EPF or PF – Eligibility, Benefits & Process
Employees’ Provident Fund or EPF is a popular savings scheme that has been introduced by the EPFO under the supervision of the Government of India.
The savings scheme is directed towards the salaried-class to facilitate their habit of saving money to build a substantial retirement corpus.
The EPF scheme has catered to over 5 Crore individuals and is directed by three different Acts, namely, the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme Act, 1952, the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme Act, 1976 and the Employees’ Pension Scheme Act, 1995.
The fund is built with monetary contribution extended by employees and their employer each month. Both parties extend 12% each of the employees’ monthly salary, as their share of contribution towards EPF.
The fund thus built accrues a pre-fixed rate of interest that has been set by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation. The accrued interest on the EPF is tax-free and can be withdrawn without paying for the same. Employees avail a lump-sum amount on their retirement, which is inclusive of the accrued interest.
Individuals can apply to avail various online services of EPF India by accessing the official portal. The EPF online portal is a user-friendly platform that ensures to keep the flow of services transparent, efficient and hassle-free.
What is the eligibility to become an EPF India Member?
The Employee Provident Fund is open for employees of both the Public and Private Sectors, which means all employees can apply to become a member of EPF India.
Additionally, any organisation that employs at least 20 individuals is deemed liable to extend benefits of EPF to its employees.
When an employee becomes an active member of the scheme, they are considered eligible to avail several benefits in the form of Employees Provident Fund benefits, insurance benefits and pension benefits.
What are the benefits of EPF India Scheme?
The employees’ provident fund scheme extends an array of benefits towards the EPF employee members. It inculcates a sense of financial stability and security in them.
Here is a list of benefits that an EPF employee member can avail through the said scheme –
- Capital appreciation – The PF online scheme offers a pre-fixed interest on the deposit held with the EPF India. Additionally, rewards extended at maturity further ensure growth in the employees’ funds and accelerate capital appreciation.
- Corpus for Retirement – Around 8.33% of an employer’s contribution is directed towards the Employee Pension Scheme. In the long run, the sum deposited towards the employee provident fund helps to build a healthy retirement corpus. Such a corpus would extend a sense of financial security and independence to them after retirement.
- Emergency Corpus – Uncertainties are a part of life. Therefore, being financially prepared to face such unwarranted situations is the best an individual can do deal with exigencies. An EPF fund acts as an emergency corpus when an individual requires emergency funds.
- Tax-saving – Under Section 80C of the Indian Income Tax Act, en employee’s contribution towards their PF account is deemed eligible for tax exemption. Moreover, earnings generated through EPF scheme are exempted from taxes. Such exemption can be availed up to a limit of Rs. 1.5 Lakh.
The tax benefits applicable to the Employees Provident Fund scheme ensure higher earnings to the members. It further improves savings and an individual’s purchasing power in the long-term.
- Easy premature withdrawal – Members of EPF India are entitled to avail benefits of partial withdrawal. Individuals can withdraw funds from their PF account to meet their specific requirements like pursuing higher education, constructing a house, bearing wedding expenses or for availing medical treatment.
What is the rate of interest offered by the Epf Scheme?
For the Financial year 2019-2020, the pre-fixed rate of interest offered by the EPF scheme is 8.55%. The interest amount accrued on the investments in a PF online account is tax-free.
Such interest is paid only on the operative PF accounts of employees who are yet to retire. But the interest thus accrued on such accounts is taxed as per an EPF employee member’s tax slab.
It should also be noted that for the share contributed towards Employee’s Pension Scheme does not accrue interest. However, members are entitled to receive a pension out of this accumulated sum after they turn 58 years old.
How is Interest on EPF Calculated?
The interest extended on EPF schemes is calculated each month and is calculated by dividing the rate p.a. by 12.
Such a method helps to calculate the specific interest that is offered to member employees for a given month.
For example –
If the rate of interest is 8.55% p.a. the rate for each month would be (8.55/12) %, i.e. 0.7125%.
Now, 12% of an individual’s salary is directed towards their EPF account.
Assuming that the salary of an individual is Rs. 15,000 per month –
12% of Rs. 15,000 would accrue Rs. 18, 00 by month-end which would be transferred to the individual’s EPF account.
Now, employers contribute 3.67% towards their EPF account, while 8.33% is contributed towards their EPS account.
The contribution towards EPF account would be –3.67% of Rs. 15,000 = Rs. 550.
The total contribution towards the EPF account would stand at Rs. (1800+550) = Rs.2350
The interest accrued in one month would be Rs. 2350 x 0.7125% = Rs. 16.75
It is to be noted that the interest accrued in a given month would only be credited to the account at the end of a current financial year.
What is an EPF form?
EPF forms are vital for the processing of any activity in an EPF employee member’s EPF account. Be it registration, PF transfer, withdrawal or availing loans; an EPF form is mandatory for completing such activities.
The table below offers a brief idea about the different EPS forms and the purpose they are required for –
|Form||Purpose Of The Form||Application|
|Form 2||For nominating and declaring.||Applicable to both EPF and EPS.|
|Form 5||For registering.||Applicable to new employees registering for EPS and EPF.|
|Form 5 IF||For availing a claim under EDLI scheme|
|Form 10C||For availing withdrawal benefits or scheme certification.||EPS|
|Form 10D||For availing monthly pension.|
|Form 11||For transferring EPF account.||EPF|
|Form 14||For purchasing LIC policy.|
|Form 15G||For availing tax-saving benefits on interest.||EPF|
|Form 19||For settling employees provident fund.||EPF|
|Form 20||For settling employees provident fund in case of death.||EPF|
|Form 31||For EPF withdrawal.||EPF|
Under what circumstances can EPF be wthdrawn?
Individuals may opt for either partial or complete withdrawal of EPF. But such withdrawals can be made only under specific circumstances.
Here is a list of a few such circumstances under which individuals can withdraw EPF completely –
- On retirement.
- If their unemployment period extends more than two months.
- While switching from one profession to another or in between jobs. But the duration without a job should be more than two months.
Here is a list of a few such circumstances under which individuals can withdraw EPF partially –
- For a wedding.
- For higher education.
- For purchasing land or constructing a house.
- Repayment of home loan.
- Renovating a housing property.
What is the process of EPF withdrawal?
EPF India members can withdraw EPF by submitting a withdrawal application either offline or through EPF online portal.
For offline submission –
- Individuals need to fill up a ‘new composite claim form’ or a ‘composite claim form” and submit the same to the EPFO office under their jurisdiction.
- A composite claim form needs to be attested by their employer.
For online submission –
- Individuals must have an active Universal Account Number (UAN).
- The mobile number used to activate the UAN should be active as well.
- UAN should be linked to be linked with Aadhaar. They would also need the PAN and respective bank details with its IFSC code.
- After ensuring all the prerequisites are in place, they need to login into the UAN online portal.
- Individuals need to verify their KYC details and then proceed as per instructions.
Being a retirement-oriented scheme, the primary aim of Employee Provident Fund is to enable individuals to become financially prepared for their retired life. This being said, individuals should try to avoid premature withdrawal if it is not necessary.