When it comes to retirement-oriented schemes or investments, Employees Provident Fund or EPF is considered as the most secure bet as it is backed by the government of India. For the fiscal year 2020-21, EPF is currently fetching an interest rate of 8.50% according to the Central Board of Trustees of Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). If compared to the prevailing interest rates of bank fixed deposits, Public Provident Fund (PPF), and other small savings schemes, the interest return of EPF is outstanding. Apart from the interest rate perk, you can also withdraw your EPF corpus according to your convenience. But there are some rules and conditions you need to follow if you are a subscriber of EPF and want to make a withdrawal based on your need.
According to EPFO, you can withdraw your EPF corpus before 5 years of completion of service or employment if you have lost or quit your job. However, an EPF subscriber can withdraw up to 75% of the accrued corpus after 1 month of becoming unemployed. That being said, such withdrawals are taxable under income tax laws. In case an employee is jobless for more than two months, then he or she can even withdraw the outstanding 25% corpus. This implies that after two months of being unemployed, the employee can withdraw his or her entire PF balance. The benefit of making a non-refundable advance is that with your active EPF account you can withdraw your pension corpus post-retirement and even your PF account subscription will not get terminated, and you can easily transfer your remaining or outstanding corpus to your new employer.
According to an EPFO rule, the two-month holding period does not apply to women who quit their employment in order to get married. However, employees over the age of 54 can withdraw up to 90% of their PF amount after turning 54, but no later than one year after retirement on superannuation, whichever comes first. Withdrawing from an EPF before five years of continuous employment is subject to taxation. If you withdraw your EPF post 5 years of continuous employment, the amount you withdraw, which includes both principal and interest is tax-free. However, withdrawals made before the fifth year are tax-free in the following circumstances:
- Due to serious illness of the employee or employer's discontinuance of operation.
- Withdrawals undertaken for reasons that do not fall under the employer's authority are also tax-free.
- The taxation rule is not levied on any advance made under the EPF Scheme.
- TDS is not charged in withdrawal instances when the amount is less than Rs 50,000 or the employer is winding down the organization.
If the withdrawal amount exceeds Rs 50,000 and the term of service is shorter than five years, the member can file Form 15G/15H to avoid TDS of 10% if his or her income falls under the taxable threshold. TDS will be levied if you withdraw from EPF before reaching 5 years of continuous employment. Your former employer's employment is also considered while determining 5 years of service. TDS is not levied if a subscriber transfers his or her EPF account from one employer to another and has worked for the same employer for 5 years or more.
In case of a job change and under your current employer if you withdraw your PF balance including the amount transferred from your PF account of your previous employer upon leaving that employer, the withdrawn amount will be exempted from tax.