Public Provident Fund (PPF)- Features, Eligibility and Benefits

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Nowadays, money has become a very important thing in everyone’s life. Without money life is impossible. Saving money will help us in our urgent needs. In addition, we should save money for our future. Keeping this thing in mind, the Government has been constantly introducing different types of benefits and schemes. One such benefit is the Public Provident Fund (PPF).

Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme

The Public Provident Fund Scheme is a tax-free scheme floated under the PPF Act 1968 by the Central Government. This scheme was first introduced by the Ministry of Finance in the year 1968. It is one of the safest investments product launched by the Indian Government. The deposits made towards the PPF Account can be claimed as the tax deductions and it also gives the tax benefits under the section of 80 (c) of the Income Tax Act. The main objective of the Public Provident Fund Scheme is to encourage savings among the Indians and encourage them to create a retirement corpus.

 

 

 List of the Public Provident Fund (PPF) Forms

In Public Provident Fund Scheme, the Government has introduced different types of forms are required on the basis of the activity that you perform in your PPF Account. Below are the details of the types of forms used:

  1. Form A: This form is mainly issued to those who want to open a new PPF Account. The form consists of the key particulars of the account holder such as the name, address, PAN Card and signature. The amount that you want to deposit should also be mentioned in the form. Amounts can be deposited via cash, cheque, online or Demand Draft. This will be specified in the pay-slip. If in case you have opened the account but the deposits are done by an agent then, the agent’s name and the code has to be entered in the form.
  2. Form B: This form is used to make deposits and repay loans against a PPF Account which means that Form B is used to deposit or pay money in the account. The deposits can be the investments, repayments for a loan taken against an account or payment of the penalties or to reactivate the account. Loans can be availed from 3 years to 6 years counted from the day of opening. Amounts can be deposited via cash, cheque, online or Demand Draft. This will be specified in the pay-slip. If in case you have opened the account but the deposits are done by an agent then, the agent’s name and the code has to be entered in the form.
  3. Form C: This form is used to take partial withdrawals from the PPF Account. You can withdraw a certain amount of money from the year 7 of opening the account. The applicant has to enter the account number and the amount you need to withdraw. A declaration is also taken stating that no amount was withdrawn in the same financial year.
  4. Form D: This form is used to request for loans against the PPF Account. The Scheme provides loan facility from the year 3 to 6 of an inactive account. The account holder has to specify the details such as the PPF Account number, the amount being borrowed and an undertaking that the amount will be repaid with an interest within 3 years as per the rules.
  5. Form E: This form is used to add a nominee to the PPF Account. The account holder should mention the name of the person along with their address and relation to the account holder. If you are entering more than one nominee then you also have to specify the percentage of the funds that can be claimed by each nominee. Minors cannot be made as Nominees.
  6. Form F: This form is used to cancel to alter the nominees for a particular PPF Account. The account holder has to specify when the nominee is cancelled/replaced/altered. The Nominees can be added or removed at any period of time during the PPF Tenure. The percentage allocated to each nominee can also be altered.
  7. Form G: This form is used to claim funds in the PPF Account by a Nominee/Legal Heir. This means that when the PPF Account holder dies, whom he/she had stated as the nominees or his/her legal heirs, they can claim the amount in his/her PPF Account. The Form G consists of the information such as name, an address of the Nominee holder. The form also asks for a Confirmation from the claimant that the death certificate of the account holder has been enclosed.
  8. Form H: Form H is used to extend the maturity period of the PPF Account. The standard maturity period of the PPF Account is 15 years after which the investor can withdraw funds freely. But however, if the investor wants to extend the term of the account beyond 15 years then he/she can further do so by submitting this form. This form will extend the term period up to 5 years. While submitting this form, the account number and the date of the account opening has to be specified.

Features of the Public Provident Fund

As we know that, the objective of the PPF Scheme is to encourage savings across all types of Income Class. It has minimum deposit amount making it more affordable and simple. The PPF Accounts can be opened at any nationalized and authorized banks/Post Offices. The PPF Accounts can also be opened in the Private Banks.

The Interest Rates are set and is announced by the Government of India. The interest can only be calculated for a financial year if the rate of interest is announced. The period from the 1st of April to 31st March is (Financial Year). This is considered to be the Deposit Year for the PPF Account. Like for an example, if an account is opened on November 2010-2011 then the Year 1 will be April 1st 2011-March 31st 2012.

The different features of the PPF Account are as follows:

  1. The PPF accounts can be opened with a minimum amount of Rs 100/- at any Post Office or any SBI Branch or any authorized offices like ICICI Bank, Union Bank of India. You can also open an online PPF account with ICICI Bank.
  2. The annual deposit amount in a Financial Year is Rs 500/- and the maximum is Rs 1, 50,000. The deposits in the PPF Account can be made either in one go or in installments. But you cannot deposit more than 12 times in a year.
  3. Maximum Tenure for the PPF Account is 15 years. If any case you want to extend your term period of the PPF account then you can extend the account validity up to 5 years.
  4. If you forget to contribute the minimum amount in any year, then your account will be deactivated. To re-activate it again you need to pay Rs 50/- as Penalty charge for each inactive year and along with that you also need to pay Rs 500/- for each inactive year’s contribution.
  5. The interest rates are announced by the Central Government. The interest rate is compounded yearly. The current interest rate of the PPF Account is 8.1% per annum.
  6. The Loan Facility is available from the 3rd financial year to 5th financial Year. The rate of interest charged on the loan on or after December 1st 2011, is 2% per annum.
  7. Withdrawals is allowed from the 7th Financial Year. You can withdraw only once in a year and that should not exceed 50% of the balance at the end of 4th Year or 50% at the end of the immediately preceding year, whichever is lower. Premature closure of the account is possible in case the death of the account holder.
  8. It allows cash, cheque, and Demand Draft and Internet Banking modes of the Deposit Modes.
  9. The Nominations are allowed only on or after the opening of the account.
  10. The funds cannot be transferred between the people but can be transferred between the bank branches or post offices for free.
  11. The PPF Accounts does not allows Joint Account Facility.

Benefits of Investing in PPF

The key advantages of investing in a PPF Account:

  1. The PPF account serves quite effective long-term investments. They offer a deposit period of 15 years and a lock-in period of 7 years.
  2. This scheme is quite beneficial after the retirement. As it provides long-term tenures, compounded and tax-free returns and capital protection make it perfect for building a retirement corpus.
  3. Provides tax-free returns and tax-deductible investments
  4. Since the scheme is backed by the Government, it is, therefore, has a high-security feature and low-risk of default.
  5. The PPF accounts are opened at Nationalized, public banks or Post Offices, and selected Private Banks. They have a wide reach across the country. These accounts can be opened online as well.
  6. The PPF accounts cannot be attached to the Court Order or laid claim to by creditors.

Interest Rates of the Public Provident Fund

The Reserve Bank of India specifies the rate of interest from time to time that is applicable to the PPF account. It is the Central Government who sets and announces the latest PPF Interest Rates. The current rate of Interest of the PPF for the year 2017-18 is 7.9%.

PPF Scheme Rules and Regulations

There are a number of rules and regulations governing the Public Provident Fund Scheme, 1968. The rules and the regulations include the eligibility, documentation, opening of a PPF Accounts including the loan facilities, closure, and extension of accounts. The key rules have been discussed below:

Eligibility Conditions: Who can open a PPF Account

There are a number of eligibility criteria’s for opening a PPF Account. The following are discussed below:

  • The PPF accounts should be opened as one account per person. The nationality of the individuals should be Indian. They should attain an age of 18 years. There is no upper-limit for opening this account.
  • Minors can also open the PPF accounts. Minors who are below the age of 18 years can also open the account. However, the maximum limit of Rs 1.5 lakhs per year applies to the deposits made minor and the major’s guardian’s account, collectively. Grandparents cannot open an account in the names of their minor Grandchildren.
  • The Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are not eligible for opening a PPF account. But the account-holders who leave the country and obtain a non-resident status after opening the account can continue to maintain their accounts until it matures i.e. until the end of the accounts 15-year term. The NRIs are restricted to extend the account tenures at maturity.
  • The HUFs (Hindu Undivided Family) cannot open the accounts. This has been effective since 2005. The HUFs who have their accounts opened before 13th May 2005 can be continued till the maturity period. Further extensions are restricted. An individual cannot open an account for a HUF (Hindu Undivided Family).
  • The foreigners are also restricted from opening a PPF account.

Documents Required for Open a PPF account

The documents that are required to open a PPF account are the KYC documents. The KYC documents are discussed below:

  • Passport, PAN Card, Aadhaar card, Driving License, Voter’s ID, Employee’s Letter, Utility Bill, rental/ lease agreement, Bank account statements, Ration cards, Signed Cheque etc.
  • Latest Passport size photographs
  • The account opening application form, along with the nomination form-(if you want to add any nominees). This is completely optional.
  • Banks may ask you for some additional documents. In case if minors, carry the age-proof. The age-proof can be a birth certificate or school certificate.

Opening a PPF Account: Different Modes

The PPF accounts can be opened either by visiting a Post-Office or a Bank Branch or online via Net banking. An account can be opened with a minimum amount of Rs 100 but the total deposit for the year should be a minimum of Rs 500/-.

At a Post-Office or a Bank

The accounts can be opened by visiting the nearest Post-Office or bank branch. You can also open the account via online internet banking. The step by step procedure to open a PPF account is as follows:

  • To open a PPF account, you need to have a saving bank account in the designated branch of SBI or any other approved banks.
  • The following documents are required for the opening of the bank account:
  • Account opening form, which should be duly filled (this can be taken from the designated bank branch)
  • ID Proof- This can be Passport, Aadhaar card, PAN Card, Driving License as per the Bank’s KYC Norms)
  • Address Proof- Utility Bills
  • Two recent photographs
  • Al the documents should be self-attested

It is preferable to open a PPF account in the bank rather than the Post Offices because with banks, you can deposit the cash online as well as offline. This can be very helpful if you have relocated from the city of your home branch.

How to Open a PPF Account Online

The step-by-step procedure of opening a PPF account is as follows:

  • Firstly, you need to open a bank savings account.
  • Then you need to login to your saving bank account online panel and apply from there.
  • Fill in the required details in the application form and submit it.
  • Once the online form is submitted it must be printed, signed and deposited in the nearest bank branch.
  • Such online account is linked to your savings account and you can easily see your PPF balance online.

List of Banks Where PPF Account Can Be Opened

  1. State Bank of India
  2. State Bank of Travancore
  3. State Bank of Hyderabad
  4. State Bank of Mysore
  5. State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur
  6. State Bank of Patiala
  7. Allahabad Bank
  8. Bank of Baroda
  9. Bank of India
  10. Bank of Maharashtra
  11. Canara Bank
  12. Central Bank of India
  13. Corporation Bank
  14. Dena Bank
  15. IDBI Bank
  16. Indian Overseas Bank
  17. Oriental Bank of Commerce
  18. Punjab National Bank
  19. Union Bank of India
  20. United Bank of India
  21. Andhra Bank
  22. Vijaya Bank
  23. Punjab and Sind Bank
  24. UCO Bank
  25. ICICI BANK
  26. AXIS BANK

Withdrawals and Closure of the PPF Account

The PPF accounts cannot be closed before the maturity period which means before the end of the year 15. If in case your account gets deactivated, the funds that are deposited cannot be withdrawn until the end of the 15 years. After the completion of 15 years, you can withdraw the entire amount along with the interest accrued.

However, the account holders are in need of funds, the scheme allows partial withdrawals from the year 7 which means on completing 6 years. The amount that can be withdrawn is capped at 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 the withdrawal. Withdrawals can be made only once in a Financial Year.

Extension and Renewal of the PPF Account

  • Although the accounts get matured at the end of the 15th financial year from the date the account is opened, the account holders can tend to choose to extend the term period of the maturity. The tenures can be extended in the blocks of 5 years with or without making any further investments.
  • If no fresh maturity is made after the Maturity: the account will continue to earn interest on the amount accrued until the end of the 15th year. In this case, the funds can be withdrawn once every financial year.
  • If fresh investments are made after maturity: The new deposits will be added to the balance that is held at the end of the 15th year and the interest will be calculated on the entire amount. However, the 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.

Public Provident Fund Calculator

A PPF calculator is an online official tool which is used to help in the planning of PPF investment schemes. This tool is provided for free. It is usually featured in the bank’s/ post office’s website or on a third party financial services and provider sites. It is mainly useful for those who are investing under the PPF Scheme.

Benefits of the Public Provident Calculator

  • It helps the account holder or the potential depositors to calculate interest on PPF deposits and maturity amounts. It provides the results accurate. The tool is user-friendly and costs no charge.
  • The results are displayed in the form of tables and charts which indicates how much has accrued in the account as principal, interest and expect on maturity.
  • The calculator guides the account holders of how much to invest or choose their extended maturity period under both the additional criteria’s – with or without additional deposits.
  • The PPF Calculator serves as a very handy tool in case of the Loans and Withdrawals, as it makes quick calculations to reach the latest account balances after accounting all the debts.
  • The PPF accounts as an investment can be tracked and compared with the other instruments like Post Office Savings Schemes, FDs, RDs, and Mutual Funds etc. to check the returns and perform different investment choices.
  • When the investments are made, they can be either in the lump-sum form or in instalments. The calculations for these can be very complex and confusing. And as we know, that the interest rates always change for every financial year. Therefore, the balances are needed to be calculated very carefully which the Deposit Calculators do it very well.
  • There are also the limitations to borrowing and withdrawing from a PPF account. The PPF calculators help the account holders to determine how much they can borrow or invest or withdraw based on these limitations.

Important Notes

  1. Under the Public Provident Fund, an individual can hold only one account.
  2. The branch charges a penalty of Rs 50/- if the account is inactive. You will have to deposit a minimum amount of Rs 500 every year the account is inactive as well as Rs 500 if you are activating the account.
  3. No interest is calculated for the year, the account is inactive. Once the account is revived, the interest will be calculated on the balance held on the revival.
  4. The maximum investment amount to deposit is Rs 1.5 Lakhs, it is applicable for all the age criteria.
  5. The extensions are made in the block of 5 years each.
  6. It is not mandatory to mention all the nominee’s name in the PPF account.
  7. No joint accounts are allowed in the PPF account.

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