Employees' Provident Fund Vs General Provident Fund Vs PPF: Interest rate, lock-in period and withdrawal rules explained
There are three major provident fund accounts including Employees' Provident Fund or EPF, General Provident Fund or GPF and Public Provident Fund or PPF account. Of these accounts, EPF is a compulsory retirement saving option as the amount is deducted from the wages of salaried individuals.
Employees' Provident Fund Vs General Provident Fund Vs PPF: For salaried class, provident fund accounts are considered to be the most secure investment as they are administered and managed by the Central Board of Trustees comprising representatives from the government, employers and employees. The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) also assists this board in its activities, as it works under the government's direct jurisdiction and is managed through the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
There are three major provident fund accounts including Employees' Provident Fund or EPF, General Provident Fund or GPF and Public Provident Fund or PPF account. Of these accounts, EPF is a compulsory retirement saving option as the amount is deducted from the wages of salaried individuals. GPF is also a provident fund account, but this is available only for government employees. PPF account, however, is offered by bank and post offices, extending income tax benefits.
Notably, interest rates on these provident fund accounts are revised by the government from time to time. In February 2019, EPFO increased the interest rate on EPF to 8.65 per cent for the current financial year. Here are other key aspects to know about EPF and GPF accounts:
Companies which employ over 20 people are required to compulsorily make contributions towards the EPF. Under this acount, both employee as well as employer have to make equal contributions towards EPF.
An EPF account can be closed while quitting job permanently. This account can also be transferred while changing companies till an individual reaches his/her retirement age. Employees are also allowed to make partial withdrawal from EPF accounts for purchase/construction of house, repayment of loan, non-receipt of wage for two months, marriage of self/daughter/son/brother, for medical treatment of family members etc.
Under this GPF account, a government employee would become a member by contributing a certain percentage of his/her salary. According to GPF norms, all temporary government servants after a continuous service of one year, all re-employed pensioners (other than those eligible for admission to the contributory provident fund) and all permanent government servants are eligible to subscribe to GPF, which earns an interest rate of 8 per cent.
A employee can subscribe to GPF account on monthly basis except during the period when he/she is under suspension. The subscription to the GPF account are stopped three months prior to the date of retirement of an employee.
Public Provident Fund (PPF) scheme is a popular long term investment option backed by the central government, which offers safety with attractive interest rate and returns that are fully exempted from Tax. Investors can start their account with a minimum investment of Rs 500 to maximum Rs 1,50,000 in one financial year, They can get the facilities such as loan, withdrawal and extension of account under it.
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Public Provident Fund (PPF) account can be opened by resident Indian Individuals and individuals on behalf of minors. Some of the banks also Online PPF Account opening facility for their customers.