EPF or Employee Providend Fund is one of the Government schemes that applies over employees earning more than Rs.15000 in an organisation with more than 20 employees. It is a highly efficient retirement and tax planning scheme. The EPF amount is automatically deducted from the salary of the employee, and the employer also contributes an equal amount to the employee’s EPF account. EPF comes under EEE exempt category, where the deposit, the interest as well as the withdrawal is completely tax-free.
The employee needs to contribute 12% of his basic salary, and the employer will match the contribution. While the employee can choose to deposit a higher amount than 12%, the employer doesn’t need to do so.
The interest to be paid on the EPF account is determined by the Government of India in consultation with EPFO, and is updated every quarter. As of writing this post, the EPF account pays a handsome 8.1% interest.
The contribution to EPF comes under 80C of the IT Act 1961. So it’s limited to 1.5 lacs per financial year. But sometimes with high-income earners, the limit is easily breached, and they continue to get undue tax-benefits. In 2021-22 budget, decision was made to tax employees contributing higher than 2.5 lakhs in a financial year. This amount is set at 5 lakhs per year when the employee is the sole contributor to the EPF account. It is when there is no employer contribution (as in the case of Government employees).
Do note that only the interest earned on the deposits over the specified amount is taxed. That means, if you have deposited 3 lakhs in a financial year, then only the interest earned on the additional Rs.50000 will be taxed. The EPFO tracks the difference by using 2 different categories to hold the deposits. As per calculation, this will only apply to people earning more than 20 lakhs a year.
Even if the new taxation on EPF is a tool for Tax authorities to fix a loophole. This loophole was being used by high earners to save tax, it still is one of the best ways to do investments. Read more finance related articles here.