EPF (Employee Provident Fund) is a retirement benefit scheme that’s available to all salaried employees. This fund is maintained and overseen by the Employees Provident Fund Organization of India (EPFO) and any company with over 20 employees is required by law to register with the EPFO.
The employer contribution to your EPF is tax-free, and your contribution is tax-deductible under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. The money you invest in EPF, the interest earned and the money you eventually withdraw after the mandatory specified period (5 years) are exempt from Income Tax Benefit from employer and employee.
Who is eligible?
Provident Fund Deduction from Salary
When you start working, you and your employer both contribute 12% of your basic salary (plus dearness allowances, if any) into your EPF account . The entire 12% of your contribution goes into your EPF account along with 3.67% (out of 12%) from your employer, while the balance 8.33% from your employer’s side is diverted to your EPS (Employee’s Pension Scheme) . It’s important to note that if your basic pay is above Rs. 6,500 per month, your employer can only contribute 8.33% of 6,500 (i.e. Rs. 541) to your EPS and the balance goes into your EPF account.
These funds are pooled together from many employees like yourself and invested by a trust. This generates an interest of 8% - 12%, which is decided by the government and the central board of trustees. The annual interest rate is available on the official EPF India website, and is currently at 8.75%.
What if I don’t want to pay PF ?
Well, chances are that you’ve already started your professional career. The only time you can opt out of the EPF program is at the start of your career, when you tell your first boss that you don’t want to be a part of it and fill out Form 11 . If you’ve contributed towards EPF even once and have an account created in your name, you cannot opt out of this scheme.
Don’t worry though, as even though opting out of the EPF scheme increases your in-hand salary, it’s the easiest way to build a retirement fund. Having a little less spending power now could mean financial stability later. With the pooling of funds from you and your employer and the relatively high interest rates, you could be on your way to building a strong corpus of funds, without even realising it.