Difference between NPS and EPF - which one should you opt for?

In Indian scenario, NPS (National Pension Scheme) and EPF (Employees Provident Fund) are two viable options for ensuring a financial cover in the absence of a regular income or as a corpus that can be used in times of need. 

However, not investing in the right instrument can mean you are losing out on the potential returns of your investment. For instance, while EPFO invests predominantly in debt instruments, investing in NPS promises higher returns over the long term.

Find out how they differ from one another:

CriteriaNational Pension SchemeEmployee Provident Fund
A/C openingMandatory only for government employeesMandatory for every establishment employing more than 20 or more employees
EligibilityAge: 18-65 (Indians + NRI) - can be opened by anyoneOnly for salaried Individuals
InvestmentIt is a market-linked product. Its performance depends on the equity and debt marketThe Central Board fixes the interest rate for the year - government debt investment. 
Tax BenefitTax deduction of INR 2 lakhs under section 80C and  CCDYou can avail tax deduction of INR 1.5 lakhs under section 80C
Fund ManagerLiberty of choosing your fund managerDo not have the liberty of choosing a fund manager. The funds are invested by EPFO
Min Investment500/ year12% of salary per month or 1800, which can be increased voluntarily. 
Max investmentUnlimitedUnlimited (however, taxability varies)
Return8%-15% ( depending upon which funds you are investing your money in)8.5% (Interest as on September 1, 2020)
Lock in period & ExtensionAge: 60

Extension: 70

Age: 58

Extension: 60

Premature WithdrawalPartial withdrawals can be made up to 25% of the subscriber’s savings, but only after the 10th year of subscription.Partial withdrawal is allowed after 5 years of EPF when you fulfill certain conditions such as buying a new house, marriage, child education, sickness, death, etc. 
WithdrawalYou will get 60% of the corpus and 40% will be invested in an annuity for a monthly pension.

Read here- to know more

You will get the entire corpus after retirement.
Expense Ratio0.01% (also varies - it is  not fixed)0% (No expense ratio)
RiskLow risk (Market Dependent)No-Risk
Employer ContributionCan be doneEmployees along with the employers both contribute 12% of the employee’s basic wages towards EPS

Let’s assume, two friends Sanjay and Yogesh started saving for their retirement in 2021. Both of them are 23-years-old and want to retire at 60. Also, they plan to continue this investment until 2058, at the time of retirement. However, Sanjay has invested in NPS and Yogesh in PPF.

NPS vs PPF: Difference in the retirement corpus
Investment Product pickedNPSEPF
Average annual return12.90% (Growth profile)8.5%
Investment amount every monthINR 10000 (10% of Basic salary & DA)INR 12,000 (12% of Basic salary & DA)
Investment time period37 years37 years
Investment in 37 yearsINR 44.4 lakhsINR 53.28 lakhs
Retirement corpusLump-sum value: INR 7.33 crore

Annuity Value: INR 4.89 crore

INR 1.44 crore

NPS is devised as a pension scheme. So, you get to withdraw 60 percent of your accumulated corpus at retirement without paying any taxes. The remaining 40 percent must be converted into an annuity instrument (from an insurance company) and get monthly payments.

The primary reason for the difference in their corpus is the power of compounding. Since the last few years, the interest rate for EPF has been decreasing. At the same time, there are chances that NPS can give you more returns in the future (where the equity markets perform well) w.r.t a higher risk of the equity exposure in NPS. So, while they reach their retirement age, there is a probability that this difference might increase further. 

Wealth Cafe Advice

Opting for EPF or NPS is a matter of choice based on specific needs and projected requirements. Both come with their set of merits and demerits. Subscribers at an early age or with risk-bearing capacity should subscribe to NPS and opt for equity allocation based on their risk profile to accumulate large corpuses targeted to fund retirement needs. Where you believe your risk-taking capacity is not very high and you will find it difficult to manage NPS post-retirement - EPF has always been a classic option for your investments. 

However, in both scenarios, investors should not touch their retirement corpus for other financial goals. You should always mark these investments only for retirement.

To know more about EPF and NPS you can read the following articles:

Things to note about HRA and FAQ of HRA

Many times, people have to move to a different city in order to work. In such cases, they may end up paying rent for accommodation. Organizations often compensate employees for this expenditure by paying them a house rent allowance over and above their basic pay. This is usually a part of the salary structure. However, HRA is eligible for income tax exemption and can be a great way to reduce your taxable income.

Quest 1. What if I have a Home Loan as well? Can I claim a deduction on home loan interest?"

Ans. Yes. HRA has no bearing on your home loan interest deduction. Both can be claimed simultaneously. 

Read this article for more details- Can I claim Tax Benefit on both HRA & Home Loan?

Quest 2. “My employer doesn’t provide me with HRA? Am I losing out on saving tax?”

Ans. Not at all. If you are making payments towards rent for any furnished or unfurnished accommodation occupied by you for your residence, but do not receive HRA from your employer, you can claim a deduction under section 80GG.

However, certain conditions must be fulfilled to claim this deduction:

  • You are self-employed or salaried
  • You have not received HRA at any time during the year for which you are claiming 80GG
  • You or your spouse or your minor child or HUF of which you are a member – do not own any residential accommodation at the place where you currently reside, perform duties of office, or employment or carry on business or profession.

In case you own any residential property at any place other than the place mentioned above, then you should not claim the benefit of that property as self-occupied. That other property would be deemed to be ‘let out to claim the deduction under section 80GG.

Quest 3. “So how do I claim the Section 80GG deduction?”

Ans. The least of the amounts below will be considered as the deduction under this section:

  • Rs 5,000 per month
  • 25% of Adjusted Total Income
  • Actual Rent less 10% of Adjusted Total Income

Adjusted Total Income means Total Income less long term capital gain and short term capital gain under section 111A and Income under section 115A or 115D and deductions 80C to 80U (except deduction under section 80GG).

Quest 4. “I am living with my parents. How do I claim the HRA deduction?”

Ans. Let’s understand this through a case: Ms. Sonam works at an MNC in Bangalore. Her company provides her with a house rent allowance. But she doesn’t live in rented accommodation; she lives with her parents instead. How can she make use of this allowance?

Sonam can pay rent to her parents and claim the allowance, provided they own the place they currently live in. All Sonam has to do is enter into a rental agreement with her parents and transfer money to them every month.

This way Sonam can make a nice gesture and give something back to her parents, and also save some tax.

Important: Sonam’s parents will have to show the rent she paid in their income tax returns. But as a family, they will save up. They can generate their Rent Receipts.

Ques 5. “I have forgotten to submit rent receipts to my employer. How can I claim the HRA tax benefit now?”

Ans. The good news is that HRA can be claimed directly on your income tax returns. . All you have to do is manually calculate the HRA tax exemption and then report this as an expense under Section 10(13A) in ITR1. You will also need to declare this in Form 16 - Part B. You will then be able to claim a refund of tax that has been deducted in excess.

Ques 6. Can the maintenance charges that I pay for my apartment be included for HRA tax exemption?

Ans. No. HRA deductions are allowed only for rent payment. Maintenance charges, electricity charges, utility payments, etc. are not included.

Ques 7. Can a self-employed taxpayer claim HRA?

Ans. No, a self-employed individual cannot claim HRA exemption under the Income Tax Act, 1961. A salaried individual having an HRA component in their salary structure can claim HRA exemption under Section 10 (13A) of the Income Tax Act.

Crackdown on tax evaders

Submitting fake rent receipts has been one of the most common ways for individuals to reduce their taxes, despite it being unethical. However, the new rules put in place by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) are expected to change all this. Assessing officers can question individuals and ask them for additional documentation if they feel the rent receipts provided are not adequate proof. This is just one of several measures that the government has put in place to curb instances of tax evasion and black money.

Failing to comply with these rules and providing fake rent receipts is considered fraud, and could result in serious consequences.


So, ensure you are well versed with the tax filing process and that you have all the necessary documentation in place for filing returns. It will make the entire process smoother and quicker for you. 

What is an allowance? What are the types of allowance?

Taxpayers are usually aware of deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act or for which they are eligible. However, it is noticed that taxpayers are unaware of the taxability of allowances and the exemptions available under different sources of income.

If you think that your entire salary is liable to taxes, then that is not true. Your overall package, often known as CTC, comprises many allowances. 

While your basic salary is fully taxable, there are other benefits offered to the employees in the form of allowances and prerequisites. These allowances are offered to employees for the expenses they bear during work. There are three types of allowances:

  • Fully-taxable allowances

The fully taxable allowances are not exempted from Income Tax. You have to pay the full tax applicable to these allowances.

  • Potentially taxable allowances

The partially taxable allowances are exempted from the Income Tax to a limit.

  • Fully Exempt allowances

The non-taxable allowances are exempted from the Income Tax fully. But, these are usually offered to government employees.

Let’s see how these allowances can impact your take-home salary.

Fully-taxable allowancesPotentially taxable allowancesFully Exempt allowances
Basic SalaryHouse Rent AllowanceFood Allowance
Dearness AllowanceLeave Travel AllowanceChildren education allowance
Special AllowanceCar Maintenance AllowanceConveyance Allowance
Overtime AllowanceDaily Allowance
BonusAcademic and Research Allowance


Wealth cafe Advice

As soon a person joins an organization, s/he is provided with the breakup of the fixed salary and allowances. However, most of the time individuals are ignorant about taxation. But allowances can help employees save taxes provided they are placed in the salary intelligently.

Salary restructuring is not possible in every organization, but if possible, employees should try to include allowances that are non-taxable or are partially taxable in nature. This way they can reduce the tax liability to some extent.

Thus, one should take note that through intelligent planning one can use allowances to save taxes and reduce the tax outflow.

What is Form 16/Form 16A - How does it help?

A TDS certificate is a document issued by the deductor to the deductee. Here, the deductor is someone who deducts tax at the source of the payment, while the deductee is the person who receives the tax-deducted payment.

However, there are two types of TDS certificates issued by the deductor -

  1. Form 16: It is issued by an employer to all its employees, incorporating details of the tax deductions made by the employer in the given financial year.
  2. Form 16A: It is issued in all other cases besides salary.

To under these two certificates, consider the following example -

  • Mr. Hemant works as a salaried employee at a reputed company in Mumbai. The tax deductions of his salary are at 15 percent. The company will thus provide him with Form 16 describing the amount of salary paid to him and the tax deducted from it.
  • In another case, if Mr. Hemant was a working professional who receives professional fees from a company that is subjected to TDS, then he will be provided with Form 16A.

How can you use Form 16 to your advantage?

  1. Help in filing Income Tax Return
  2. Proof of Income
  3. Document stating how your tax was computed and check any anomalies
  4. One place document to see all your tax-saving investments
  5. Loan assessment and approval
  6. Visa issuance
  7. On switching jobs: Helps the next employer compute your tax liabilities on the basis of what your previous employer has already deducted
  8. Since it is a document of the tax credit, you can check for any overpaid taxes, which will help you in claiming refunds. 

FAQs on Form 16

  1. How is Form 16 generated?

The TDS CPC is responsible for the generation of Form 16 on the basis of the quarterly TDS and TCS statements processing. A deductor will be required to raise a request for the same on the TRACES website.

  1. When are the due dates for the issuance of Form 16 and Form 16A certificates?

Form 16 is issued annually and is supposed to be issued by the 31st of May. On the other hand, Form 16A is issued quarterly and is issued within 15 days from the due date of furnishing the statement of tax deducted at source as per rule 31A.

  1. Can I get a duplicate Form 16 certificate if I misplace the original one?

Yes, you have to get in touch with your deductor to get the duplicate certificate issued

  1. If I am a pensioner, who will issue my Form 16?

If you are a pensioner, the bank through which you are receiving your pension will issue Form 16. Your previous employer will not be issuing Form 16 in this case.

  1. Can I download my Form 16 certificate without enrolling myself on the TRACES website?

No, you have to be a registered user on the TRACES website to be able to download your Form 16 and Form 16A.

  1. How can I get Form 16?

You will need to contact your employer in order to receive Form 16 are an employer, it is compulsory for you to issue Form 16 to employees. 

TDS Rate Chart for AY 2021-22 and FY 2020-21

Due to the Covid-19 situation, the rates of TDS on payments made to resident Indians have been reduced by 25% for the period starting from 14th May 2020 to 31st March 2021. However, there shall be no reduction in rates, where tax is required to be deducted or collected at a higher rate due to non-furnishing of PAN/Aadhaar.

The following tables list the various TDS rates applicable to resident and non-resident payments as well as TDS rates on domestic and foreign companies in India. Any person paying income is responsible to deduct tax at source and depositing TDS within the stipulated due date.


SectionNature of paymentThreshold LimitApplicable from 01/04/2020 to 13/05/2020Applicable from 14/05/2020 to 31/03/2021
   ResidentNon-resident *ResidentNon-resident *
  Rs. TDS Rate (%)TDS Rate (%)TDS Rate (%)TDS Rate (%)
192Salaries-Normal slab rateNormal slab rateNormal slab rateNormal slab rate
192APremature withdrawal from EPF5000010101010
194AInterest (Banking co., co-operative society engaged in banking, post office)4000010-7.5-
194DInsurance commission

- Other than Company

- Company













194FRepurchase units by MFs-20201520
194IRent of - Plant/Machinery /Equipment

- Land and Building/Furniture & Fixture









194IATransfer of certain immovable property other than agricultural land50 lakh1-0.75-
194IBRent by Individual/HUF50000 per month5-3.75-
194JProfessional Fees3000010-7.5-
194JTechnical Fees (w.e.f. 01.04.2020)300002-1.5-
194NPayment of a certain amount in cash1 Crore2222
195Income of Investment made by an NRI--20-20
195Long-term capital gain

- Under Section - 115E/


- Any Other Gains

















195Short-term capital gain - 111A--15-15
195Fees for technical services--10-10
195Interest income payable by Govt./Indian concern (other than section 194LB or 194LC)--20-20
195Any Other Income - Other than Company

                 - Company













196AIncome in respect –

- of units of a Mutual Fund specified under clause (23D) of section 10; or

- from the specified company referred to in the Explanation to clause (35) of section 10


* TDS rate shall be increased by applicable surcharge and Health & Education Cess.

Note: In case of non-furnishing of PAN/Aadhaar by deductee, TDS will be charged at a normal rate or 20% (5% in case of section 194-O), whichever is higher.

TCS Rate Chart for F.Y. 2020-21 (A.Y: 2021-22)


Note: In case of non-furnishing of PAN/Aadhaar by collectee, TCS will be charged at twice of the normal rate applicable or 5% {1% in case of sale of any goods (given in the last point) of the value exceeding 50 Lacs}, whichever is higher.


In case you are confused about TDS Return Filing, feel free to consult the experts at Wealthcafe.

All about Tax Deducted at Source (TDS)

An individual can earn income from various sources. Income tax is a direct tax that they need to pay, depending on which tax bracket their total income falls in. According to the Indian tax system, Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) is an essential term in taxation that has a significant bearing on the taxpayers. It is a means of collecting income tax by the government and offers convenience to the deductee as it is deducted automatically.  

What is TDS?

The TDS full form is Tax Deducted at Source (TDS). The system was introduced by the Income Tax Department of India. In this, people who are responsible for making payments like salary, commission, professional fees, interest, or rent are liable to deduct a specified percent of tax before making the full payment. In simple words, the system allows tax deduction right at the source.

To understand the TDS better, consider the following example.

Assume that the nature of payment is professional fees on which the rate specified for TDS is 10 percent (To know more - click here). An ABC organization pays INR 50,000 as professional fees to Ms. XYZ. In this case, the ABC organization is liable to deduct INR 5000 and make a net payment of INR 45,000 to Ms. XYZ. The INR 5000 deducted by the company will be deposited directly to the credit of the government.

What are the rules for Tax Deducted at Source?

There are rules concerning not just income tax return filing but also concerning TDS. If an individual or organization meets these rules adequately, they will be able to avoid penalties, fees, or interest. The main rules related to TDS are:

  1. One of the first essential rules is that Tax Deducted at Source needs to be deducted at the time when the payment either gets due or when the actual amount is made, whichever is earlier
  2. Delay in deduction of TDS will attract interest @ 1% per month until the tax is deducted [2]
  3. Every person, whether an employer or otherwise, needs to credit the tax deducted to the government’s account by the 7th day of the following month
  4. In case of late or non-payment of TDS, an interest @ 1.5% per month will be levied until the tax has not been deposited

How to apply for a TDS refund?

A major misconception that many individuals have is that an excess TDS refund is different from that of an income tax refund. However, according to the Indian Tax System, there is only one type of return that you claim at the time of filing your annual income tax return.

For filing your TDS refund, it is compulsory to quote bank account details such as account number and IFSC code. Failing to do so will not generate a valid file for you. In case if someone deducts more tax than he should have deducted, then there will be an income tax refund, which can be claimed upon the filing of the annual income tax return (ITR).

For example, you own a transport agency, and yours is a proprietorship firm. You presented an invoice for Rs. 20,000/- and the person paying freight paid you a net amount of Rs. 19,600/- (after deducting tax of Rs. 1,000/- @ 2% under section 194C). In this case, the tax will be deducted at 2% instead of 1% and hence deducted excess TDS by Rs. 200/-. This excess TDS of Rs. 200 will arise as a refund in the income tax return, according to the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Ensure Proper TDS Deduction

Tax Deducted at Source is an essential legal obligation for everyone earning an income. It ensures that there is no tax evasion as it is levied at the source itself. Every employer, as well as individuals, should give proper attention to meeting with this deduction. It is because non-filing or late filing of Tax Deducted at Source will attract penalties and fines.

Along with being aware of how to file ITR, Individuals at their end should share proper documentation with the employer as well as check online for any updates in TDS provisions. It will ensure that your employer makes the right Tax Deducted at Source declaration from your salary income.

Wealthcafe Advice

There is only a single refund i.e. Income Tax Refund which is an excess of tax already paid by way of TDS, TCS, advance tax or self-assessment tax less tax on your total income. You can get a refund of additional tax only after filing your income tax return for that particular year.

In other words, there is no other method to get a refund other than by filing an Income Tax Return.

National Pension System – FAQs

Ques 1. Who can join NPS?

Ans. Any Indian citizen between 18 and 60 years can join NPS. The only condition is that the person must comply with know your customer (KYC) norms.


Ques 2. Is saving with the National Pension System allowed for an NRI?

Ans. Yes, an NRI can join NPS. However, the account will be closed if there is a change in the citizenship status of the NRI.


Ques 3. What are the documents needed for opening an NPS account?

Ans. You should fill the subscriber registration form and submit it along with proof of identity, address, and date of birth to the POP


Ques 4. Can an individual invest in more than one National Pension Scheme?

Ans. No, the scheme comes with a unique PRAN for each individual and thus does not allow multiple accounts for a single person. In fact, there is no need to open a second account as NPS is portable across sectors and locations.


Ques 5. What is a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN)?

Ans. Every NPS subscriber is issued a card with a 12-digit unique number called Permanent Retirement Account Number or PRAN.


Ques 6. How do I join NPS?

Ans. You should open an NPS account with entities known as Point of Presence (POP). Most banks, both private and public sector, are enrolled as POPs. Several financial institutions also act as POPs. The authorized branches of a POP called point of presence service providers (POP-SPs), act as the collection points.


Ques 7. How would I know if my bank serves as a PoP for the scheme or not?

Ans. You can check the list of authorized PoPs at NPS’s official website to confirm whether your bank serves as a PoP or not. https://www.npscra.nsdl.co.in/pop-sp.php


Ques 8. What is the minimum contribution in NPS?

Ans. You have to contribute a minimum of Rs 6,000 to your Tier-I account in a financial year.


Ques 9. What will happen if I don’t make the minimum contribution?

Ans. If you do not contribute the minimum amount, your account will be frozen. You can unfreeze the account by visiting the POP and pay the minimum required amount and a penalty of Rs 100.


Ques 10. Will the government also contribute to my NPS account?

Ans. No, the government will not contribute to your NPS account.


Ques 11. Who manages the money invested in NPS?

Ans. The money invested in NPS is managed by PFRDA-registered Pension Fund Managers. At the moment, there are eight pension fund managers: ICICI Prudential Pension Fund, LIC Pension Fund, Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund, Reliance Capital Pension Fund, SBI Pension Fund, UTI Retirement Solutions Pension Fund, HDFC Pension Management Company, and DSP BlackRock Pension Fund Managers.


Ques 12. What are the investment choices available in NPS?

Ans. The National Pension System or NPS offers two choices:

1) Active Choice: This option allows the investor to decide how the money should be invested in different assets.

2) Auto choice or lifecycle fund: This is the default option that invests money automatically in line with the age of the subscriber.


Ques 13. What are the investment options available under Active Choice?

Ans. The Active Choice offers three funds or investment options: Asset Class E (invests 50 percent in stocks); Asset Class C (invests in fixed income instruments other than government securities); Asset Class G (invests only in government securities). An investor can choose one of these funds or opt for a combination of them.


Ques 14. Can I change my investment choices?

Ans. Yes, you can change your investment choices once in a financial year for both Tier-I and Tier-II accounts.


Ques 15. Can I change my scheme and pension, fund managers?

Ans. Yes, you can change your scheme preference and pension fund manager. You can even change your investment option (active and auto choices).


Ques 16. What are Tier-I and Tier-II accounts?

Ans. NPS offers two accounts: Tier-I and Tier-II accounts. Tier-I is a mandatory account and Tier-II is voluntary. The big difference between the two is the withdrawal of money invested in them. You cannot withdraw the entire money from the Tier-I account till your retirement. Even on retirement, there are restrictions on withdrawal on the Tier-I account. The subscriber is free to withdraw the entire money from the Tier-II account.


Ques 17. Can I have different pension fund managers and investment option for Tier I and Tier II account?

Ans. Yes, you can select different pension fund managers and investment options for your NPS Tier I and Tier II accounts.


Ques 18. What are the tax benefits available for NPS?

Ans. An employee’s contribution is eligible for a tax deduction --up to 10 percent of the salary (basic plus DA) – under Section 80CCD(1) of the Income Tax Act within the overall ceiling of Rs 1.5 lakh allowed under Section 80C and Section 80CCE.

The employer’s contribution to NPS is exempted under Section 80CCD (2).

Moreover, individuals can claim an additional deduction of up to Rs 50,000 under Section 80CCD (1B), which is in addition to Rs 1.5 lakh permitted under Section 80C.

A self-employed person can also contribute 10 percent of his gross income under Section 80CCD (1) in NPS.


Ques 19. When can I withdraw money from NPS?

Ans. NPS is a pension product. So, you are expected to stay invested until your retirement. At 60, you must use at least 40 percent of the corpus to buy an annuity income from a PFRDA-listed insurance company. You have the option to withdraw 60 percent of the corpus tax-free.


Ques20. Can I defer withdrawing the lump sum amount at 60?

Ans. Yes, you can defer withdrawing the lump sum amount in NPS until you are 70 years old.


Ques 21. What if I want to take the money out when I am 60?

Ans. If you are getting out of the scheme before you are 60 years old, you can only withdraw 20 percent of the accumulated corpus in NPS. You must use 80 percent of the corpus to buy an annuity.

Ques 22. What happens to the money if I discontinue the scheme?

Ans. If you discontinue your investment, your account will be frozen. You can reactivate the account only if you make the minimum contribution required along with the penalty.


Ques 23. What happens if the subscriber dies before 60 years?

Ans. If the subscriber dies before 60 years, the entire accumulated wealth would be paid to the nominee/legal heir of the subscriber.


Ques 24. How do I withdraw the money from NPS?

Ans. You will have to submit the withdrawal application to the POP along with relevant documents. POP would authenticate the documents and forward them to the Central Record-keeping Agency (CRA) and NSDL. CRA would register your claim and forward you the application form along with details of documents that need to be submitted. Once you complete the necessary procedure, CRA processes the application and settles the account.


Ques 25. What are the documents to be submitted along with withdrawal forms?

Ans. You have to submit the following documents along with the withdrawal forms:

  1. PRAN card (original)
  2. Attested copy of proof of identity
  3. Attested copy of proof of address
  4. A canceled cheque


You can also read the following articles to learn more about NPS:

  1. NPS: National Pension Scheme

  2. How to apply for NPS?

  3. Tax benefits of NPS

  4. NPS Withdrawal Rules

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