The government decided on Tuesday to lower the legal limit on cash transactions from Rs3 lakh to Rs2 lakh, and make Aadhaar number mandatory for filing income tax returns or applying for a PAN card.
The decisions were part of amendments moved to the finance bill, which puts into effect the Budget proposals.
The Budget 2017 had proposed cash transactions of more than Rs3 lakh value be banned, but the finance bill tabled on Tuesday lowers the ceiling, said revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia.
''The difference between demonetisation and this is that the former is used to destroy the stock of black money while the ban will prevent the future flow of black money. This limit will also reduce the quantum of cash transactions in the economy,'' Adhia had told Hindustan Times.
To ensure a deterrent, the penalty for violation is equivalent to the amount transacted.
The amendments also make Aadhaar a must for tax returns and PAN applications beginning 1 July. Aadhaar enrolment number while filing ITR could also be accepted. Failing to declare Aadhaar may lead to PAN being deemed invalid.
The move is likely to roil activists who say the Aadhaar programme – the enrolment to a national database with biometric information such as fingerprints and iris scans – is meant to be voluntary, as declared by the SC in September last year.
''Aadhaar has been optional for ITR for a few years. The challenge will be for foreign nationals who pay taxes in India. We will have to see the amendment to understand its implications,'' said Kuldip Kumar, leader, personal tax at PwC India, told HT. The amendment, however, says the government will specify exemptions for mandatory Aadhaar rule.
The finance bill carries an unprecedented 40 amendments, according to PTI, and will also impact other laws such as the RBI Act and Representation of the People Act. Political parties hit out at the tweaks, saying they were being done as 'backdoor entry'.
The finance bill is classified as a money bill, which does not require bicameral approval of the upper house and can be approved by the Lok Sabha alone where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party has a majority.
The limit on cash transactions is in keeping with recommendations of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money.
In addition to this limit, the Income Tax Act prohibits making or accepting payment of an advance of Rs20,000 or more in cash for purchase of immovable property. PAN is also mandatory for any purchase of above Rs1 lakh.