Creating a retirement portfolio after a certain age is essential for salaried individuals to make their future financially secure. To help such people with the same, the Government of India offers two savings schemes viz. National Pension Scheme (NPS) and Public Provident Fund (PPF). Both are long-term savings instruments providing income tax benefits.

The following are the highlights of NPS vs PPF to aid individuals to choose the right plan and invest accordingly.

National Pension Scheme (NPS) 

The Government of India started the National Pension Scheme on 1st January 2004 after it decided to stop defined-benefit pensions. The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) oversees every operation about NPS.

Initially, the scheme was available only to government employees; since 2009, every individual between the ages of 18 and 65 can opt to avail of the benefits offered under this investment scheme.

Those asking “NPS or PPF which is better” should note that the former is available from 8 pension fund managers as listed below –

  • Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund Ltd.
  • HDFC Pension Management Co. Ltd.
  • SBI Pension Funds Pvt. Ltd.
  • ICICI Prudential Pension Fund Management Co. Ltd.
  • Birla Sunlife Pension Management Ltd.
  • Reliance Capital Pension Fund Ltd.
  • UTI Retirement Solutions Ltd.
  • LIC Pension Fund Ltd.

Subscribers can create two types of accounts –

  • Tier I –Tier I accounts are subject to strict premature withdrawal conditions. Investors opening such accounts provided with a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN).
  • Tier II – Tier II accounts can be created only by those who already have an active Tier I account. These accounts offer more flexibility in withdrawal terms, unlike the former.

Few of the features of the National Pension Scheme are –

  • Income tax benefits 

Subscribers can claim an income tax exemption of up to Rs.1.5 lakh with NPS under Section 80C, Section 80CCC, and Section 80CCD (1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. On top of that, they can avail of an additional benefit of Rs.50,000 under Section 80CCD(1b).

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One of the highlighting points of NPS vs. PPF is that income tax benefits with the former are substantially higher.

  • Premature withdrawal and exit facility 

For Tier I subscribers, the partial withdrawal limit is set at 25% of the total contribution. However, the account must be at least ten years old to be eligible for such withdrawals.

In case of partial exit, 20% of the total contribution is eligible for withdrawal, while the remaining 80% will be use to purchase an annuity or pension plan.

For example –

Mr. Kohli total contribution to this account is Rs.8 lakh. Now, at the age of 40, he wishes to make a premature exit. He will be able to withdraw Rs.1.6 lakh (20% of Rs.8 lakh). The remaining Rs.6.4 lakh will go towards the purchase of an annuity.

  • Two different methods of investment 

The scheme allows subscribers to invest in two different methods –

  • Auto choice –This option is for those who do not have the necessary knowledge to manage or make any investment decisions.
  • Active choice – This option enables subscribers to invest in equity (E), corporate debt (C), government/gilt bonds (G), or alternative instruments (A).

Public Provident Fund (PPF)

Public Provident Fund (PPF) is a long-term savings scheme offered by the Government of India via post offices and commercial banks. This scheme also provides income tax benefits.

One of the crucial points in the National Pension Scheme vs PPF is that the latter is not available for HUFs and NRIs.

Some of the features of this scheme are as follows –

  • Income tax benefits 

Public Provident Fund allows income tax benefits of up to Rs.1.5 lakh under Section 80C of the ITA. It should noted here that in NPS vs PPF, the latter does not offer tax exemptions under Section 80CCD (1b).

  • Lock-in period and premature withdrawal 

This investment option comes with a lock-in period of 15 years. However, account-holders will be able to withdraw from the 5th year onwards prematurely.

The premature withdrawal limit is capped at 50% of the available funds at the end of the 4th or that of the preceding year, whichever is lower.

For example,

Mr. Rakesh has a PPF account since 2012. He now wishes to withdraw 50% of the corpus from his account. Now, let’s assume that the amount at the end of the 4th year or 2016 was Rs.50,000 and that at the end of 2019 is Rs.1 lakh.

As per the conditions, he will be eligible to withdraw 50% of Rs.50,000, i.e., Rs.25,000, since it is the lowest sum amongst the two.

  • Availability of loans against the deposit

The account holders are eligible to avail of a loan against their deposits between the 3rd and the 6th year. Currently, the rate of interest on such loans is 1% per annum.

Difference between NPS and PPF

Some of the critical points highlighting the difference between PPF and NPS are –

Particulars NPS PPF
Eligibility Anyone between the age of 18 and 65 years. Anyone except HUFs and NRIs.
Minimum amount/maximum amount Rs.1,000 for Tier I and Rs.250 for Tier II/nil Rs.500/Rs.1.5 Lakh (per year)
Rate of interest Varies (usually 9% to 12%) 7.1% (w.e.f. 1st April 2020)
Premature withdrawal After completion of 10 years for Tier I accounts. 5th year onwards.

Both NPS and PPF are stable investment options with guaranteed returns. Nonetheless, individuals must ensure that they know about the features of each of these products before choosing one to invest in.

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