By Sanjeev Sinha | ECONOMICTIMES.COM | 1 Oct, 2013, 03.30PM IST
A provident fund (PF) is basically a plan to provide financial security after retirement. It is, therefore, not advisable to withdraw any amount from one’s provident fund account as PFs are primarily meant for retirement planning, and retirement planning is the most important goal in any person’s life.
“No need to say one should avoid doing so unless there is a great emergency, as the amount should be utilized post one retires or in case one stops working and his/ her earnings have depleted. For other emergencies, one should look at money from investments in other instruments like debt funds, liquid funds or a savings bank account, etc,” suggests Anil Chopra, Group CEO, Bajaj Capital.
In fact, there are various advantages of investing in a provident fund (PF). Generally, the return on provident fund is higher than inflation, and is totally tax fee. Thus, withdrawing out of it would have the following consequences:
1) Retirement planning would go haywire
2) Tax-free status would be lost because that money cannot be put back. For example, let’s say, someone has a balance of Rs 50 lakh in his provident fund account, and he wishes to withdraw Rs 25 lakh out of that. This amount of Rs 25 lakh cannot be put back into it later, as it is not allowed as per rules.
Therefore, “withdrawal from a PF account is generally discouraged, as the purpose of opening it and accumulating money there is mainly for the second innings of your life, which is post retirement,” says Chopra.
Nitin Vyakaranam, Founder & CEO, Arthayantra.com, is of similar opinion. “Withdrawing PF stands out as the classic case of lack of prioritization and holistic approach in our financial decision making process. By making withdrawals from the PF to fund other goals, we end up pushing our retirement age or making higher contributions towards building retirement fund during the last few years of our employment,” he says.
However, in case one wants to withdraw money from his/ her PF account, the rules for the same are very stringent, which also vary as per the types of provident funds. In India PFs are of three kinds:
a) Public Provident Fund (PPF) – For general public
b) Employees Provident Fund (EPF) – For private sector employees
C) General Provident Fund (GPF) – For government sector employees
In case of PPF, which is normally meant for 15 years, withdrawal is allowed before that also, but under very stringent norms. For example, no amount can be withdrawn at all for the first six years. After six years, the amount equivalent to 50 per cent of the balance, which was there more than 3 years ago, can be withdrawn. Thus, the entire money cannot be withdrawn before the end of 15 years. Even after 15 years, it can be rolled over for another period of 5 years and after that every five years it can be rolled over or closed.
Similarly, in case of EPF or GPF, withdrawal is not allowed generally unless one has given up working or wants to be self-employed, etc. As per EPF rules, you are allowed to withdraw money only if you have no job at the time of withdrawing your fund and if 2 months have passed. Only transfer is allowed in case you have switched to a new job. Some people, however, withdraw the EPF after 60 days of leaving the organization, stating that they don’t have any job, but this is illegal as per the EPF rules, if you are doing so after switching to a new job.
Thus, if you have no job at the time of withdrawing your fund and if 2 months have passed after leaving your organisation, then you are allowed to withdraw the fund. A declaration is required to be given stating the reason for the same. Otherwise, partial withdrawal is allowed in certain cases, which is in the form of loan, where one has to pay back that amount later and before that, has to state the reason for opting for withdrawal, for example, self or daughter’s marriage, buying a home, education of self or children, medical treatment for self or family, among others.
There are certain specified criteria under which partial withdrawal is permitted. In case of education or marriage, for instance, the employee should have completed at least 7 years of employment or service. The maximum aggregate withdrawal can’t exceed 50 per cent of the total contributions made by you and withdrawal can be made only thrice during a person’s total service tenure. Proof of education or wedding is also required to be submitted.
Likewise withdrawal is permitted for medical treatment of self, spouse, parents and children. In this case, however, there is no restriction regarding the number of years of service. But the maximum amount one can withdraw is six times the basic salary and proof of hospitalization is required.
In case you wish to withdraw from your EPF account for purchase/construction of a house, then you need to have completed at least 5 years of service. The maximum withdrawal amount is 36 times your monthly salary (for construction of property) and 24 times (for purchase of property). In this case withdrawal is allowed only once during the entire service tenure.
For alteration or renovation of house, withdrawal is allowed up to 12 times your monthly salary and only once during the entire service tenure. But the house need to be registered in your or your spouse’s name or should be owned jointly.
If you need to withdraw for repayment of home loan, then you should have completed at least 10 years of employment. The maximum withdrawal amount is 36 times the monthly salary of yours and withdrawal is allowed only once during the entire service tenure.
If one has retired or stopped working, he/ she needs to fill a PF withdrawal form and share his/ her bank account number, which has to be counter signed by the employer. After this, the money is directly sent to one’s bank account. The process takes longer in case of EPF – anywhere between 2 weeks to may be up to two months also.
“On the other hand, if you have a PPF account, withdrawal is very easy after completion of 15 years. You can collect the demand draft or cheque by going to the post office or bank on the same day or get the money transferred in your bank account. Thus, one can get the money in a day’s time,” informs Chopra.
Also, if one wishes to withdraw before the end of 15 years, let’s say 6 years, the amount which can be withdrawn as per rules will be calculated, and by filling an application in the prescribed format, it can be taken out maximum in one day’s time. Thus, withdrawing from PPF is easier than withdrawing from EPF or GPF.
Source : http://goo.gl/uvbGAr