Public Provident Fund(PPF) scheme is a long term investment option which offers an attractive rate of interest and returns on the amount invested. The interest earned and the returns are not taxable under income Tax. One has to open an PPF account under this scheme and the amount deposited during a year will be claimed under section 80C deductions.
A PPF account can be opened with either a Post Office or with any nationalized bank like the State Bank of India or Punjab National Bank, etc. These days, even certain private banks like ICICI, HDFC and Axis Bank among others are authorized to provide this facility. You need to submit the duly filled application form along with the required documents i.e. the KYC documents like identity proof, address proof, and signature proof. Post submitting these documents you can deposit a prescribed amount towards the opening of the account.
The current interest rate is 8% (for quarter October to December 2018 prior to which it was 7.6%) that is compounded annually. The Finance Ministry set the interest rate every year, which is paid on 31st March. The interest is calculated on the lowest balance between the close of the fifth day and last day or every month.
As a rule, one can close a PPF account only upon maturity i.e. after the completion of 15 years. Upon completion of 15 years, the entire amount standing to the credit of an account holder in the PPF account along with the accrued interest can be withdrawn freely and the account can be closed.
However, if account holders are in need of funds, and wish to withdraw before 15 years, the scheme permits partial withdrawals from year 7 i.e. on completing 6 years.
An account holder can withdraw prematurely, up to a maximum of 50% of the amount that is in the account at the end of the 4th year (preceding the year in which the amount is withdrawn or at the end of the preceding year, whichever is lower). Further, withdrawals can be made only once in a financial year.
In case you wish to partially or completely withdraw the balance lying in your PPF account, you can do so by submitting an application for withdrawal in Form C with the concerned branch of the bank where your PPF account lies. This form is available for download here.
This form has 3 sections:
1. Declaration section where you must provide your PPF account number and the amount of money you propose to withdraw. Along with that, you also need to mention how many years have actually passed since the account was first opened.
2. Office use section which comprises of details like:
3. Bank details section which asks for the details of the bank where the money is to be credited directly or the bank in whose favor the cheque or the demand draft is to be issued.
It is also mandatory to enclose a copy of the PPF passbook along with this application.
PPF is one investment vehicle that falls under the Exempt-Exempt-Exempt (EEE) category. This, in other words, means that all deposits made in the PPF are deductible under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. Furthermore, the accumulated amount and interest is also be exempt from tax at the time of withdrawal.
It is important to note that a PPF account cannot be closed before maturity. A PPF account, however, can be transferred from one point of designation to another. But, do remember that a PPF account cannot be closed prematurely. Only in the case of the account holder’s demise can the nominee’s file for the closure of the account.