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  • PPF - Public Provident Fund

    What is Public Provident Fund(PPF)Scheme?

    The PPF(Public Provident Fund) Scheme, 1968 is a tax-free savings avenue that was introduced by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in India in the year 1968. Interest earned on deposits in the PPF account are not taxable. Deposits made towards PPF accounts can be claimed as tax deductions. This makes the PPF Scheme one of the most tax efficient instruments in India. It was launched to encourage savings among Indians in general, especially to encourage them to create a retirement corpus.

    Table 1. List of PPF Forms
    List of PPF Forms/th> Description
    Form A To open a Public Provident Fund Account (PPF Account)
    Form B To make deposits into / repay loans taken against a PPF account
    Form C To make partial withdrawals from a PPF account
    Form D To request a loan against a PPF account
    Form E To add a nominee to a PPF account
    Form F To make changes to PPF account nomination information
    Form G To claim funds in a PPF account by a nominee/legal heir
    Form H To extend the maturity period of a PPF account

    PPF Accounts

    People can deposit funds in PPF accounts (Public Provident Fund accounts) for a fixed period of time to earn returns on their savings. The PPF of interest rate for the financial year 2015 - 2016 was 8.7%. This rate has been revised in the Union Budget 2016 for FY: 2016 - 17 to 8.1%. This rate has been revised in the Union Budget 2017 for FY: 2017 - 18 to 8%.

    PPF
    Figure 1. PPF - Public Provident Fund

    Since this scheme was launched to encourage savings across income classes, minimum deposit requirements are very low and affordable. They are also tax-free accounts, easily accessible, safe (being backed by the government) and simple to understand, making them a popular investment avenue for a large majority of individuals in India.

    PPF accounts can be opened at any nationalized, authorized bank and authorized branches / post offices. PPF accounts can be opened at specific private banks as well. These accounts can be opened by filling out the required forms, submitting the relevant documents and depositing the minimum pay-in at such branches/offices that have been authorized for the same.

    Interest rates are set and announced by the government of India. Interest is calculated for a financial year according to the rate announced for the said year i.e. unlike bank FDs the rates are not fixed for the entire tenure of the holding. The maximum amount that can be deposited in the account is also subject to change.

    The period from April 1st - March 31st i.e. a financial year is considered to be a deposit year for a PPF account. E.g. for an account opened in November 2010 - 2011, Year 1 will be April 1st 2011 - March 31st 2012.

    Key features of PPF Scheme

    The main things to note about PPF accounts are outlined below.

    Table 2. Features of PPF Scheme
    Interest rates 7.6% per annum (compounded annually)
    Mature Period 15 years
    Initial investment/deposit Rs.100
    Annual Deposit amount Rs.500 - Rs.1.5 lakhs per year
    Deposit frequency every year, for 15 years
    Deposit modes Via cash, cheque,PO, DD, online funds transfer
    Nomination Allowed
    Loan facility Available from the 3rd financial year
    Extension/Renewal Can be extended within 1 year of maturity for further 5 years and so on
    Joint accounts Not allowed.
    Withdrawals
    • Permitted from the 7th financial year
    • Complete withdrawal of funds can be made only at maturity
    Tax advantages
    • Interests are tax-free.
    • Deposited amounts are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act
    Fund transfer
    • Easily transferred between bank branches or post offices for free.
    • Funds/accounts cannot be transferred between people
    • Interest rates: Interest rates are announced by the central government periodically, usually annually. Interest earned is compounded yearly. (The current rate of interest on a PPF account is fixed at 7.6% p.a.)
    • Tenure: 15 years; account continuance is allowed beyond maturity for 5 years at every renewal, with or without making additional deposits.
    • Initial investment/deposit: Rs.100 to open the account but a minimum amount of Rs.500 in a financial year.
    • Annual Deposit amount: Rs.500 - Rs.1.5 lakhs per year (can be revised as per government directive)
    • Deposit frequency: A deposit has to be made every year, for 15 years, to keep the account active. Failure to make the minimum annual investment will render the account inactive.
    • Deposit modes: Via cash, cheque, PO, DD, online funds transfer; as a one-time deposit or up to 12 installments in a financial year.
    • Withdrawals: Partial premature PPF withdrawals can be made every year from year 7; withdrawals are subject to conditions. Complete withdrawal of funds can be made only at maturity.
    • Tax advantages: Interests are tax-free and deposited amounts are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. Withdrawals are exempt from wealth tax.
    • Nomination: Allowed; on opening the account or after.
    • Fund transfer: Funds/accounts cannot be transferred between people but can be easily transferred between bank branches or post offices for free.
    • Loan facility: Loan facility can be availed against funds held in the PPF account from the third financial year.
    • Renewal: Renewal or extension of the scheme is allowed, for a period of 5 years at a time and can be extended within 1 year of maturity.
    • Joint accounts: Not allowed.
    Credit Card

    Benefits of investing in PPF Scheme

    Some of the key advantages of PPF accounts are stated below.

    • Attractive long-term investments: With a deposit period of 15 years and a lock-in period of 7 years, these accounts serve long-term investment goals. With interest rates compounded annually, effective returns tend to be more attractive vis-a-vis bank FDs.
    • Useful for retirement planning: Long-tenures, compounded, tax-free returns and capital protection make this an ideal option for building a retirement corpus.
    • Tax-free returns: Tax-free interest and withdrawals and tax-deductible investments.
    • Low-risk: Being government-backed, there is low risk of default.
    • Easily accessible: PPF accounts can be opened at nationalized, public banks or post offices and select private banks, all of which have wide reach. Accounts can be opened online as well.
    • No attachment: PPF funds can’t be attached under court order or laid claim to by creditors.

    PPF Scheme Account Rules and Regulations

    There are a number of rules and regulations governing the Public Provident Fund Scheme, 1968. These pertain to eligibility and documentation requirements, opening, maintenance and operation of a PPF account including loan facilities, withdrawals, closure and extension of accounts, among other things. Key rules have been discussed in detail below.

    Eligibility - who can open PPF Account?

    • Only one PPF account can be opened per person. Resident Indians, 18 years or older, can open a Public Provident Fund Account. There is no upper age limit for opening this account.
    • Accounts can be opened for minors. Minors are those below the age of 18 years. However, the maximum limit of Rs.1.5 lakhs per year applies to deposits made in the minor and the major’s/guardian’s account, collectively. Grandparents cannot open an account in the names of their minor grandchildren.
    • Non-resident Indians (NRIs) cannot open a PPF account. However, account-holders who leave the country and obtain non-resident status after having opened a PPF account can continue to maintain their accounts until it matures i.e. until the end of the account’s 15 year term. NRIs are restricted from extending account tenures at maturity.
    • HUFs cannot open a PPF account, effective 2005. Those accounts opened by HUFs before May 13, 2005 can be continued until maturity without further extensions. An individual cannot open an account for an HUF (Hindu Undivided Family).
    • Foreigners cannot open a PPF account.

    How to Open a PPF Account?

    PPF accounts can be opened either by visiting a post office or bank-branch or online via internet banking. Operating accounts online is gaining increasing popularity among the masses owing to the convenience it offers. An account can be opened for Rs.100 but the total deposit for the year should be a minimum of Rs.500.

    • At a post office or bank

      Accounts can be opened by visiting a post office or branch of a bank that has been authorized for this purpose. The required forms can be obtained, filled in and submitted along with the required documents (mentioned above). An initial deposit has to be made to open the account. Banks and post offices act as agents for the government under whose purview the PPF scheme falls.

    • Online

      Accounts can also be opened online by visiting a bank’s official website or through third-party financial services providers’ sites that provide such services. Opening accounts online with a bank is primarily subject to the terms and conditions laid down by the bank. By opening an account online, users save time, effort and travel costs. Many banks offer additional facilities such as linking savings accounts, viewing online account statements and online fund transfers.

      Traditionally, accounts were opened primarily through post offices but with online banking gaining popularity, more investors are opting to open accounts with banks which try to woo customers with value added services such as instant account balances and mobile updates.

    Public Provident Fund is a 15-year scheme that is popular among those who wish to take advantage of the tax-free returns and guaranteed interest earnings. As PPF falls under the debt-oriented asset class, there is no exposure to risk based on the performance of equities on the stock market. As the tax filing season is coming up, there are many who would like to open a PPF account. Did you know that anyone can open a PPF account, even those who already have an EPF account? Let’s find out how to open a PPF account.

    • Bank or post office: It can be opened in an authorised bank branch or a post office. A PPF account can be transferred from a bank to a post office and vice versa.
    • Investor/account holder: An individual can open a PPF account for oneself or on the behalf of a minor as the legal guardian.
    • Deposit limit: The minimum amount one can deposit in order to keep the account active is Rs.500 and the maximum deposit limit in a year is Rs.1.5 lakh. A maximum of 12 deposits can be made in a year. The deposits have to be made before the 5th of every month in order to obtain interest for the whole of the month.
    • Tax savings: The combined maximum limit of self and minor accounts is Rs.1.5 lakh per year. If the deposit exceeds the set limit then the excess sum will not be eligible for tax deduction or interest earnings. The excess sum of money will be refunded to the investor without interest.
    • Account limit: The maximum number of PPF accounts allowed per person is one. An individual cannot open a PPF account in the post office and another in the bank. If a person holds 2 PPF accounts, then he or she can combine it to make one account or else the extra account will not carry any interest. To combine two PPF accounts under one name, the investor has to get the approval of the Department of Economic Affairs under the Ministry of Finance.
    • Interest: The interest is calculated on the lowest available balance in the account at the end of the 5th day of the month and the end of the month. The interest rate on PPF is fixed by the government depending on the return of the government securities. It is advisable to deposit a lump-sum amount at the start of a financial year.
    • Premature closure: A PPF account can be closed prematurely after the completion of 5 financial years. The premature closure is subject to certain conditions like the financial need of the investor or his dependents as a result of a serious ailment. The investor/account holder has to furnish documents to support the diagnosis and treatment of the serious ailment. The same applies if the account holder wants to withdraw the proceeds and close his/her account prematurely for the purpose of higher education.
    • PPF tenure and extension: This 15-year scheme can be extended for however long one wants but only in 5-year blocks.
    • Loans and partial withdrawals: Investors can also use their PPF accounts to get loans or make partial withdrawals.
    • Nomination: The investor, at the time of opening a PPF account can nominate a dependent by filling out Form-E along with Form-A which is the PPF application form.
    • Court attachment: The court cannot order a person's PPF account to be used to claim outstanding dues by the debtors. However, income tax authorities can order such an attachment.

    How to transfer your PPF Account?

    As already mentioned, a PPF account can be opened either at an authorised bank or post office. The account holder is allowed to transfer the account from the bank to post office and vice versa based on his or her convenience. There are various reasons for wanting to transfer one's PPF account such as:

    • Unlike a bank, the post office does not have the facility for account holders to make deposits by transferring funds online. Hence account holders may consider switching their PPF accounts to a bank for the sake of convenience rather than visit a post office every time one wants to make a deposit.
    • In case an account holder is relocating to another state or city and will not be able to visit the bank branch at which he or she had originally opened the account, then transferring the account to a post office at the new location makes sense.
    • Account holders can transfer their accounts from bank to bank and post office to post office if they are dissatisfied with the customer service.

    So How does one transfer their PPF Account?

    • To transfer the account within the same bank or post office: The account holder has to submit a form requesting the switch to a preferred branch. This process can take anywhere from 1 to 7 days.
    • To transfer the account from bank to post office and vice versa: The account holder has to visit the existing branch of the bank or post office with the PPF account passbook and submit a transfer request form with the address of the new branch to which he or she wants to transfer the account. The existing branch will start the process of transfer upon receiving the application form. The new branch will receive a certified copy of the account, nomination form, original account opening application form, a DD or cheque of the outstanding balance and PPF book from the existing branch. The account holder will have to submit a new account opening application form at the new branch. He or she will need recently taken passport-size photographs, Aadhaar card, PAN card, etc. to submit at the new branch for the KYC process.

    At the end of the transfer process, a new passbook will be provided to the account holder. Although the account is transferred from one branch to another, the loan facility and premature withdrawal facility will not be affected.

    Want to extend your PPF account after it matures?

    Once the PPF account matures, the account holder can choose to withdraw the proceeds and close the account, extend the term with fresh deposits, or extend the account without making any fresh deposits. As previously stated, PPF accounts can be extended after the lock-in period of 15 years. The extension can be done in blocks of 5 years after the PPF attains maturity.

    • Extension without fresh deposits: If the account has been extended without making fresh deposits for one year then the account holder cannot make any fresh contribution during the remainder of the extended period of 5 years. The interest will be calculated on the available balance.
    • Extension with fresh deposits: If the account has to be extended with fresh deposits then the account holder has to intimate the Account Office before the expiry of the first year of extension. The account holder has to submit Form-H to make fresh deposits or else the deposits will not be eligible for interest earnings or tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
    • Partial withdrawals during extension: Account holders can make partial withdrawals during the extended period. However, it is subject certain terms and conditions. The account holder can make one partial withdrawal per year limited to the available balance. The account holder has to submit Form-C to make partial withdrawals and the total amount of partial withdrawals during the extended period should not exceed 60%. This limit is applicable for all blocks of 5-year extensions.
    • If an account holder has not reached his or her retirement age at the end of the 15-year lock-in period, it is advisable to extend the PPF account until the person reaches 60 years of age.

    Documents needed to open PPF Account

    Documents required to open a PPF account are KYC documents such as identity proof, address proof and signature proof. These commonly include the latest version of a person’s

    • Passport, PAN Card, Aadhar Card, Driving License, Voter’s ID, Employer’s letter, Utility Bill, Rental/Lease Agreement, Bank Account Statements, Ration Cards, Signed Cheque
    • Photographs
    • The account opening form, along with nomination form if nominees are being named.
    • This is not an exhaustive list. Banks may request additional documents if necessary. In case of minors, age proof will be required i.e. the minor’s birth certificate or school certificate.

    How to revive a discontinued PPF account?

    Public Provident Fund (PPF) is a long-term savings scheme in which one can invest a minimum of Rs.500 to a maximum of Rs.1.5 lakh per year so as to ensure the account remains active for the lock-in period of 15 years.

    Important things to know about a discontinued PPF account

    If a PPF account holder does not deposit the minimum required amount in a financial year then the account will be discontinued. Furthermore, the PPF subscriber can get the investment back only upon the completion of the maturity period. Fortunately, the interest on the balance will resume each year although the PPF account has been discontinued The interest rate of the Public Provident Fund is set by the government every year.

    Even though the discontinued PPF account cannot be closed until the completion of the lock-in period, if a subscriber chooses to revive the account, he or she can do so before reaching the maturity date. The maturity date of a PPF account can be found in the passbook.

    In the year 2016, the government made an amendment to the PPF regulations wherein a PPF account holder can opt for premature closure of the account under certain conditions. The account can be prematurely closed if the PPF subscriber or his/her dependents are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or for the purpose of higher education. Premature closure of PPF is allowed only after 5 years and the account is subject to a lower interest rate. A PPF account that has been discontinued loses the option of premature closure.

    PPF subscribers can take a loan against the account balance after the third year up to the sixth year. Unfortunately, a discontinued PPF account loses this option as well.

    Partial withdrawals from a PPF account is allowed after the seventh year but a discontinued PPF account does not have such an option until it is revived.

    If a PPF subscriber wishes to open a new account in addition to the discontinued one, the regulations do not allow anyone to hold more than one PPF account.

    How can one revive a discontinued PPF account?

    The PPF subscriber or account holder has to submit a written request to the bank or post office where the account was opened in order to revive it. Further, he or she has to pay a penalty fee of Rs.50 each financial year i.e. for however long the deposit wasn't made. Rs.500 deposit has to be made for each year as arrear payment. Also, a minimum of Rs.500 deposit has to be made for the year in which the account is revived as a gesture of subscription.

    In conclusion, PPF is a good bet for long-term investment as the interest on investment compounds annually over a period of 15-30 years (if one chooses to extend the tenure by a block of 5 years post the lock-in period). PPF offers guaranteed returns. Thus, to achieve your long-term financial goals, invest in PPF and if you have a discontinued PPF account already, revive it immediately.

    Authorized Banks for PPF Accounts in India

    PPF accounts can be opened in authorized banks and authorized bank-branches only. Although an account is held at a bank’s branch, it is still a government-run scheme. Fund rules apply irrespective of where the account is held. PPF account transfers can be effected between bank-branches.

    List of Banks 2018 (Public And Private Sector Banks) where PPF Accounts can be opened

    Alternatively, authorised branches are listed on every bank’s website or are made available at your nearest branch.

    Public sector banks Private sector banks

    State Bank of India PPF

    State Bank of Travancore PPF

    State Bank of Hyderabad PPF

    State Bank of Mysore PPF

    State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur PPF

    State Bank of Patiala PPF

    Allahabad Bank PPF

    Bank of Baroda PPF

    Bank of India PPF

    Bank of Maharashtra PPF

    Canara Bank PPF

    Central Bank of India PPF

    Corporation Bank PPF

    Dena Bank PPF

    IDBI Bank PPF

    Indian Overseas Bank PPF

    Oriental Bank of Commerce PPF

    Punjab National Bank PPF

    Union Bank of India PPF

    United Bank of India PPF

    Andhra Bank PPF

    Vijaya Bank PPF

    Punjab and Sind Bank PPF

    UCO Bank PPF

    ICICI Bank

    Axis Bank

    PPF Forms

    There are various forms pertaining to PPF accounts. They are Forms A to H, each of which are issued for a specific purpose.

    • Form A - To open a Public Provident Fund Account (PPF Account)

      This is the form issued to those opening a new PPF account. It will require key particulars of the account holder such as name, address, PAN card and signature to be filled in. The amount being deposited will also have to be specified. In case of minors, particulars such as the minor’s name, guardian’s name and relationship with the applicant will be required. If the account is being opened by an agent, the agent’s name will have to be filled in.

    • Form B - To make deposits into / repay loans taken against a PPF account

      This is used to deposit or pay money into an account. These deposits or pay-ins may be investments, repayments for a loan taken against the account or payment of penalties to reactivate an inactive account. Investments have to be made every year to keep the account active. Loans can be availed from year 3 to year 6, counted from the year of account opening. Amounts can be deposited via cash, cheque, PO, DD or internet banking. This has to be specified in the pay-in slip. In case accounts are opened and deposits made through an agent, the agent’s name and code has to be entered in the form.

    • Form C - To make partial withdrawals from a PPF account

      Certain sums of money can be withdrawn from the account from year 7 of opening the account. This form is an application to withdraw such amounts. The form requires the applicant to fill in the account number and the amount to be withdrawn as well as a declaration stating no other amounts were withdrawn during the same financial year.

    • Form D - To request a loan against a PPF account

      Account holders can utilise the loan facility provided under the scheme from year 3 to year 6 of an active account. Details to be specified are the PPF account number, the amount being borrowed and an undertaking that the amount will be repaid with interest within 3 years as per the rules.

    • Form E - To add a nominee to a PPF account

      More than one person can be nominated for a single PPF account. The names of such persons, along with their addresses and relation to the account holder has to be specified in the form. In case more than one nominee is stated, the percentage of funds that can be claimed by each nominee will have to also have to be specified. Nominations cannot be made for minors' PPF accounts.

    • Form F - To make changes to PPF account nomination information

      This form is to be used to cancel or alter nominees for a particular PPF account. The account holder will have to specify when the nominee being canceled/replaced/altered was named so. Nominees can be added, removed at any time during the PPF account tenure. The percentage allocated to each nominee can also be altered.

    • Form G - To claim funds in a PPF account by a nominee/legal heir

      When an account holder dies, those whom he/she stated as nominees or his/her legal heirs, can claim the amount in his/her PPF account. To do so, Form G will have to be filled out with required details such as the name(s) of the nominee(s)/heir(s) of the account holder. The form asks for confirmation from the claimant that the death certificate of the account holder has been enclosed.

    • Form H - To extend the maturity period of a PPF account

      The standard tenure for a PPF account is 15 years after which the investor can withdraw funds held therein, completely and freely. However, if a PPF account holder wishes to extend the term of the account beyond 15 years, he/she can do so for a further 5 years by submitting this form. The account number and date of account opening will have to be specified.

    Interest Rates for PPF Accounts

    The Public Provident Fund Scheme is a fixed-income, debt investment offered by the government. It is the central government who sets and announces the latest PPF interest rates. The rate currently stands at 7.6% p.a. for the year 2017-2018

    The table below represents PPF interest rates for the last 16 years.

    Financial Year Interest rate (p.a.)
    2017-2018 7.6%
    2016 – 2017 8.1%
    2015 – 2016 8.7%
    2014 - 2015 8.7%
    2013 - 2014 8.7%
    2012 - 2013 8.8%
    2011 - 2012 8.6%
    2010 - 2011 8.0%
    2009 - 2010 8.0%
    2008 - 2009 8.0%
    2007 - 2008 8.0%
    2006 - 2007 8.0%
    2005 - 2006 8.0%
    2004 - 2005 8.0%
    2003 - 2004 8.0%
    2002 - 2003 9.0%
    2001 - 2002 9.5%
    2000 - 2001 11.0%

    Interest is compounded annually and credited at the end of every financial year. Interest is calculated as per the rate announced for a particular financial year i.e. the rate does not remain fixed for the entire tenure. E.g. Considering the table above, if the account was opened in the year 2011 - 2012, interest would have been calculated @ 8.6% p.a. for the first year, @ 8.8% p.a. for the second year (2012 - 2013), @ 8.7% p..a for the third, fourth and fifth year (2013 - 2014, 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2016).

    Amounts deposited into the account before the 5th of a particular month are considered for calculations. Thus, deposits should ideally be made from the 1st to the 5th of any month in order to maximize returns. E.g. if an account shows a balance of Rs.1,00,000 on Sept. 1st and a deposit of Rs.50,000 is made on Sept. 7th, interest will be calculated on Rs.1,00,000 for the month of September not Rs.1,50,000.

    Interest earned on amounts held in PPF accounts are tax-free, which acts as a major draw for investors looking to maximize returns. The interest rate has, over the past decade, been within the 8% p.a. mark. With no major fluctuations in rates, it is a fairly stable option for risk-averse investors.

    Compounding serves to make PPF rates of interest more attractive. The earlier people invest and stay invested in this scheme, the more they stand to earn at maturity. A rise in interest rates, coupled with the raising of the deposit ceiling over the years, has enhanced returns to depositors.

    Factors affecting PPF Interest Rates

    PPF account interest rates are ascertained by the government of India based on prevalent economic conditions, It is usually set in line with or above inflation rates at a premium of a quarter or half percent (0.25% to 0.50%) on rates of 10 year-government bonds.

    Minimum & Maximum PPF Deposits

    The minimum deposit required to be made every year is Rs.500. The maximum that a person can deposit in a year is currently Rs.1.5 lakhs.

    Failure to make an annual deposit, in any year, will lead to inactivation of the account. Deposits can be made in a lump sum i.e. the entire amount to be invested can be paid-into the account at one time, or it can be spread over 12 installments in a year or spread over up to 2 installments a month.

    (The government can, if it sees fit, change PPF deposit limits. Even as it increased the ceiling from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1.5 lakhs in Aug. 2014, provisions were put in place, for those who wished, to invest an additional Rs.50,000 to meet the new investment limit by the end of FY15).

    Defaults, Inactivation & Reactivation of PPF Accounts

    Money has to be deposited every year to keep a PPF account active. At the very least, the minimum requirement of Rs.500 should be met. If this isn’t done for any financial year, during the 15-account’s year tenure, the account is deemed inactive.

    To reactivate the account, an account holder has to pay a penalty of Rs.50. The penalty applies for each year the account has been inactive. For e.g. if an account holder failed to make the minimum investment in year 3, year 4 and year 5 , the account is deemed inactive in year 3. It retains its inactive status for year 4 and 5 and it would have remained inactive except he decides to reactivate it in year 6. To revive his inactive PPF account, he/she will have to pay Rs.50 for the 3 inactive years i.e. Rs.150. In addition, he/she will have to deposit an amount equal, at least, to the minimum investment for each year i.e. Rs.500 * 3 = Rs.1,500 and Rs.500 for year 6 i.e. Rs.1,500 + Rs.500 = Rs.2,000.

    Loan and withdrawal facilities cannot be availed while a PPF account is inactive. Also, interest will not be earned during the year(s) the account is inactive.

    Withdrawals/closure of a PPF Account

    PPF accounts cannot be closed before maturity i.e. before the end of year 15. Even if an account becomes inactive, funds accrued therein cannot be withdrawn until the end of the 15 year. On completing 15 years, the entire amount held in the account, along with the interest accrued, can be withdrawn freely and the account can be closed.

    However, if account holders are in need of funds, the scheme permits partial withdrawals from year 7 i.e. on completing 6 years. The amount that can be withdrawn is capped as the lower of

    • 50% of the total balance at the end of the fourth year, counting back from the year of withdrawal OR
    • 50% of the total balance at the end of the year before the year of withdrawal Withdrawals can be made only once in a financial year.

    Extension or Renewal of PPF Accounts (Maturity Options)

    Although accounts mature at the end of the 15th financial year from the year the account is opened, account holders can choose to extend the tenure. Tenures can be extended in 5-year blocks with or without making further investments.

    • If no fresh investments are made after maturity, the account can continue earning interest on the amount accrued in the account until the end of year 15. Also, in this case, funds can be withdrawn freely once every financial year.
    • If fresh investments are made after maturity, the new deposits will be added to the balance held at the end of year 15 and interest will be calculated on the entire amount. However, in this case, withdrawals will be restricted to a maximum of 60% of the amount held in the account at the start of each 5-year period of extension.

    Tax Advantages of investing in PPF Scheme

    Tax benefits available on these accounts make these investment options very attractive, especially for those using this scheme to build a retirement corpus.

    • PPF deposits fall under the EEE (Exempt, Exempt, Exempt) tax category.
      • Deposits made under this scheme can be claimed as deductions under section 80C.
      • Interest earned on these deposits are not taxable.
      • Amounts withdrawn from the account are exempt from wealth tax.
    • Amounts deposited in a spouse’s or child’s PPF account also qualify for tax breaks.

    PPF Calculator

    A PPF calculator is an online financial tool offered for free. It is usually featured on a bank’s/post office’s website or on third-party financial services provider sites. It is useful to those investing under the PPF scheme.

    • It helps account holders or potential depositors calculate interest on PPF deposits and maturity amounts. It also helps ascertain the investment required for certain desired returns. It delivers results in a user-friendly manner often in the form of charts or tables which clearly indicates how much has accrued in the account as principal, how much has accrued as interest, and how much to expect on maturity.
    • It helps users ascertain how much they stand to gain if they choose to extend their maturity period; under both circumstances i.e. with or without additional deposits.
    • In the case of PPF loans, loan repayments and withdrawals, the PPF deposit calculator is a handy tool to make quick calculations to arrive at the latest account balances after accounting for all debits. With accurate results, PPF accounts as an investment can be tracked and compared with other instruments like other post office saving schemes, FDs, RDs, Mutual Funds etc. to check returns and make informed investment choices.
    • Given that investments can be made either in a lump sum or in installments, calculations can get tedious and confusing when the latter is chosen. Also, considering interest rates are subject to change every year, balances will have to be carefully calculated to account for rise or falling rates. Deposit calculators can help with this.
    • There are also limitations to borrowing and withdrawing from a PPF account. PPF calculators help account holders determine how much they can borrow or withdraw based on these limitations.

    FAQs about PPF Accounts

    1. Can I increase my investment under the PPF scheme by opening 2 or more accounts in my name?

      No. Under the Public Provident Fund Scheme, a person can hold and operate only one account in his/her name.

    2. Can I continue to use an inactive account?

      Yes. You can do so by paying the holding branch a penalty of Rs.50 for every year the account was inactive. You will also have to deposit a minimum of Rs.500 for every year the account was inactive as well as Rs.500 for the year you are activating the account.

    3. Will I continue to earn returns if my account is inactive?

      No. Interest will not be calculated for the year(s) the account is inactive. Once the account is revived, interest will be calculated on the balance held at time of revival.

    4. If I open a PPF account in my minor child’s name, can I claim tax deductions from both accounts i.e. my child’s and mine, when I file taxes?

      The maximum investment cap of Rs.1.5 lakhs applies to all contributions you make to your account, your minor child’s account and/or your spouse’s account, collectively. Only amounts up to Rs.1.5 lakhs can be claimed as deduction U/S 80C of the Income Tax Act. For e.g. if you contribute Rs.1 lakh toward your account and Rs.1 lakh toward your child’s account, you can claim only Rs.1.5 lakhs as deduction and not Rs.2 lakhs.

    5. What if I wish to invest more money than the Rs.1.5 lakh limit?

      Interest will be calculated and paid out only on amounts up to Rs.1.5 lakhs for any year. Only the maximum annual investment limit i.e. Rs.1.5 lakhs a year will be considered towards all calculations for all purposes.

    6. The limit was raised from Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh mid-way through 2014. If the limit is raised this year in the same way, how will I make the additional deposit? Should I wait for next year?

      When the limit is raised during a financial year, banks and post offices are instructed to accept additional investments if investors wish to contribute up to the revised maximum limit. This is what was done last year for those who wished to contribute up to Rs.1.5 lakhs under the revised limit.

    7. How is interest calculated? I got interest for 11 months instead of 12 months for the last year.

      For any given month, investments made on or before the 5th will be considered for interest calculations for that month. Interest is calculated on the lower of the balance held on the 5th of a month to the end of the month.

      For e.g. An account held Rs.1 lakh at the start of September. The account holder decided to invest Rs.50,000. He did so on September 10th. In this case, the balance on the 5th of September was Rs.1 lakh and was Rs.1.5 lakhs at month-end. Here, Rs.1 lakh is the amount that will be considered for calculation of interest. The additional investment of Rs.50,000 would be considered for the month of October.

      If, however, the account holder had deposited the additional Rs.50,000 on September 3rd, the balance on the 5th of September would have been Rs.1.5 lakhs. This would have been the amount considered for interest calculations for the month of September.

    8. I want to leave some money to my grandchild. Can I open the PPF account on her behalf?

      No. Grandparents cannot open PPF accounts in their grandchildren’s names. The amount can be given to the parent/guardian who can open and operate the account in the name of their minor child/ward. However, if both parents of the minor child die, the grandparents, as guardians, can open and operate a PPF account for the minor child.

    9. Is it mandatory to withdraw all the money in my PF account at the end of 15 years?

      No. It is not necessary to redeem all the funds held in the account at maturity. The account term can be continued or extended for as long as the investor wishes to operate it. The account can be continued for 5 years per extension. Extensions can be done by depositing fresh funds or without making any further deposits.

    10. Will I continue to earn interest on my account if I extend the maturity period beyond 15 years?

      Yes. Interest will be calculated and paid out based on the interest rates prevailing during the period of extension. If no fresh deposits are made during the period of extension, interest will be calculated based on the balance held at the end of the 15th year. If fresh deposits are made to extend the term, it will be added to the balance at the end of the 15th year and the total amount will be treated as principal for interest calculations.

    11. Can I extend my account for 2 years on maturity?

      Extensions can be made in blocks of 5 years each.

    12. What happens to the money in my account if I die before maturity?

      It can be claimed by the nominees or the legal heirs in the absence of nominees. If a nominee was named by the account holder, he/she will receive the entire amount held in the account. If more than one nominee was named, the nominees will receive funds held in the account proportionately i.e. as stated by the account holder in the nomination form.

    13. Is it necessary to name nominees?

      It is not mandatory to name nominees for a PPF account. However, it is advisable to do so to avoid conflicts in the event of death and to have a clear transfer of funds to a desired person.

    14. How can a nominee/legal heir claim funds in a PPF account?

      Nominees or legal heirs can claim funds in a PPF account when the account holder has passed away. They will be required to produce proof of death of the account holder. Nominees can claim funds in the proportion stated by the account holder in the nomination form.

    15. How long can I extend my account for?

      PPF accounts have a maturity period of 15 years. However, this can be extended for as long as the account holder wishes to continue it. Extensions can be done for 5 years at a time. For e.g. if an account matures on March 31st 2015, it can be extended till March 31st 2020. The next extension will be until March 31st 2025 and so on.

    16. I deposited money in my wife’s PPF account. Who can avail the tax deduction?

      In this case it will be you who will be able to avail the tax deduction. The person making the contribution is eligible for tax deductions U/S 80C.

    17. I deposited money in my parents’ PPF accounts but did not qualify for tax deduction U/S 80C. Why?

      Only contributions made to an account holder’s own account, his/her spouse’s account or his/her minor child’s account can be claimed as deductions U/S 80C of the Income Tax Act. The total contribution to any one or all of the abovementioned person’s account is subject to the investment cap of Rs.1.5 lakhs per annum.

    18. If I withdraw money from my PPF account, can I redeposit it to meet the minimum annual investment requirement?

      Yes, you can withdraw money for personal purposes. It can be used to invest the Rs.500 required as annual investment.

    19. Can I open a PPF account along with my wife or child?

      No. The option to hold PPF accounts jointly is not provided under the PPF scheme. A person can hold and operate only one account in his/her own name.

    20. If I need money, can I make withdrawals in addition to taking out a loan against my PPF account?

      No, withdrawals and loans are exclusive of each other as per the rules of operating a PPF account. Loan facilities are extended to account holders only between the 3rd and 6th year of operating an active account whereas partial withdrawals are allowed from the 7th year onwards. This means you cannot avail a loan from the 7th year onwards nor can you make withdrawals before the 6th year.

      This scheme was devised to promote savings and while loans and withdrawals are allowed to a certain extent to allow for some liquidity, the scheme, in general, does not aim to encourage a reduction in savings potential.

    News About Public Provident Fund

    • Centre Hikes Interest Rates of PPF and NSC by 40 Bps

      In a bid to catch up with the tightening liquidity, the government has increased the interest rates of the Public Provident Fund (PPF) and the National Savings Certificate (NSC) by 40 basis points. The hike in the interest rates is for the quarter October-December. The increase in the interest rates for these savings schemes closely follows the rise in interest rates for bank deposits after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) repo rate hikes. The interest rates has stayed constant over the last 2 quarters after a reduction by 20 bps in the quarter of January-March.

      The government’s decision comes as no surprise, since the move aligns with rise in the deposit rates of banks. The current interest rate will now be 8% as opposed to 7.6% for the NSC and PPF and the interest rate of the Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) will now by 7.7% as opposed to the 7.3%.

      25 September 2018

    • Improved Guidelines Launched by the Government for Treasury Investment

      The Shipping Ministry has recently issued new guidelines for investment pertaining to major ports in India. The issues have been introduced in order to enhance the existing conditions surrounding treasury investment in Indian ports. Investment procedures and subsequent achievements and returns were not streamlined for a very long time, especially for the individuals operating from the ports of India. Therefore, to improve the procedures, the Shipping Ministry issued new guidelines on the provident fund (PPF) investment based on the guidelines provided by the Employee Provident Fund Organization from the Labor Ministry and Employment, 2015. The Shipping Ministry also issued another guidelines on the investment of additional funds that are based on the fundamentals of the guidelines of the Department of Public Enterprises) in the year 2017.

      These new guidelines from the Shipping Ministry and the Indian Government are a result of the low earnings that these investments have been making. The newly established guidelines, on the other hand, are supposed to increase the PPF investment funds and surplus funds by at least 1 to 1.5% all across the ports in India. This issuance will add Rs.150 crore to the existing value of the returns that are currently generated from these investments. In order to boost profits and help the individuals make the most of their investments, the Shipping Ministry has successfully launched a series of initiatives across all major Indian ports. One of these most important initiatives is the improvement of the returns that are earned on investments made in treasuries by the ports with regards to provident funds, pension funds, and surplus funds. Across the ports mentioned above, the funds of these investments are believed to, which in turn yields an interest of about Rs.2,700 crore.

      3 August 2018

    • PPF Accounts - Some things to know

      PPF accounts interest rates is fixed at 7.6 percent for the quarter ending in September 2018. The interest for these accounts is compounded on a yearly basis and after the completion of every year, the interest is added to the principal amount. The interest in generally calculated between the 5th and the end of the month. The interest will be paid on the 31st of March every year. All the contributions made to your PPF account can be claimed for tax benefits up to Rs.1.5 lakh under Section 80C of Income Tax Act of 1961. This tax benefit it offers comes under EEE tax status. The proceeds received at the time of maturity and the interest earned are all exempted from tax. You can take loans on your PPF accounts after the completion of the third financial year. This option is available till the 5th financial year and the loan can be taken once every year. There is an option for partial withdrawal of funds after the completion of the seventh financial year from the date of opening of the account. Only 50% of the amount that has accumulated by the end of the fifth year can be withdrawn.

      20 July 2018

    • Interest Rates for Small Savings Schemes Unlikely to Increase

      A notification by the Finance Ministry indicated that the interest rates for small savings schemes such as PPF, NSC and other savings schemes are unlikely to increase in the next quarter. Interest rates for government-run savings schemes are fixed every quarter but despite the increase in bond yield, interest rates for this quarter will remain the same.

      Usually, the interest rates for small savings deposits use the Government Securities as a benchmark for interest rates. However, in the previous quarter, the interest rates for savings schemes were decreased by 0.2%. As a result of the lowered interest rates, the NSC and the PPF now earn an annual interest of 7.6 %, while the Sukanya Samriddhi scheme deposits earn an annual interest of 8.1%.

      3 April 2018

    • Interest Rates for Small Savings Schemes to remain the same

      The Government has decided not to alter the interest rates for all small savings schemes for this quarter. This decision is an attempt to match the hardening interest rates that are currently being offered by banks. At present, the interest rates for the savings schemes are as follows: 8.3% for Senior Citizens Savings Scheme, 7.6% for the PPF and NSC, 8.1% for the Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme and 7.3% for the Kisan Vikas Patra.

      In 2016, the finance ministry has stated that the rates for small savings schemes will be linked to government bond yields. This decision was made in an attempt to have banks lower their deposit rates for the small savings schemes offered by the government.

      Additionally, an indefinite extension has been granted to all savings schemes investors for submitting their Aadhaar details.

      30 March 2018

    • Plans for making Post Office Savings Account Mandatory for Savings Schemes Investors Called Off

      The Department of Post issued a memorandum on March 23 about dropping the decision to credit interest and maturity incomes from savings schemes to post office savings accounts. The plan was withdrawn after investors in the scheme expressed disapproval towards having to open another savings account.

      The government had initially issued a memo in August 2017 stating that the income earned from interest and maturity of post office savings schemes would be credited to post office savings accounts, thereby making it mandatory for all investors in the scheme to open a savings account with the post office. Since the initial announcement, the interest and maturity proceeds for savings schemes investors has been withheld, demanding that a post office account be opened for the proceeds to be transferred.

      Additionally, linking of the Aadhaar with savings scheme details has also been put on hold indefinitely until the Supreme Court addresses the legality of the Aadhaar act.

      30 March 2018

    • No Attachments for PPF Corpus

      In what would could make the Public Provident Fund one of the most attractive saving schemes out there, the Finance Bill of 2018, announced that the PPF corpus of the subscriber under no circumstance can be attached to a liability or a debt (loan, etc.) under any court decree and can be used and withdrawn only by the individual owner of the account. As per the statement, “the amount standing to the credit of any depositor in the Public Provident Fund Scheme shall not be liable to attachment under any decree or order of any court in respect of any debt or liability incurred by the depositors”. This has ensured the security of the corpus of the PPF subscribers, making sure that no bank,  financial institution or even the government can attach any notice, liability or debt against the corpus - one that will ensure that people stay subscribed to the scheme and continue their contributions till maturity. For those who wish to subscribe to the PPF, the Public Provident Fund is one of the most effective retirement investment tools with strict lock-in period of 15 years - to ensure that it can be used by the subscriber for his/her retirement years. Only after the maturity of the scheme can a subscriber make a total withdrawal from his/her account. All the withdrawal amount at maturity is completely exempt from tax under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

      21 March 2018

    • PPF corpus cannot be attached to any Liability, Debt

      In what would be a push for citizens across the country to subscribe to the Public Provident Fund, the finance bill of 2018 released a statement saying that the PPF corpus of the subscriber under no circumstance can be attached to a liability or a debt under any court decree and can be used only by the individual owner of the account only. According to the statement, the amount standing to the credit of any depositor in the Public Provident Fund Scheme shall not be liable to attachment under any decree or order of any court in respect of any debt or liability incurred by the depositors. This move has ensured the security of the corpus of the PPF subscribers, ensuring that no bank, institution or the government can attach any notice, liability or debt against the corpus, a move that will ensure that people stay subscribed to the scheme and continue their contributions till maturity. For those new to the PPF, the PPF is an effective retirement investment tool and comes with strict lock-in period of 15 years, only after which a subscriber can make a total withdrawal from his/her account. All the withdrawal amount at that point is completely exempt from tax under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

      19 March 2018

    • PPF changes will benefit investors

      At the Union Budget 2018, which was held on February 1, the Government of India has proposed the enactment of the Government Savings Promotion Act. This act will act as an umbrella for the existing acts that are governing the PPF and other small saving schemes. As per the proposal, the new act will amend the rules and regulations of the PPF with regard to withdrawals and pre closure of accounts and the decisions of one’s PPF account will be left in the hands of the subscriber. As per the rumors, the PPF will allow subscribers to make premature withdrawals and pre closure of accounts in cases such as medical emergencies, to fund their education and so on. As per financial experts, the umbrella act will not take away any of the benefits the PPF and other small saving schemes come with.

      26 February 2018

    • New Act to make PPF premature withdrawals easier

      Following the Union Budget 2018, the Government of India is looking to make premature closure of savings schemes and the Public Provident Fund a lot more flexible than the current stringent rules that are stuck to such schemes. This all might be possible with the enactment of the Government Savings Promotion Act which will rid such schemes of the rules stated in the Government Savings Bank Act, 1873, the Government Savings Certificate Act, 1959 and lastly the Public Provident Fund Act, 1968. The merge of all the aforementioned acts will result in ending the stringent rules fixed onto saving schemes. Some of the highlights of the scheme are mentioned below:

      • No current benefits of the PPF will be taken away from subscribers.
      • The new Government Savings Promotion Act will ensure that subscribers to the PPF are granted flexibility in making their own investment and withdrawal decisions.
      • The PPF under the Government Savings Promotion Act will continue to have protection against liabilities, debts and so on under court decree.
      • Withdrawals and pre-closure of accounts will be possible for instances such as medical emergencies, higher education and so on.
      • Under the Government Savings Promotion Act, minors will be able to assign nominees to their accounts.

      20 February 2018

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