What is PPF? Investing for Your Future

April 15, 2024
what is ppf

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You may have often heard of a PPF account or a public provident fund. You may even have stopped to wonder about what a PPF is or what is a public provident fund. Worry you not, we have a detailed answer waiting for you!

PPF stands for Public Provident Fund. It is a long-term savings scheme brought to the people by the Government of India. It is ideal for investment if you want to have long-term savings or long-term financial goals. Therefore, lots of people choose to have a PPF account for their retirement savings.

In this article, we will talk about what is PPF, the public provident fund scheme, public provident fund benefits, and how to invest in PPF, among many other useful pointers! Read through this article to inform yourself thoroughly about the PPF scheme and make wise investment decisions.

Understanding the PPF Account

PPF stands for Public Provident Fund. It is a safe investment option that allows you to save on taxes. A PPF account also helps you earn guaranteed returns since it is a scheme started by the Government of India. A PPF investment is long-term.

It is ideal if you are planning to save up for long-term financial goals. These goals can involve plans like retirement plans and funding the education of your children. It helps you accumulate funds while reducing yearly taxes.

Any Indian citizen can open a PPF account. This includes salaried individuals, self-employed people, and minors. NRIs are not eligible to open a PPF under the PPF scheme or make a PPF investment.

There is only one type of PPF account that you can open. One person can only have one PPF account to their name. Parents can also open a PPF for their minor children.
The returns and interests earned on a public provident fund investment are not taxable under the income tax. It has an interest rate of 7.1% per annum. You can invest a minimum of Rs. 500 in your PPF account. The maximum amount that you can invest is Rs. 1.5 Lakhs per annum.

Under the PPF scheme, you have to open a PPF account. The amount that you deposit in a year can be claimed under Section 80C deductions.

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Features of a PPF Account

Investment TypeLong-term saving scheme
Initiated ByGovernment of India
Ideal ForIndividuals planning long-term financial goals
EligibilityIndian citizens (excluding NRIs) including minors
Account LimitOne per person; Parents can open for minors.
Interest RateCurrently 7.1% per annum
Minimum InvestmentRs. 500 per year
Maximum InvestmentRs. 1.5 lakhs per annum
Tax BenefitsSection 80C deductions; Tax-exempt interest and withdrawals.
Tenure15 years, extendable indefinitely in blocks of 5 years.
Deposit FrequencyMinimum one deposit per year, maximum 12 deposit per year.
Deposit MethodsCash, cheque, demand draft
Interest CalculationPremature closure is allowed in specific circumstances.
Account ClosurePremature closure allowed in specific circumstances.

Opening a PPF Account

Now that you know what is PPF, you may be wondering about how to invest in PPF. For that, you will first have to open a public provident fund account in the PPF scheme.

Opening an account involves a very simple procedure:

  • Go to your nearest bank account or post office which is authorized to open a PPF account. You can also open your account online by visiting such banks’ websites or the Indian Post Payments Bank (IPPB) website.
  • Provide your details in the account opening form like your name, address, phone number, etc. You can also nominate a person who will receive the returns of your account in case of your death.
  • Make sure to submit all the required documents like photocopies of your PAN card, Adhaar card, address proofs like passport, etc.
  • Deposit the amount that you want to invest. The minimum amount that you can invest in the PPF scheme of 500 Rs. The maximum amount is Rs. 1.5 Lakhs. You can deposit this amount in many ways- through cash, cheque, or demand draft.
  • Once your account is opened, you will receive a passbook. This passbook will have the details of the account. These details involve the account number, the amount deposited, interest earned, etc.

Deposits and Withdrawals

The minimum amount that you can deposit into your PPF account is Rs. 500. The maximum amount of public provident fund investment that you can make is Rs. 1.5 Lakhs.

Investors can make deposits in their PPF accounts as per their schedule but there are certain limitations one has to bear in mind. An investor can make a minimum of one and a maximum of 12 deposits in a financial year to their public provident fund account. The combined amount deposited should not exceed Rs. 1.5 Lakhs in a financial year.

The amount that you want to invest can be submitted through cash, cheque, or demand drafts to the banks or post office where you have opened the PPF account.

The Finance Ministry sets the interest rates for public provident fund investment every year which is paid on 31st March. This interest is calculated on the lowest balance between the fifth day and the last day of every month.

All deposits made to a PPF account are deductible to Section 80C of the Income Tax Act in the Constitution. The amount of interest earned on the amount invested is also exempted from tax when you withdraw it. However, it is to be noted that public provident fund accounts cannot be closed prematurely.

Tenure and Extension

A PPF account has a tenure of 15 years. Investors can extend this tenure by 5 years when the account reaches maturity. Extensions can be sought indefinitely in blocks of 5 years every time the account matures.

During the period of extension, investors cannot make fresh contributions to their accounts. The interest will continue adding up at the prevailing rate. The investor can withdraw the entire balance amount at any point during the extended period.

The PPF lock-in period is 15 years and the public provident fund account cannot be closed before it matures. However, some circumstances can help you make an exception to this rule. These include:

  • In case of the death of the account holder, the account can be closed prematurely.
  • If the account holder changes their residence to somewhere outside of India, their account can be closed prematurely. They will need to produce proof of their change of residence though.
  • If the account holder or their minor child is set to receive higher education and needs money for it, the account can be closed in such a case.

Benefits of PPF

The Public Provident Fund is a highly popular long-term investment scheme in India. This is so because of the benefits that it offers. Let us look at some PPF benefits:

  • Tax benefits: The interest earned on the money invested in the public provident fund scheme is tax-free. PPF tax benefit allows investors to save on taxes.
  • High returns: The PPF accounts have a higher rate of returns as compared to the other fixed-income investment schemes available. The interest rate is 7.1% per annum as of 2023.
  • Low risk: The public provident fund scheme is offered by the Government of India and therefore, has guaranteed returns. This makes it safe and low-risk as an investment option.
  • Long-term savings: The PPF lock-in period is 15 years which makes it an ideal scheme for investing in long-term savings.
  • Loan facility: PPF accounts allow their investors to take loans on the balance amount after the completion of their third financial year. The loan can be paid off in installments.

Drawbacks of PPF

Having a PPF account comes with its own set of drawbacks. These are:

  • Long lock-in period: The PPF lock-in period is 15 years. This means that the investors cannot withdraw their funds from their accounts until the account has matured. This is not suitable for people who may require funds in the short term.
  • Annual deposit requirement: There are limitations on how much one can invest in a PPF account. A minimum of Rs. 500 and a maximum of Rs. 1.5 Lakhs can be invested in the public provident fund scheme.
  • Limitations on deposits: You can also only make 12 deposits in a financial year and the amount combining all of your deposits should not exceed 1.5 Lakhs.
  • No liquidity: Due to the 15-year lock-in period of the PPF scheme, there is no liquidity provided to the investors. They cannot withdraw their funds before the account matures. This makes things hard for investors who need their money in a short amount of time.

How Does PPF Stack Up Against Other Investment Options

PPF V/S Fixed Deposit

  • The interest rate set by the government for PPF is currently higher than the rate set for Fixed Deposits.
  • The lock-in period of PPF is 15 years whereas for FD, it can vary anywhere between 7 days to 10 years.
  • PPF offers tax benefits whereas FD does not. Its interests are taxable.
  • There is no upper limit for investment in FD but there is a limit of Rs. 1.5 Lakhs in public provident fund accounts.

PPF vs Mutual Funds

  • Mutual funds are subject to market risks and therefore offer higher returns than public provident fund investments.
  • PPF has a lock-in period of 15 years whereas mutual funds do not have a lock-in period.
  • Mutual funds can be volatile because they are subject to market risks but public provident fund accounts are safe, low-risk investments.

Public Provident Funds have certain advantages over other investment options which makes them so popular. These advantages include:

  • They are safe, low-risk investments.
  • They have guaranteed returns.
  • They are good for long-term investments since they have a lock-in period of 15 years.
  • They allow for partial withdrawals and loans before their lock-in period is complete.
  • They offer huge tax benefits of up to Rs. 1.5 Lakhs per annum.

Secure Savings and Long-Term Growth

In this article, we learned about what is PPF, the public provident fund tax scheme, PPF tax benefits, etc. The public provident fund is a low-risk, safe investment option for those people who are looking for long-term investments. One may even choose a nominee for their account and these accounts can be opened for minors as well.

The PPF lock-in period is 15 years but partial withdrawals and taking loans on your public provident fund balance are allowed. All in all, it is a great scheme because it also offers you tax benefits. Interests and returns earned on PPF investments are not liable to taxation under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

Want to explore helpful techniques to save and grow your hard-earned money? Dive into our guide on Save Money.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is the minimum and maximum amount I can deposit in a PPF account?

In a Public Provident Fund (PPF) account, the minimum annual deposit is Rs. 500, while the maximum contribution allowed per financial year is Rs. 1.5 lakh. This flexibility allows individuals to invest according to their financial capabilities. It is important to note that the deposited amount should be within these limits to avail of the benefits associated with a PPF account.

Can I open multiple PPF accounts?

No, an individual is not allowed to open multiple PPF accounts for themselves. According to the rules, a person can have only one public provident fund account in their name. Opening multiple accounts is considered a violation and can lead to penalties. However, they can contribute to a PPF account in the name of their spouse or children, subject to the overall contribution limit of Rs. 1.5 lakh per financial year.

Is premature closure of a PPF account allowed? What are the penalties?

Premature closure of accounts is allowed only under certain circumstances which include medical emergencies, higher education, and death of the account holder. The penalty amount is equal to 1% lower than the interest rate applicable to the PPF account.

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