two designated PAN service providers — UTI Technology Services Ltd and National Securities Depositories Ltd — clarifying on the revised guidelines for allotment of PAN to these categories.

“There has been a demand to relax the requirement to submit details of the representative assessee for cases where the person does not have to either pay income tax or file tax returns. The department has now clarified that details of representative assessees will not be necessary in such cases. Individuals will only have to provide details of their passport, while the registration certificate attested by the Indian embassy in the country of the applicant’s origin will be required in case of companies, trusts or firms,” a finance ministry official said.

The clarification has been issued since quoting of PAN is now compulsory if one has to pay tax deducted at source (TDS), undertake any of the seven transactions like cash deposit exceeding Rs 10 lakh, credit card payment exceeding Rs 2 lakh, and RBI bonds exceeding Rs 5 lakh which are included under Annual Information Returns, or operate a demat account in India.

Prior to April 2005, non-resident Indians were exempted from the requirement of quoting PAN in case of TDS under clause 3 of Section 139A.

However, this exemption was later withdrawn, because of which any NRI liable to TDS has to compulsorily obtain a PAN.

Officials said the two PAN issuing agencies had also been told to levy courier charges for PAN cards which had to be delivered abroad.

The charges would be in addition to the PAN application fee of Rs 60 and the applicable service tax.

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