Basic of Employee Provident Fund (EPF)

“Every month I save my salary into EPF and it is a great form of investment” I have heard this way too many times. When I asked them if they knew what EPF is and how is EPF a great investment? Not many people were able to answer this question.

People just know that 12% of their salary goes into an EPF account and it is  a great form of investment and savings.  EPF being a primary investment for salaried individuals, you must know everything about it. Hence, we have written a detailed article about everything that you would want to and must know about your EPF investments.

What is EPF?

EPF is retirement benefit scheme that is generally available to all salaried employees and forms an important tool for financial planning.

Basically, EPF is like a guaranteed investment as the amount is deducted from your salary before the same is paid to you and invested. You might skip on your SIP or Insurance premium, but your EPF will be deducted from your salary each month.

Regulatory guidelines

Under Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, EPF has two components namely Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme 1952 and Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 (EPS). These are two different retirement saving schemes under which any salaried individual is covered if he/she is drawing more than INR 6,500 per month as basic salary.

Structure

There are 2 contributions into the EPF.

  • Employee, 12 % of your basic salary (and DA if any) is invested into the EPF account.
  • Employer contributes further 12% of your basic pay from his side into the EPF.
  • Thus, total of 24% of your basic pay (plus DA, if any) is invested each month..

Contribution to EPF & EPS

There are a few components of EPF such as below.

SchemeEmployee’s Contribution of basic pay (+ DA if any)Employer’s Contribution of basic pay
EPF12% of basic pay3.67% (where salary is upto INR 15,000)
  12% of basic pay less 1250 towards EPS (where salary is more than INR 15,000)
EPSNil8.33% of basic (where salary is upto INR 15,000
  INR 1250 per month (where salary is more than INR 15,000)
EDLISNil0.5% (capped at maximum of INR 15,000)

EPF – Employee Provident Fund

  • The money contributed towards EPF is invested and managed by a trust and the employee earns interest from 8% to 12% on the same (depending on the results of a specific year).
  • The corpus of EPF is received as a lumpsum amount on fulfillment of certain conditions.
  • Entire Employee’s contribution goes towards EPF.
  • A part of employer’s contribution goes towards EPF.
  • Where the salary is INR 15,000 3.67% of the same is contributed towards EPF.
  • Where the salary is more than INR 15,000, the employer has an option of investing INR 1250 towards EPS and balance towards EPF and EDLIS. The same depends upon the Employer.

EPS – Employee Pension Scheme

(Refer our Article on EPS )

  • EPS offers pension on disablement, widow pension, and pension for nominees.
  • No interest is earned on EPS. If your corpus of INR 3 lakhs is accumulated through EPS, you would get INR 3 lakhs as pension money.
  • No amount from the employee contribution goes towards EPS.
  • A part of employer contribution goes towards EPS.
  • Where salary is INR 15,000 or more, 8.33% of INR 15,000 is compulsory contributed towards EPS i.e. INR 1250 each month is to be contributed to EPS.

EDLIS – Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme

(Refer our Article  on EDLIS )

  • Provides for a lump sum payment to the insured’s nominated beneficiary in the event of death due to natural causes, illness or accident, while in job.
  • Premium for the EDLI is entirely funded by the employer, which contributes 0.5% of monthly basic pay (capped at a maximum of INR 15,000) as premium for life cover in case the organization does not have a group insurance scheme for its employees.
  • Maximum amount insured under EDLIS is INR 6 lakhs.
                                                                                                  is a risk free, tax free long term debt investment.

Tax benefits

The employer contribution is exempt from tax up to 12% contribution while employee’s contribution is eligible for tax benefit under Section 80 C of the Income-Tax Act, 1961. EPF is under the EEE norm currently indicating that the money invested, interest earned and the money withdrawn after a specified period (5 years) are all exempted from income tax in the hands of the employee.

Nomination

EPF provides you with nomination facility whereby mother, father, spouse or children can be nominated for receiving the proceeds at the time of death of an employee. Government, currently, doesn’t allow nominating siblings.

Transfer and withdrawal policy

  • If a person is not employed for two months at a stretch, there is a provision by which he/she can choose to withdraw EPF.
  • It is advisable to transfer the existing EPF with previous employer to new employer while switching jobs.
  • The process of transfer of EPF is now seamless with the introduction of Universal Account Number (UAN) which is discussed in detail in subsequent para.
  • If you withdraw the EPF amount before completion of five years with an employer the corpus withdrawn is taxed as per your current income tax slabs as the amount withdrawn is then added to your gross salary.
  • Further, withdrawal is generally not permissible if the person is still working.
  • Withdrawal is possible in following cases: children’s higher education, marriage, medical treatment, home loan repayment, construction of house, purchase of flat, etc.
  • Non-refundable advances are also allowed after having completed minimum five years of membership.
  • In case your service is less than 10 years and you have opted for withdrawal on account of no job, an employee is entitled for 100% of EPF including interest on EPF. In addition, employee is also entitled for receiving EPS contribution that is computed based on withdrawal benefit (on pension). Refer our Article on EPS to understand the same in detail.

Receiving pension

An employee start receiving pension from EPS amount after completion of minimum 10 years of service and attaining the age of 58 or 50 years. The pension amount is payable to the subscriber until he is alive and in the event of death of the employee, members of his family -whoever is nominated is entitled for the pension. Monthly pension is determined based on ‘pensionable service’ and ‘pensionable salary’ for which the following formula is generally used:

Monthly pension = (Pensionable salary X Pensionable service) ÷ 70

It is worth noting here that the pensionable salary is nothing but your basic salary on which you have paid EPS premium. Thus, monthly pension will have received will be nowhere closer to real CTC.

Top-up on EPF (Voluntary Provident Fund)

Yes, you can always invest more than 12% of regular contribution. However, any amount over and above EPF is termed as Voluntary Provident Fund or the VPF. In this case the excess amount is invested in EPF and is eligible interest benefit.

UAN services and other recent developments

UAN is a unique number assigned to an employee and it indicates that the subscriber is availing Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) service. EPFO generally manages the money in your EPF account.

UAN number is fixed throughout the lifetime and has portable flexibility. Thus, when an employee changes job his new EPF account which will have different account number and will be opened by new employer can be linked directly to UAN.  Thus, UAN acts as an umbrella of multiple EPF IDs allotted to an employee by different firms.

EPFO, in a recent development, introduced the facility of linking Aadhar (unique id) to UAN. This would help the member avail facility in a better and seamless manner. The facility is available at the official website http://www.epfindia.gov.in under Online Services section.

Benefits of Linking UAN With Aadhaar

  • Receive monthly updates on registered mobile number
  • Download e-passbook anytime
  • Submit claims directly to EPFO without any mediation of employer
  • Link multiple EPF accounts allotted over the years
  • Edit and update personal details

Refer our Article to understand the interest calculation on EPF and the amount due to you over a period of time.

EPF contribution is definitely one of the best investments for retirement. It is risk free, tax free, long term debt investment which gives approximately a return of 9.7% post taxes and helps salaried people to build on a corpus for retirement or any other financial need over the long term.

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