Want to withdraw from your provident fund account? Here's how!
A provident fund (PF) is basically a plan to provide financial security after retirement. It is, therefore, not advisable to withdraw any amount from one's provident fund account as PFs are primarily meant for retirement planning, and retirement planning is the most important goal in any person's life.
"No need to say one should avoid doing so unless there is a great emergency, as the amount should be utilized post one retires or in case one stops working and his/ her earnings have depleted. For other emergencies, one should look at money from investments in other instruments like debt funds, liquid funds or a savings bank account, etc," suggests Anil Chopra, Group CEO, Bajaj Capital.
In fact, there are various advantages of investing in a provident fund (PF). Generally, the return on provident fund is higher than inflation, and is totally tax fee. Thus, withdrawing out of it would have the following consequences:
1) Retirement planning would go haywire
2) Tax-free status would be lost because that money cannot be put back. For example, let's say, someone has a balance of Rs 50 lakh in his provident fund account, and he wishes to withdraw Rs 25 lakh out of that. This amount of Rs 25 lakh cannot be put back into it later, as it is not allowed as per rules.
Therefore, "withdrawal from a PF account is generally discouraged, as the purpose of opening it and accumulating money there is mainly for the second innings of your life, which is post retirement," says Chopra.
Nitin Vyakaranam, Founder & CEO, Arthayantra.com, is of similar opinion. "Withdrawing PF stands out as the classic case of lack of prioritization and holistic approach in our financial decision making process. By making withdrawals from the PF to fund other goals, we end up pushing our retirement age or making higher contributions towards building retirement fund during the last few years of our employment," he says.
However, in case one wants to withdraw money from his/ her PF account, the rules for the same are very stringent, which also vary as per the types of provident funds. In India PFs are of three kinds:
a) Public Provident Fund (PPF) - For general public
b) Employees Provident Fund (EPF) - For private sector employees
C) General Provident Fund (GPF) - For government sector employees
In case of PPF, which is normally meant for 15 years, withdrawal is allowed before that also, but under very stringent norms. For example, no amount can be withdrawn at all for the first six years. After six years, the amount equivalent to 50 per cent of the balance, which was there more than 3 years ago, can be withdrawn. Thus, the entire money cannot be withdrawn before the end of 15 years. Even after 15 years, it can be rolled over for another period of 5 years and after that every five years it can be rolled over or closed.
Similarly, in case of EPF or GPF, withdrawal is not allowed generally unless one has given up working or wants to be self-employed, etc. As per EPF rules, you are allowed to withdraw money only if you have no job at the time of withdrawing your fund and if 2 months have passed. Only transfer is allowed in case you have switched to a new job. Some people, however, withdraw the EPF after 60 days of leaving the organization, stating that they don't have any job, but this is illegal as per the EPF rules, if you are doing so after switching to a new job.
Thus, if you have no job at the time of withdrawing your fund and if 2 months have passed after leaving your organisation, then you are allowed to withdraw the fund. A declaration is required to be given stating the reason for the same. Otherwise, partial withdrawal is allowed in certain cases, which is in the form of loan, where one has to pay back that amount later and before that, has to state the reason for opting for withdrawal, for example, self or daughter's marriage, buying a home, education of self or children, medical treatment for self or family, among others.
There are certain specified criteria under which partial withdrawal is permitted. In case of education or marriage, for instance, the employee should have completed at least 7 years of employment or service. The maximum aggregate withdrawal can't exceed 50 per cent of the total contributions made by you and withdrawal can be made only thrice during a person's total service tenure. Proof of education or wedding is also required to be submitted.
Likewise withdrawal is permitted for medical treatment of self, spouse, parents and children. In this case, however, there is no restriction regarding the number of years of service. But the maximum amount one can withdraw is six times the basic salary and proof of hospitalization is required.