A PAN or Permanent Account Number is a card meant to identify the taxpayers in the country. PAN is a unique 10 digit alphanumeric code which means every tax payer has a distinct identity for the purpose of identification in taxation. The PAN issuer (basically government of India) allots a unique logical computer based number/ code to the citizens/ entities for this purpose, which essentially means no two entities can have same PAN number.
PAN acts as the store hub of various tax as well as transaction related information which can be retrieved anytime by IT department and government. PAN is unaffected by any change in the address of the card holder because PAN is issued with a life time validity of the PAN card holder and address of people can change frequently.
The idea of PAN card in India has been taken from SSN (Social Security Number) used in United States of America. SSN is a unique nine digit number which is issued to every citizen residing in USA. However SSN was introduced with a primary motto of tracking individuals for security purposes but now it has became an essential document for tax processing.
Effective from Jan 1, 2017, the IT department of India has introduced a new format of PAN card. The changes are as follows:
One basically needs only two things i.e. an identity proof and an address proof for applying for a new PAN. In case the information/ documents furnished to the NSDL (PAN issuer) are found incorrect or incomplete, the organization reserves right to reject the application on such grounds which are not uncommon.