Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a ten-digit alphanumeric number, issued in the form of a laminated card, by the Income Tax Department, to any "person" who applies for it or to whom the department allots the number without an application. PAN enables the department to link all transactions of the "person" with the department. These transactions include tax payments, TDS/TCS credits, returns of income/wealth/gift /FBT, specified transactions, correspondence, and so on. PAN, thus, acts as an identifier for the "person" with the tax department.
PAN was introduced to facilitates linking of various documents, including payment of taxes, assessment, tax demand, tax arrears etc. relating to an assessee, to facilitate easy retrieval of information and to facilitate matching of information relating to investment, raising of loans and other business activities of taxpayers collected through various sources, both internal as well as external, for detecting and combating tax evasion and widening of tax base.
A typical PAN is AFZPK7190K. First three characters i.e. "AFZ" in the above PAN are alphabetic series running from AAA to ZZZ Fourth character of PAN i.e. "P" in the above PAN represents the status of the PAN holder. "P" stands for Individual, "F" stands for Firm, "C" stands for Company, "H" stands for HUF, "A" stands for AOP, "T" stands for TRUST etc. Fifth character i.e. "K" in the above PAN represents first character of the PAN holder's last name/surname. Next four characters i.e. "7190" in the above PAN are sequential number running from 0001 to 9999. Last character i.e. "K" in the above PAN is an alphabetic check digit.
It is mandatory to quote PAN on return of income, all correspondence with any income tax authority. From 1 January 2005 it will be mandatory to quote PAN on challans for any payment s due to Income Tax Department.