As investment instruments, PPF (Public Provident Fund) and EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund) have a lot of things uncommon between them. Basically speaking, the decision to invest in a PPF scheme rests with the investors while EPF is automatically deducted from the salary of the salaried class of people. Both these investment options enable the investors cave on taxes. Section 80 C of the Income Tax Act of 1961 makes both PPF and EPF investments eligible for a range of income tax benefits.
Overview of EPF and PPF
In India, two types of provident funds are popularly known namely Employees’ Provident Fund or EPF and Public Provident Fund or PPF. Under the existing regulations, EPF is automatically deducted from the salary of the salaried class individuals by their employees and paid into their respective EPF accounts maintained with the EPF department under the auspices of the Government of India. The choice to invest in a PPF scheme solely rests with the investor. This means that if you are a salaried individual, you do not have a choice not to subscribe to the EPF scheme. Hence, the deductions will be invariably made from your salary to be invested into your EPF account. But, whether you wish to invest in a PPF scheme is purely optional. EPFO or Employees Provident Fund Organization is a retirement fund body that governs the EPF scheme. PPF scheme is offered by the Government of India through banks and post offices.
How do these schemes compare
The government decides the interest rate of PPF year on year depending on several factors related to the country’s economy. Over the past several years, the interest rate of EPF contributions had never come down below 8.5 percent. The government decides the interest rates of PPF during every quarter. For the quarter ending in June 2018, the interest rate for PPF investments was fixed at 7.6% for example. Since the PPF investments come under the Exempt, Exempt, Exempt category, the returns are completely exempt from taxes. The principal amount, the maturity amount and the benefits earned on the investment are all qualified for tax exemption.
How the EPF and PPF schemes operate
If an individual works with a company that has more than 20 people on its rolls, EPF deduction is compulsory. The salaried employee contributes about 12 percent from their monthly salary towards EPF. The employer has to contribute an equal share of 12 percent which will be deposited in the employee’s account along with the employee’s contribution.
Any citizen who is a resident of India can open a PPF account. To open a PPF account it is not necessary that the individual must be a salaried person. Members of Hindu Undivided Families (HUF) cannot open a PPF account. The tenure of investment in case of a PPF account is 15 years. Once this period expires, the investment can be extended for another 5 years. From the third financial year of opening the account, the investor can take a loan from the PPF account. From the seventh financial year, the investor can make partial withdrawals from this account.