GPF or General Provident Fund is a savings scheme available to government employees. EPF or Employees’ Provident Fund is a savings scheme available to employees in companies with more than 20 workers. PPF or Public Provident Fund is available to everyone – whether employed, self-employed or unemployed.
|Eligibility||Only govt employees||Only the organised sector||All resident Indians|
|Maturity Period||Age of retirement||Age of 58 years||15-year term|
|Premature Closure||On leaving govt service||On 2 months of unemployment||After 5 years on medical grounds and children’s higher education|
A provident fund is basically a saving scheme designed to build a reliable retirement corpus in the form of a lump-sum amount at the time of retirement. Provident fund essentially provides financial security to elderly people.
EPF is available to salaried people in the organised sector and contributions to the fund are made by both the employee and the employer. In some cases, even the state makes some contribution to the fund. However, there are also some provident funds in which people having a business income can invest such as PPF. GPF, on the other hand, is only available to government servants.
The investment in these provident funds (EPF, GPF, and PPF) is a relatively low risk due to their government or statutory backing. Out of the three funds, the government directly pays interest on GPF and PPF. In the case of EPF, the interest rate depends on the returns generated by the EPF. The EPF rate is 8.50% while the PPF and the GPF rates are both 7.1%. Tax deduction under Section 80 C is available for EPF, PPF, and GPF. The interest on all three investments is tax-free.
General Provident Fund (GPF)
GPF is exclusively available for government sector employees. Individuals employed with the Government of India contribute a minimum of 6% of their salary and are entitled to the accumulated funds at the time of the superannuation or retirement. The current rate of interest on GPF is 7.1%
All the temporary government servants after a continuous service of one year, all permanent government servants, and all re-employed pensioners (other than those eligible for Contributory Provident Fund) are mandatorily required to subscribe to the GPF.
GPF is managed by the Department of Pension and Pensioner’s Welfare under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions.
At the time of a GPF subscription, the subscriber can nominate one or more than one person, conferring them the right to claim for the fund in case of the death of the GPF holder.
The interest rate on the GPF funds is revised by the government from time to time depending on the prevailing market interest rate. As per the latest notification, the government has decreased the rate of interest on GPF by 0.8%.
GPF Contribution Rate
The amount of subscriptions for the GPF is fixed by the subscriber himself. However, the contribution rate should not be less than 6% of the total emoluments of the employee. The maximum contribution is 100% of the employee’s salary.
GPF has provisions for refundable advances from the fund on various but pre-defined grounds including education, medical emergency, marriage, and for buying a house or consumer durables.
The GPF subscriber can get up to 12 months of pay or three-fourths of the GPF balance, whichever is less. However, the sanctioning authority can allow withdrawing 90% of the balance under some special circumstances.
The sanctioning authority must sanction and credit the qualified advance within fifteen days of the date on which such request is raised. There is no requirement for documentary proof to be furnished by the subscriber in order to raise a claim for GPF advance. The amount borrowed has to be repaid. It can be repaid in a maximum of 60 months’ installments.
It should be noted that there is no interest charged on the GPF advance and the account holder can make multiple claims for GPF advances in his career. If you are already repaying a GPF advance then also you can make a request for a fresh advance.
However, if the advance is granted before complete repayment of the earlier advance, the outstanding amount will be added to the new advance, and installments for recovery refixed with reference to the consolidated amount.
GPF Maturity and Withdrawal
- The GPF matures at the age of retirement/superannuation of the concerned government employee
- The employee can withdraw his GPF funds on various grounds but only after completing 10 years of service or within 10 years before the date of retirement on superannuation, whichever is earlier. This applies if the employee has not left government service. However, in this case, the claim for the withdrawal can be raised only on certain pre-defined grounds including
- If an employee quits the job at any stage, he becomes eligible to withdraw his GPF balance irrespective of his service tenure
- Finally, on the death of the subscriber, the GPF amount will be paid to his/her nominee
Contributions to GPF are exempt from tax. The interest rate on GPF is also exempt from tax.
Employee Provident Fund (EPF)
EPF is the government-backed saving scheme that provides a social security net to the employees working in the organized sector. Any organization having 20 or more employees is mandated to be registered under the EPF scheme and provide its benefits to its employees. EPF is managed by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Misc. Provisions Act, 1952.
Apart from the long-term retirement corpus, an EPF member is also entitled to a pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS). If the member has completed 10 years of cumulative service under the EPF registered organizations, he will be eligible for EPS.
Employees enrolled under the EPF need to contribute 12% of their basic salary (up to Rs. 15,000) towards the EPF fund and an equal contribution is made by the employer on a monthly basis. The contribution made by the employer is divided into different parts. Out of the 12% contributed by the employer, 8.33% gets credited to EPS and the rest (3.67%) goes to EPF.
Also Read: All You Need To Know About EPF Contributions
The interest rate on the EPF fund is decided by the government time to time which is currently fixed at 8.50%. Also, the EPF contributions along with the interest income are tax exempted at every stage.
Every member who registers with EPFO is assigned a 12 digit Universal Account Number (UAN) which is linked to all of the PF accounts of the member. The EPF member can access his EPF account using the EPF e-Sewa member portal and also update KYC, raise claims for EPF withdrawal/ settlement and know the status of the claims raised earlier.
Also Read: 5 Things You Can Do At The EPF Member Portal
Generally, one can withdraw the EPF corpus on retirement at the age of 58. However, EPFO allows the EPF member to withdraw the funds partially on various grounds like in case of unemployment, medical emergency, education, marriage, etc. For example, the EPF member can withdraw 75% of the EPF corpus if he remains unemployed for one month and can make a full and final settlement (100% of corpus) after two months or more unemployment.
One can even withdraw or transfer the PF balance online using the UAN e-Sewa member portal.
Also Read: How To Withdraw Your EPF Funds Online?
Public Provident Fund (PPF)
PPF is again a government-guaranteed long-term-saving-cum-tax-saving provident fund which was launched way back in 1968 under the Public Provident Fund Act, 1968. However, unlike the GPF and EPF, PPF can be subscribed by both salaried as well as self-employed individuals having a business income.
Also, it should be noted that enrolling under PPF is completely a voluntary decision of the subscriber while the subscription under EPF and GPF is mandatory for the eligible employee. PPF is managed by the Department of Economic Affairs under the Ministry of Finance.
Only the investor (not employer) makes contributions towards PPF. One can start with a minimum investment of Rs. 500 and go up to Rs.1.5 lakh annually in order to avail tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. One can make contributions to PPF as in lump-sum or in a maximum of 12 installments per year.
PPF comes under the EEE (Exempt-Exempt-Exempt) category of tax in which the principal amount, interest earned, and maturity amount, all are exempt from taxes.
Again, the interest rate provided on the PPF funds is decided by the government which is currently fixed at 7.1%. The interest is calculated on the lowest balance between the 1st and 5th of every month. Therefore, one should ideally make contributions before the 5th of the month towards his PPF account.
The maturity period of the PPF deposits is 15 years which is also known as the lock-in period. However, the government has allowed for premature closure of the PPF account in certain predefined circumstances such as serious ailment (medical grounds) or for the higher education of children. The withdrawer needs to forgo 1% of the interest earned on deposits as a penalty for premature closure of the PPF account.
The subscriber can also apply for a loan on various grounds against his PPF balance only after completion of 7 years of contribution. However, the upper limit of loan against the PPF is 50% of the total balance at the end of the 5th year.
Also Read: 5 Differences b/w EPF and PPF