Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a code that acts as identification for Indian nationals, especially those who pay Income Tax. It is a unique, 10-character alpha-numeric identifier, issued to all judicial entities identifiable under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961.
Quoting the PAN is mandatory when filing Income Tax returns, tax deduction at source, or any other communication with Income Tax Department. PAN is also steadily becoming a mandatory document for opening a new bank account, a new landline telephone connection / a mobile phone connection, purchase of foreign currency, bank deposits above INR 50,000 purchase and sale of immovable properties, vehicles etc.
The PAN is mandatory for a majority of financial transactions such as opening a bank account, receiving taxable salary or professional fees, sale or purchase of assets above specified limits etc.; especially high-value transactions.
The primary purpose of the PAN is to bring a universal identification to all financial transactions and to prevent tax evasion by keeping track of monetary transactions, especially those of high-net-worth individuals who can impact the economy.
The PAN is unique to each individual and is valid for the lifetime of the holder, throughout India. An important point to note would be that once issued, the PAN is not affected by a change of address.