PPF Scheme is quite popular among the investors or financial advisors for its flexible nature. Also, the tax benefits one can avail from a Public Provident Fund scheme make the plan lucrative.
To motivate small investments among the people, the Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India initiated Public Provident Fund in the year 1968. It is clearly mentioned in the Section 80C of Income Tax Act, 1961 that the interest earned during the PPF tenure is exempted from one’s tax liability. The PPF deposit up to 1.5 lakh is liable to the exemption and the amount to be received on maturity is also tax-free. Hence, PPF scheme undoubtedly is one of the most tax efficient and popular money-saving schemes in India.
Avenues for Opening a PPF Account
You can open a PPF account online at the nationalized public sector banks in India, at the post offices, and at other financial centres like the private banks. You will have to submit the relevant and desired documents, the initial amount, and will also have to fill and submit the relevant form, for the purpose.
Interest Rate on PPF Deposits
The new budget announced by the Finance Minister substantially impacts the financial market. Various financial plans are affected and witness changes in terms of the rate of interest, service tax, return etc. PPF Scheme is also no exception. PPF interest rate is also dropped by 0.20% from 7.8% to 7.6%.
The PPF interest rate 2016-17 towards a new deposit was 8.1%. It was 8.7 % in the financial year 2015-16. The interest rates for the PPF deposits are not like those of FDs or Fixed Deposits. While the fixed deposit interest rates do not vary, the interest rate for the PPF deposits varies for each consecutive year. All PPF deposits get the same interest rate benefits as per the new budget announcement.
Defining the Financial Year
The financial year is the term that denotes the time period between the 1st of April of a given year and 31st March of the successive year. The interest rate for the PPF scheme is announced in the budget session, every year, which will hold true for the next session that happens next year.
Type of Interest Accrued on the PPF Investments
The interest rate provided by the Government of India, towards the PPF accounts, is Compound Interest, and not simple interest. Compound interest (interest on interest!) is more fruitful for the investor, as each year the principal increases, and the interest is again calculated on the increased principal (in simple interest, the principle remains the same for each successive year).
Investment Amount/Monetary Deposit
The sole aim of the PPF scheme is to make Indians save more money, and hence all steps have been taken by the Government to ensure that the scheme is appealing to the general people. One can deposit a very low amount of money in the scheme.
The individual can deposit a minimum amount of Rs. 500 in the PPF scheme. The maximum limit of the deposit is now 1, 50,000. The upper or the maximum deposition limit has been increased very recently, from 1 lakh to 1.5 lakhs. An individual cannot deposit more than Rs. 1.5 lacs to a given PPF account, in a year. The increase is provided in order to make the scheme more lucrative to people.
The PPF account of any given individual has a 15-year time span. The account is active for this duration. Its validity can also be extended, if the individual so desires, after successful completion of the time frame. The extension is for five years, at each renewal. Investors can also add more money to the account, if they wish, after extension.
Under the Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, an individual can get an exemption of up to Rs 1.5 Lakhs, for the PPF deposit.
Note: The individual can deposit the money in the name of self, child, or spouse.
Account Opening Charges
The PPF account opening charges are just Rs. 100. This one-time amount has to be paid by the investor, over and above the minimum amount of Rs 500, which would be the first deposit into the scheme.
Each year, the investor has to submit the minimum amount of Rs. 500 in the PPF account, in order to keep it active. The frequency has to be maintained for 15 years so that no year passes without a deposit.
There can be multiple deposits as well so that the total amount deposited during a given financial year does not cross the Rs. 1.5 Lakhs limit. An individual can deposit money into a PPF account, a maximum of 12 times, during a given financial/fiscal year. Also, No more than two deposits can be made to PPF scheme, during any given month.
Ways of Depositing Money into your PPF account
There is an ample number of ways, through which an individual can deposit money to his account, or to the PPF account of somebody else, (including a child, spouse and member of the family).
These include PO (postal order), check, cash, and the online fund transfers. You can deposit money in a given PPF account for a maximum of 12 times during a given financial year, via any of these means. These days, PPF online transfer is a more convenient option.
PPF Withdrawal: Partial and Full
You can make partial withdrawals from your PPF account, after a given number of years. Complete withdrawal can only be made from the account, after the completion of 15 years, or after maturity.
Features and Benefits
- Partial withdrawals
- Tax exemption
- Compound interest
- Provision of extension after maturity
- Multiple modes for depositing money
- Invest as low as Rs 500
- Secure and trustworthy, PPF being a government initiative
- One of the best schemes for long-term investments
- Useful for planning for retirements, education, and marriage purposes, among others.
- The policy amount is never available to the creditors, and cannot be attached to any court order.
- Easy to access, as the PPF account opening facility is available at multiple venues, nationwide.
- Scheme available at a number of banks, http://www.ppfaccount.in/list-of-banks-offering-ppf-account.html#,
- Resident Indians, over 18 years of age, can open the PPF account, for themselves, or for anyone else in their family.
- No upper age limit for opening the account
- A PPF account online or offline can also be opened for a minor child or kid, below 18 years of age. In this case, the total PPF investments in the account of the minor and guardian/minor cannot exceed 1.5 lakhs, for a given financial year. Also, grandparents cannot open a PPF account online or offline for their grandchildren.
- An option to open the account online, wherever the bank offers the services.
Forms Associate with PPF
A number of forms are associated with PPF scheme. This includes:
- Form A: For opening the Public Provident Fund account.
- Form B: To make a deposit into the account, or to repay the loan taken.
- Form C: For obtaining partial withdrawals
- Form D: To request a loan against the PPF account
- Form E: For making a nominee
- Form F: To make any change to the information related to the account
- Form G: the claim the funds on the account, by a legal heir or a nominee
- From H: To extend the time period of the PPF account, once its maturity has arrived.
How to Maximize the PPF Gains
For interest purposes, the bank considers the deposits made from 1st to 5th of any given month. Hence, to gain maximum interest, you should make a deposit before 5th of any given month.
How to Check Your PPF Account Balance Online?
PPF, as you know, is backed by the government of India, and is amongst the safest investment options in the country today. Offering 7.6% rate of interest as on January 1, 2018, over a period of 15 years, both principle and interest earned on PPF investment are completely tax-free.
Despite this lock-in period, PPF allows partial withdrawal starting from the 7th year. And, if you need to check PPF balance online or offline, you have the following ways, based on if you have your PPF account online at a bank or offline at the post office:
Check PPF Account Balance at a Bank
It can be pretty easy for you to check your PPF balance if your account is at a bank. You can easily log into the e-portal of the bank through your internet banking credentials. You can also have a look at your PPF passbook, in case you have to see each PPF online contribution you made over the year and interest earned annually. In order to do that, you must have a savings account with the same bank as your PPF account. However, some banks may allow you to link your PPF account details with your existing savings account with the other bank for the ease of PPF online contribution. Once your PPF account online is linked to your savings account, you can easily transfer funds to your PPF online account whenever you need to.
In case you don’t have access to your Internet banking portal, make sure to get it asap. Once you got your bank e-portal activated, you can easily check and transfer funds, view monthly statement(s), pay bills online, submit and check the status of your loan application, and make the online purchase(s) when required to your PPF online account.
Check PPF Account Balance at Post Office
If you have your PPF account at a post office, then you cannot view your account balance when you need to, unless you visit the same post office branch where you opened your PPF account. You can view your PPF account details and balance only after getting your PPF passbook updated.
Also, in order to deposit money in your PPF account opened at a post office, you need personally to visit that post office branch.
How to know your PPF withdrawal status?
The PPF account, once opened, cannot be closed before the maturity date or tenure of 15 years. In other words, you can withdraw your money after a waiting period of15 years. However, the scheme allows partial withdrawals right from the 7th year. You can also avail of the loan facility from the 3rd year.
If you need to check PPF withdrawal status online, you can log into your bank account and have a look at your PPF online passbook. However, if you need to check your PPF account details and your account is at a post office, you are not provided with the very facility. You need to visit the post office to have access to your PPF withdrawal status.
PPF Rules and Interest Rate Fluctuations
Public Provident Fund or PPF scheme is an investment instrument backed by the government of India. The interest rate offered by PPF is subject to change quarterly, and as per the recent revision in PPF rules, the updated interest rate is 7.6%.
Table1. PPF Interest Rate History of last 15 Years
- The interest rate on PPF scheme is calculated on a monthly basis and that too on the amount lowest between the 5th and the last day of the month.
- The interest applicable is credited at the end of the year. Therefore, it is recommended to contribute to your PPF account before 5th of the month.
- You are allowed to make only 12 transactions in a calendar year and the maximum amount you can deposit in your PPF account cannot exceed 1.5 Lakh in a year.
- PPF account has a lock-in period of 15 years.
- Partial withdrawal is allowed from the 7th
- Loan against PPF scheme can be availed from the 3rd
Pros and Cons of PPF Scheme
PPF is one of the most appealing saving schemes, which has been gaining importance over the time. When PPF influences every walk of lives, it is recommended for all taxpayers. A few of the appealing advantages of PPF are listed below:
The Safest Plan
PPF is initiated by the government, so there is no possibility of someone running away with your money. It is confirmed that you will get your assured amount at the time of maturity. So, investing in PPF is the safest decision.
By investing in PPF, you can earn 7.6% interest per annum. But, because of the tax rebate facility, your actual return of 7.6% works out to be higher.
Scope for earning compounded returns. That means you earn interest not only on the deposit you make but also on the interest earned over the year(s).
No Tax on Interest Earned
The interest that you earn from a PPF account is exempted from the tax u/s 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
You can invest up to a maximum of 1.5 lakh per annum towards your PPF account. The best part is that you can deposit the money in 12 instalments. The minimum amount that you can invest in their PPF account is as low as Rs. 500.
No tax on Maturity Amount
The amount you get during the maturity of your PPF scheme is also exempted from your tax liability.
You can maintain a PPF online account as well. With internet banking booming, the use of online banking services has become convenient these days. You can maintain your PPF account online by making deposits, calculate your interest using PPF calculator online or keep yourself updated with every new announcement.
Free of Stock Market Influence
In PPF, your investment wouldn't be affected by stock market performance, as the investment is not exposed to equities. This is just opposite in case of mutual funds or SIPs.
Disadvantages of PPF Scheme
Despite all the pros of PPF, it is not completely free of criticism. Public Provident Fund also has some cons that we can’t deny. To name a few:
Interest Rate is Unstable
The tend-to-change interest rate might affect the maturity amount. If we notice, the interest rate of PPF scheme has not been fixed. It kept changing over the time and is declining.
15 years is a long period, but the last contribution is made in the 16th financial year. You will not earn interest on the investment you have made on the last day of your account.
Interest on the Lowest Amount Only
The PPF rate of interest is calculated on the lowest balance between the 5th and last day of the month. For instance, you have 20,000 in your PPF account and you deposit an additional amount 2000 after 5th of a month, your interest will be calculated on Rs. 20,000 (not on Rs. 22,000).
Lacks in Liquidity
It is not same as mutual funds and is hereby lacking liquidity. Your money is stuck for years on end and not as easy as selling shares or units of mutual funds.
So, PPF online and offline options have their shares of pros and cons equally, when compared to some other plans like FDs, ELSS mutual funds. However, it is one of the preferable schemes until now due to its tax benefits. But it is always advisable to take experts’ advice whenever you are open to investing in a savings plan.
How to Reactivate PPF Account when it is Inactive
The PPF account online or offline may get inactive when you fail to deposit a minimum of Rs. 500, in a given financial year, during the 15-year time frame of the account. In order to reactivate the account, you will have to pay a fine of Rs. 50, for each year when the minimum deposit has not been made, into the account. Note that no loan, or interest, can be availed for the period during which the account has been inactive.
The account cannot be closed during the period of 15 years. Even if the account gets inactive, the amount (including the investment and the interest) is released to the account holder, or the nominee, only after 15 years i.e. on account maturity.
Online PPF Calculator
The online PPF Calculator is a versatile, widely-accessible financial tool, which helps you to:
- Calculate the returns that you will get on your investments
- Plan your investments, and invest towards a desired financial goal
- Know your withdrawal limits
These and other benefits make the calculator an effective and popular online tool.
- No joint account allowed
- A maximum investment for a given financial year is Rs 1, 50, 000 lakhs only
- Non-Resident Indians cannot open a PPF account. Those NRIs who have opened a PPF account, before they obtained the NRI status can continue with the account investments until its maturity. But they can extend the account tenure after maturity, i.e. after 15 years.
- The PPF online or offline account can no longer be opened by the HUF’s.
- The restriction has been in place since the year 2015. Those who have opened the account before this period can continue with it until maturity. The HUF account will also not be extended after maturity.
- People from their countries, or foreigners to India, cannot open the account.
Documents Required for Opening a PPF Account
You will require an identity proof, signature proof, and an address proof for opening a PPF online or offline account. Any documents used should not be expired, and should be valid, as per the time references.
Documents that can be used an Identity Proof and Address Proof
PAN Card, Passport, Aadhar Card, Voter’s ID, Driving License, and Ration Card
Other documents that provide for the opening of a PPF account
Bank account statement, signed checks, employer’s letter, utility bills
Other than the identity and address proof, you would also require
- Duly filled account opening form. You can get the form at the bank or the post office where you wish to open the account.
- The nomination form, if there are nominees.
- For minor’s, an age proof will also be required.
The bank may also require any other/additional document.
PPF FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q1. Who is eligible to open a PPF account?
An individual can open PPF Account his/her own behalf.
Q2. What is the current interest rate on PPF Scheme?
As per the new financial year, the rate of interest on a PPF account is 7.6%.
Q3. What are the tax benefits I can avail from a PPF account?
Under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961, a maximum investment of INR 1, 50,000 is exempted from your tax liability, if you invest in PPF.
Q4. Is there any minor account available for my children?
Yes, one can open a PPF account for minor as well. The account will be maintained under the guardianship of the parents. The minimum and maximum limit will remain the same.
Q5. What are the maturity terms of a minor PPF account?
There are two conditions applied:
- If the PPF matures before the child turns 18 years, then the parents can either withdraw the amount or extend it for another 5 years.
- If the PPF matures after the child turns 18 years, then it is solely his/her decision whether to take out the money or not because now he/she is the sole holder of the account.
Q6. How is PPF interest calculated?
The PPF interest is calculated annually, on the lowest account balance between 5th and last day of the month. Hereby, it is advisable to deposit the money before 5th of the month so that you can earn the interest for that particular month. You can also calculate your PPF interest by using Policybazaar’s PPF Calculator Tool online.
Q7. Why is it important to have a PPF account?
The most important benefit of a PPF account is that one can get tax exemption benefit on this investment up to 1.5 lakh. The PPF Scheme comes under EEE tax range, which stands for-
- Tax benefits up to 1.5 lakh
- No tax on PPF interest earned
- Maturity amount is also tax-free
Q8. What if my PPF account becomes dormant?
In case your PPF account is inactive, you are required to follow the below simple steps:
- Submit a written application to a bank or post office where your PPF account is opened
- A penalty charge of INR 50 is applicable for each year when the account is dormant
- Get all the documents, penalty and signature verified by the bank officer in your presence
- Try to maintain minimum INR 500 in your PPF account each year
Q9. What are the documents needed to open a PPF account?
- Age proof
- Address proof
- Identity proof
- Income proof
- Duly filled application form
- Age proof for minor
- Documents may differ from bank to bank
Q10. Can I withdraw funds from my PPF account?
Yes, partial withdrawal is applicable. At the end of 6th year in the scheme, you can withdraw partially, i.e. up to 50% of the accumulated savings at the end of 4th year. Likewise, at the end of 7th year, you can withdraw up to 50% of the accumulated savings at the end of 5th year.
Q11. Can a PPF Account be transferred?
Yes, a PPF account can be transferred from one account office to another.
Q12. Where can I open a PPF account?
To open a PPF account, you can visit the nearest post office or a bank to open a PPF account with a deposit of as minimum as Rs. 500. Other than this, one can refer the below-mentioned list of banks that can help you open a PPF account:
- ICICI Bank
- Vijaya Bank
- State Bank of India (and its subsidiaries)
- UCO Bank
- Punjab National Bank
- Oriental Bank of Commerce
- Allahabad Bank
- Bank of Baroda
- Indian Overseas Bank
- Central Bank of India
- Union Bank of India
- Bank of Maharashtra
- Canara Bank
- IDBI Bank
- Corporation Bank
- Dena Bank
- Indian Bank
- United Bank of India
- Axis Bank
- Bank of India