- Transgender applicants in India can now obtain Permanent Account Number (PAN) as an independent category.
- Previously, there were only two gender categories available, male and female.
- An official was quoted in an interview that the amendments to current tax policies were meant to widen representation.
The Indian government has launched a new category specific for tax-payers who identify as transgender according to the transgender news article by The Quint posted on April 12.
It has announced that it made significant reforms to existing income tax rules to include recognition of transgender people.
Specifically, transgender applicants can now obtain Permanent Account Number (PAN) as an independent category.
On April 9, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued an announcement that it had made strides in updating the application process under sections 139A and 295 of the Income Tax Act with the inclusion of a new tick box for transgender people who would wish to apply for PAN.
Previously, there were only two gender categories available, male and female.
An official was quoted in an interview that the amendments to current tax policies were meant to widen representation.
“Individuals from the transgender community were facing hassles in obtaining a PAN card and this problem was further magnified as Aadhaar had the third gender category but not PAN,” the official explained. “Hence, they were not able to link their PAN with their Aadhaar due to this anomaly.”
The reforms will be reflected in Form 49A (PAN application for Indian citizens) and 49AA (PAN application form for individuals who are not citizens of the country).
PAN is a unique ten-alphanumeric identification number provided by the Income Tax Department under the supervision of the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
As a proof of universal identification, it is considered mandatory for the purposes of conducting and tracking financial transactions that might have taxable component such as receiving income or professional fees, selling or acquiring assets, purchasing financial products such as mutual funds, and more.
Transgender Indians welcomed the news according to additional details from the Hindustan Times website.
“This will go a long way in easing matters for us. I can finally own a PAN card in my chosen gender,” Dr. Sameera Jahagirdar, a transgender woman, said. Currently, her PAN cards still indicates her as male.
Earlier reports by the media disclosed that while the country’s highest court had issued the landmark National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa) versus Union of India judgement that made sweeping social and legal changes for the equality of the transgender community, some branches of the government had yet to adopt.
For instance, it was previously difficult for transgender individuals to open bank accounts, transfer funds, or register companies due to the mismatch of their gender and the gender marker found on their PAN cards.
However, it remains unclear on how the government will allow existing PAN card-holders to change their gender.
“We need a uniform guideline in place for changing name and gender. Transpersons are harassed by people at these centres, who either reject such applications outright, or ask for documents like medical certificates, which go against the spirit of ‘Nalsa’,” Neel Ghosh, a transgender man who successfully updated his PAN card to male, explained.