The Public Provident Fund (PPF) scheme is a very popular long-term savings scheme in India because of its combination of tax savings, returns, and safety. The PPF scheme was launched in 1968 by the Finance Ministry’s National Savings Institute. The main objective of the scheme is to help individuals make small savings and provide returns on the savings. The PPF scheme offers an attractive rate of interest and no tax is required to be paid on the returns that are generated from the interest rates.
|15 years (Can be renewed in blocks of 5 years)
|Minimum Rs.500, Maximum Rs.1.5 lakh p.a.
|Depends on the investment tenure
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PPF scheme was launched in 1968 by the Finance Ministry’s National Savings Institute. The main objective of PPF scheme is to help individuals make small savings and provide returns on the savings. The PPF scheme offers an attractive rate of interest and no tax is required to be paid on the returns that are generated from the interest rates.
Eligibility to open a PPF account
You can invest in the PPF if you meet these criteria:
- You are a citizen of Indian
- You can open only one PPF account unless your second PPF account is in the name of a minor.
You cannot invest in PPF is you are an NRI or HUF.
How to open a PPF account?
Public Provident Fund
Individuals can open a PPF account at banks or at post offices. Earlier, opening a PPF account was allowed only at Nationalised Banks, however, private banks such as Axis, HDFC, and ICICI Bank also offer the PPF scheme. The documents required to open a PPF account is mentioned below:
- The application form must be submitted.
- ID proof such as Aadhaar card, Permanent Account Number (PAN) card, passport, etc., must be submitted.
- Address proof with the current address mentioned on it should be submitted.
- Signature proof.
After submission of the above documents, the amount that is required to open a PPF account can be deposited.
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How do you Close a Public Provident Fund
- The rules governing Public Provident Fund accounts say that you cannot withdraw the Public Provident Fund account balance after your Public Provident Fund account finishes its tenure (15 years).
- Once the completion of your 15-year term, you can get access to the Public Provident Fund account balance, and also withdraw it.
- Any time before the completion of the full tenure of the account, you cannot withdraw the entire Public Provident Fund account.
- The premature withdrawal of your Public Provident Fund up to 50% of the account balance is allowed once you complete 5 years of the Public Provident Fund.
Features of a PPF account
The main features of the PPF account are mentioned below:
- Investment Limits:
For a PPF, you should have a minimum investment of Rs.500 and your maximum investment is Rs.1.5 lakh for every financial year.
- Tenure of the PPF:
The minimum tenure of a PPF is 15 years. This can be extended in sets of 5 years.
- Deposit Frequency:
Your deposits into the PPF account have to be made once every year for a tenure of 15 years.
- Opening Balance:
You can open a PPF account with Rs.100 and annual investments over Rs.1.5 lakh will not earn any interest.
As a PPF account holder, you can have a nominee for your account when you open the account or after.
- Mode of deposit:
You can make a deposit into the PPF account via cheque, cash, demand draft, or online fund transfer.
- Risk factor:
The PPF is backed by the Indian government, and so, it is risk-free and offers guaranteed returns.
- Joint accounts:
You can hold a PPF account in only one individual’s name.
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PPF Interest Rate
Currently, PPF interest rate has been reduced from 7.9% to 7.1% and it is compounded on an annual basis. The interest is paid on March 31 and the PPF interest rate is set by the Finance Ministry on a yearly basis. The calculation of interest is based on the minimum balance that is available between the close of the fifth day and the last day of the month.
Tax Benefits you get When you Invest in Public Provident Fund
- Public Provident Fund is an investment which comes under the Exempt-Exempt-Exempt (EEE) category.
- This means that the deposits that you make in the Public Provident Fund will be deductible (Section 80C of the Income Tax Act).
- The amount that you accumulate and the interest will be exempt from tax when you withdraw the money.
- You should note that you cannot close a Public Provident Fund account before maturity.
- You cannot close a Public Provident Fund account prematurely.
Investments that are made under a PPF account come under the Exempt-Exempt-Exempt (EEE) category. Therefore, under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, all deposits made towards a PPF account are tax exempt. The amount that has been saved as well as the interest that has been generated are also exempt from tax when the individual withdraws the amount from the PPF account.
Premature closure of a PPF
After completion of 5 years is it possible for individuals to opt for premature closure. However, premature closure is allowed in case of treat diseases that can cause harm to the life to the life of the PPF account holder, parents, children, or spouse. For which, documents from an accomplished medical authority must be submitted.
Premature closure is allowed in case of higher studies of the minor account holder or for the account holder as well. However, documents such as fee bill and the admission confirmation from a recognised university in India or abroad must be submitted.
Attachment of a PPF account
Debtors will not be able to access the PPF account of the individual to claim their dues as the PPF account cannot be attached by a court. However, this rule does not apply to income tax authorities. Therefore, if the account holder has any dues pending, the PPF account can be attached for the payment of dues.
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How to Withdrawal Funds from Your Public Provident Fund
Follow these steps to withdraw money from your Public Provident Fund account:
- Step 1: You should fill in an application form with Form C and enter the required information.
- Step 2: Then, submit the application to the required bank branch where the PPF account is.
How to link Aadhaar with a Public Provident Fund account online?
Step 1: Log into the internet banking account.
Step 2: Select ‘Registration of Aadhaar Number in Internet Banking’
Step 3: Type in the 12-digit Aadhaar number and click ‘Confirm’.
Step 4: Choose the Public Provident Fund account you want to link with your Aadhaar card
Step 5: Click on ‘Inquiry’ to check if the Aadhaar linking is done.
How do you Withdraw Funds from Your Public Provident Fund Account Before Maturity?
Step 1: First, make sure to check if you are eligible for a premature withdrawal of your Public Provident Fund.
Step 2: If you are, then download Form C.
Step 3: If your account is in the name of a minor, you need to provide one more declaration which states that the money withdrawn is for the minor and that he/she is alive.
Step 4: Submit the form and documents to the bank or a post office branch.
Step 5: If the information and documents are verified, the bank or post office will process the forms and you can withdraw the money.
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FAQ’s on PPF
Can I increase my investment under the PPF scheme by opening 2 or more accounts in my name?
No. Under the Public Provident Fund Scheme, a person can hold and operate only one account in his/her name.
Can I continue to use an inactive account?
Yes. You can do so by paying the holding branch a penalty of Rs.50 for every year the account was inactive. You will also have to deposit a minimum of Rs.500 for every year the account was inactive as well as Rs.500 for the year you are activating the account.
Will I continue to earn returns if my account is inactive?
No. Interest will not be calculated for the year(s) the account is inactive. Once the account is revived, interest will be calculated on the balance held at time of revival.
If I open a PPF account in my minor child’s name, can I claim tax deductions from both accounts i.e. my child’s and mine, when I file taxes?
The maximum investment cap of Rs.1.5 lakhs applies to all contributions you make to your account, your minor child’s account and/or your spouse’s account, collectively. Only amounts up to Rs.1.5 lakhs can be claimed as deduction U/S 80C of the Income Tax Act. For e.g. if you contribute Rs.1 lakh toward your account and Rs.1 lakh toward your child’s account, you can claim only Rs.1.5 lakhs as deduction and not Rs.2 lakhs.
What if I wish to invest more money than the Rs.1.5 lakh limit?
Interest will be calculated and paid out only on amounts up to Rs.1.5 lakhs for any year. Only the maximum annual investment limit i.e. Rs.1.5 lakhs a year will be considered towards all PPF calculations for all purposes.
The limit was raised from Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh mid-way through 2014. If the limit is raised this year in the same way, how will I make the additional deposit? Should I wait for next year?
When the limit is raised during a financial year, banks and post offices are instructed to accept additional investments if investors wish to contribute up to the revised maximum limit. This is what was done last year for those who wished to contribute up to Rs.1.5 lakhs under the revised limit.
How is interest calculated? I got interest for 11 months instead of 12 months for the last year.
For any given month, investments made on or before the 5th will be considered for interest calculations for that month. Interest is calculated on the lower of the balance held on the 5th of a month to the end of the month.For e.g. An account held Rs.1 lakh at the start of September. The account holder decided to invest Rs.50,000. He did so on September 10th. In this case, the balance on the 5th of September was Rs.1 lakh and was Rs.1.5 lakhs at month-end. Here, Rs.1 lakh is the amount that will be considered for calculation of interest. The additional investment of Rs.50,000 would be considered for the month of October.If, however, the account holder had deposited the additional Rs.50,000 on September 3rd, the balance on the 5th of September would have been Rs.1.5 lakhs. This would have been the amount considered for interest calculations for the month of September.
I want to leave some money to my grandchild. Can I open the PPF account on her behalf?
No. Grandparents cannot open PPF accounts in their grandchildren’s names. The amount can be given to the parent/guardian who can open and operate the account in the name of their minor child/ward. However, if both parents of the minor child die, the grandparents, as guardians, can open and operate a PPF account for the minor child.
Is it mandatory to withdraw all the money in my PF account at the end of 15 years?No. It is not necessary to redeem all the funds held in the account at maturity. The account term can be continued or extended for as long as the investor wishes to operate it. The account can be continued for 5 years per extension. Extensions can be done by depositing fresh funds or without making any further deposits.
Will I continue to earn interest on my account if I extend the maturity period beyond 15 years?
Yes. Interest will be calculated and paid out based on the interest rates prevailing during the period of extension. If no fresh deposits are made during the period of extension, interest will be calculated based on the balance held at the end of the 15th year. If fresh deposits are made to extend the term, it will be added to the balance at the end of the 15th year and the total amount will be treated as principal for interest calculations.
Can I extend my account for 2 years on maturity?
Extensions can be made in blocks of 5 years each.
What happens to the money in my account if I die before maturity?
It can be claimed by the nominees or the legal heirs in the absence of nominees. If a nominee was named by the account holder, he/she will receive the entire amount held in the account. If more than one nominee was named, the nominees will receive funds held in the account proportionately i.e. as stated by the account holder in the nomination form.
Is it necessary to name nominees?
It is not mandatory to name nominees for a PPF account. However, it is advisable to do so to avoid conflicts in the event of death and to have a clear transfer of funds to a desired person.
How can a nominee/legal heir claim funds in a PPF account?
Nominees or legal heirs can claim funds in a PPF account when the account holder has passed away. They will be required to produce proof of death of the account holder. Nominees can claim funds in the proportion stated by the account holder in the nomination form.
How long can I extend my account for?
PPF accounts have a maturity period of 15 years. However, this can be extended for as long as the account holder wishes to continue it. Extensions can be done for 5 years at a time. For e.g. if an account matures on March 31st 2015, it can be extended till March 31st 2020. The next extension will be until March 31st 2025 and so on.
I deposited money in my wife’s PPF account. Who can avail the tax deduction?
In this case it will be you who will be able to avail the PPF tax deduction. The person making the contribution is eligible for tax deductions U/S 80C.
I deposited money in my parents’ PPF accounts but did not qualify for tax deduction U/S 80C. Why?
Only contributions made to an account holder’s own account, his/her spouse’s account or his/her minor child’s account can be claimed as deductions U/S 80C of the Income Tax Act. The total contribution to any one or all of the abovementioned person’s account is subject to the investment cap of Rs.1.5 lakhs per annum.
If I withdraw money from my PPF account, can I redeposit it to meet the minimum annual investment requirement?
Yes, you can withdraw money for personal purposes. It can be used to invest the Rs.500 required as annual investment.
Can I open a PPF account along with my wife or child?
No. The option to hold PPF accounts jointly is not provided under the PPF scheme. A person can hold and operate only one account in his/her own name.
If I need money, can I make withdrawals in addition to taking out a loan against my PPF account?
No, withdrawals and loans are exclusive of each other as per the rules of operating a PPF account. Loan facilities are extended to account holders only between the 3rd and 6th year of operating an active account whereas partial withdrawals are allowed from the 7th year onwards. This means you cannot avail a loan from the 7th year onwards nor can you make withdrawals before the 6th year.
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