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PPF (Public Provident Fund) Investment: Should You Invest Your Money?

Public Provident Fund or PPF is a long term saving account with excellent tax benefits of up to 1.5lakhs per annum under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. The primary objective of PPF is an intake of an annual amount from PPF account holders and returning some interest at the current rate. Monitored by the Central Government, a PPF account matures 15 years after its commencement. But there is a provision of an extension of an account for more than 1 blocks, where each block denotes 5 years.

PPF: All you need to know

Why Should You Invest In PPF?

Public Provident Fund is one of the safest long-term investment plans for citizens of India. It is monitored by the government and ensures excellent return rates (generally between 8 to 9 percent). The initial cost incurred to invest in PPF is very less (minimum INR 500) hence it can be availed by many. Also, it is liable to tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

Rate Of Interest

The rate of Interest offered on PPF is almost constant. Each year the government revises this rate. Given below is a data sheet for the rates of Interest over the last 5 financial years.

 

FINANCIAL YEAR

CORRESPONDING RATE OF INTEREST

2012-2013

8.8%

2013-2014

8.7%

2014-2015

8.7%

2015-2016

8.7%

2016-2017

8.1%

How To Open A PPF Account

There are few eligibility criteria concerned with the opening of a PPF account. If an Indian citizen has fulfilled those criterions, a PPF account can be opened. The required documents need to be submitted while opening a PPF account. There are generally two methods of opening a PPF account

  • At Bank or Post Office
  • Via online portal

To get the complete details of opening a PPF account including the complete list of documents and eligibility criteria you can read more here: How To Open A Public Provident Fund Account

Maintaining A PPF Account

In order to maintain a PPF account till maturity, a contribution of minimum INR 500 has to be made each year to the account. If a PPF account is opened for a minor (less than 18 years), a guardian must oversee the proceedings related to the account. There is no upper limit for depositing money to a PPF account, though the minimum cannot fall below INR 500. Also, interest is calculated on amounts up to 1.5lakhs only. This investment amount can either be deposited as a lump sum or in 12 installments. A compounded interest on the deposited amount will be calculated and credited to the account holder annually. The rate of interest for the FY 2016-2017 is 8.10%.

PPF vs Other Plans

Before you decide whether to invest in PPF or not, compare it with other schemes and then decide:

PPF or Fixed Deposit

Depending on your age, liability, and other conditions, you may choose to invest in PPF or FD. To help you decide where to put your money in, I have written a detailed post on PPF vs Fixed deposits.

PPF or EFP

Between PPF and EPF, if you are confused about which investment is better for your, check out this article on PPF vs EPF.

PPF vs ELSS

If you are yet to decide which would be a better option in between PPF and ELSS, check out the detailed post on PPF vs ELSS

Alternatives To PPF

As per the above comparisons and studies conducted, there are several alternatives to opening a PPF account. These alternatives will ensure better financial gains plus the flexibility factor is greater. Here are following alternatives you can consider:

  • Equity Linked Savings Scheme type Mutual Funds
  • SIP (Systemic Investment Plan) Investments
  • Real Estate
  • Employees Provident Fund (For working citizens)

PPF FAQs:

Who should invest in Public Provident Fund?

PPF is one of the best investments if you are looking for long term savings and retirement options. Also, it is government monitored, so the risk factor is less. Thus an investor with low-risk appetite and long term financial return goals must invest here.

What are the better investment options?

ELSS Scheme of mutual funds is a better investment option as comparatively. It has a lock period of 3 years with higher returns and similar tax savings. But when it comes to matters of risk, PPF is a comparatively a low-risk scheme, as ELSS depends on private and market share values and PPF is government set scheme where returns are fixed. In terms of tax savings NPS is a better option, but in the long run, PPF is better in terms of flexibility.

 Can interest be earned on failure to maintain the account?

For each year that the account remains inactive, no interest is earned as the account is deactivated. In the case of revival of account, a compounded interest will be earned on the remaining balance.

Can joint accounts be held?

No, in the case of Public Provident Fund, joint accounts are not allowed. One person can open one account. However, there is a provision for a nomination.

Who can open an account for a minor?

Only parents and legal guardians are allowed to monitor an account opened for a minor. Grandparents are not allowed this provision.

How to calculate interests gained from a Public Provident Fund Account?

All investments made on or before 5th of a month is liable for interest calculation. For example, if you deposit INR 75,000 on 1st August and INR 75,000 on 15th August, then a compound interest will be calculated on INR 75,000 only.

Drawbacks Of PPF

Every scheme is subject to its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Similarly, as there are several advantages of a PPF account there are few disadvantages. An individual must be fully informed about the following drawbacks before proceeding to open a PPF account:

  • The maturity period of 15 years is too long a time period. Thus it is not easy to liquefy the monetary assets invested in PPF. Even in the case of premature withdrawal, the amount withdrawn is subject to various terms and conditions. Hence, the flexibility of lock-in period is very less.
  • Interests in PPF is calculated up to an investment of INR 1.5 Lakhs per annum. Thus anyone investing more than that amount at once is liable to definite losses.

Maturity Of PPF Account

The Public Provident Fund account holder has 3 options on the maturity of the account:

  • Completely withdrawing the lump sum generated on maturity. Thus a case where the investor has invested 1lakh per annum in PPF for 15 years, they will receive a lump sum of 30lakhs on maturity. Thus the return rate is high.
  • Extension of PPF Account Without Extra Deposit: After the maturity of the PPF, if has been extended for one block of years, then the subscriber may make deposits and withdrawals based on sole discretion. As to deposits, there are no conditions applied, but when it comes to withdrawal, only one withdrawal is allowed per financial year for an extended account. The remaining amount is annuitized.
  • Extension of PPF Account With Extra Deposit: After the maturity period an account holder can choose to deposit extra into the PPF account and extend it further. In this case, the account holder can withdraw 60% of the money in the account within one block of 5 years. Only one withdrawal can be made annually.

Lock-In Period And Withdrawal Scheme For A Public Provident Fund Account

A PPF account as a lock period of 15 years. But there is a flexibility in this scheme. After the beginning of the 7th financial year following the commencement of the account, withdrawals can be made. The amount that can be withdrawn is either of the followings which is lower:

  • The withdrawal amount is equal to 50% of the amount that is present after the 4th financial year preceding the year of withdrawal.
  • The withdrawal amount is equal to 50% of the amount at the end of the preceding year.

Reviving A PPF Account In Case Of Failure To Maintain It

If a subscriber fails to pay the minimum amount of INR 500 to maintain the PPF account, the account is deactivated. In order to revive the account, the account holder must pay an additional INR 50 along with the minimum contribution of INR 500 for each inactive year. Public Provident Fund has the provision of nomination. Thus failure to maintain an account in the case of death of the primary account holder has other rules. In such a case, the entire amount can be withdrawn by the nominee or heir as the account cannot continue in the absence of primary holder.

Closing A PPF Account Prematurely

To increase the flexibility of a PPF account, changes were made regarding the premature closing of an account in 2016. After the end of 5 years, an account can be closed and the entire amount can be withdrawn in case of medical necessities or education. But, a penalty of 1% of the interest has to be borne by the account holder.

How To Close A PPF Account: Permanent Closure

After the maturity period of 15 years, if you wish to close down your PPF account it can be done via your respective Bank or Post Office. There are certain conditions as far as closing your account is concerned.

  • You can completely withdraw your funds from the PPF account. The funds withdrawn are subject to the set interest rates, hence you can earn the complete interest amount.
  • There is also an option to withdraw the amount in installments. But this option can be availed for only a year after the maturity.
  • If you do not close your PPF account after maturity, you will continue to earn an interest. But you cannot add any further monetary funds to that account. Also, a new PPF account can only be opened if you close your existing account.

How To Open A Public Provident Fund Account

Public Provident Fund is one of the most efficient schemes introduced by the government of India for all citizens of the country. The Public Provident Fund Account is liable for excellent tax benefits as the interest earned on PPF deposits are free from taxes. Then the contributors to PPF Scheme can claim tax deductions and get good returns, making it the most beneficial investment especially from the post-retirement point of view. Given below are all details regarding opening a PPF account.

PPF account

Public Provident Fund Account Requirements

Various regulations guide an investor who wants to open a PPF Account. There are certain eligibility criterions laid down along with documents to be provided to commence the account. To maintain the account there are various requirements to be fulfilled both financially and legally. Further details are specified next.

Eligibility Criteria For PPF Account

Given below are the eligibility rules that stand for individuals interested to open a PPF Account:

  • Only an Indian citizen is allowed to open a PPF account.
  • The starting age for opening a proper PPF account is 18 years. There is no upper limit in age.
  • If a PPF account is to be opened for a Minor (citizen below 18 years) then a deposit limit of 1.5lakhs is set per annum. Also, a minor’s account can be opened only the parents or legal guardian.
  • The account can only be opened by an Indian citizen residing in India. No NRI’s are allowed to open a PPF account. But, if an Indian resident becomes an NRI post opening of the PPF account, they are allowed to continue with the account until the date of maturity.
  • One person is eligible to open only one PPF Account.
  • Post-May 2005, Hindu Undivided Families have been disallowed from opening PPF accounts. If any citizen belonging to HUF is an account holder before 2005, they are allowed to maintain the account till the date of maturity.

Documents Required To Open A PPF Account

Following are the list of documents needed to open a PPF account. All the most updated copies of the documents are required.

  • Updated Passport, Aadhaar UID Card, PAN Card, Rental Documents/Residential Proof, Letter of the Employer, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Statement Records of Bank Accounts, Cheque Signed By the prospective account holder(Signature Proof). Also, keep copies of all these documents.
  • In addition to these documents, you will need recent photographs.
  • A fully filled and approved form for account opening.
  • Also, a Nomination Form has to be filled in case the account holder is naming nominees.
  • Age proof ID like Birth Certificates in the case of Minors.

Note: The bank may ask for other documents on their sole discretion.

How To Open a PPF account?

A PPF account can be opened at either bank, post offices or online. It is an initial low-cost investment account. It can be opened in the denominations of INR 100, with the total annual deposit of minimum INR 500.

How To Open a PPF account: At Banks or Post Office

The government authorised banks and post offices can be contacted for opening a PPF account. A physical copy of the Account Opening Form can be obtained from the bank or post office. This form is to be filled properly and submitted along with the copies of the required documents as specified by the bank or post office. Then, after approval, an initial deposit is to be made to commence the account.

PPF Accounts can be opened in Banks that have been authorised by the government since this scheme is totally monitored by the Government. Also, sole discretion, the government can withdraw the authority from any bank.

How To Open a PPF account Online

A PPF account can be opened online via the website of any government authorised bank or an agent bank that provides services for the authorized banks. The Account Opening form is to be filled online and submitted through the online portal of the bank. A variety of benefits is provided by some authorised banks like connecting the PPF account with the savings account, generating online statements of the financial assets. All fund transfers can be done online. Thus, with the introduction of the online option, more investors are considering it as compared to the traditional methods of physically opening it at banks or post offices.

Tax Saving Options: Where Should You Invest Your Money

Investment for tax saving is something that confuses every individual. A plethora of choices but an inadequacy of information. So here are the list of all investments and their tax benefits that will definitely help you decide further.

tax saving options

ELSS: Equity Linked Savings Scheme

The financial year 2017-2018, brings a new India under demonetisation and various schemes changing the nature of Tax Saving Act. Equity Linked Savings Scheme is a Mutual Fund which is diverse in nature. It is viable for Tax Exemption under Section 80C. It has a lock period of 3 years meaning that no withdrawal can be done from the ELSS account for 3 years.

Under this scheme, all investors will be having a two-way benefit: high returns on the investment and deduction of taxes.  The biggest advantage here is that dividends that are gained under ELSS schemes are exempt from taxes thus the profit returned is high. Also, ELSS has a short lock period enabling the investor to access the amount invested and the returns easily. All in all, ELSS is the best place to invest your money.

ELSS Rating: 10 Star

Read: Mistakes to avoid while investing your money in ELSS

NPS: National Pension Scheme

The National Pension Scheme has been revised and a New Pension Scheme has been introduced for the benefit of private and semi-government employees. Under this scheme, apart from all government employees, the private employees will also receive an annuitized pension amount on investment in NPS. A huge benefit is that an additional deduction of INR 50,000 will be made in taxes for a citizen investing in NPS.

Thus, the tax deduction on contribution to NPS will be 2lakhs rather than the stipulated 1.5lakhs. When compared to ELSS, the lock period is higher and even after retirement, only 40% of the investment can be withdrawn. Also, the returns may not be as high as ELSS dividends. But as far as tax saving is concerned NPS is an excellent scheme.

NPS Rating: 9 star

NPS: Should you invest your money in NPS

ULIP: Unit Linked Insurance Plan

The Unit Linked Insurance Plan, commonly known as ULIP is like an integrated insurance policy that gives the benefits of both an insurance policy and an investment scheme. It is a flexible scheme that enables the investor to switch between diverse options, invest in other linked schemes or surrendering of the policy. ULIP is viable for tax benefits under the section 80C.

Along with that, the returns on the investments are profitable. The only disadvantage is that withdrawal is not possible from a ULIP account till the sum matures. But apart from that, it is a risk-free scheme giving a three-way benefit: tax savings, returns on investment and insurance cover.

ULIP Rating: 8 Star

PPF: Public Provident Fund

The Public Provident Fund is an integrated monetary savings and tax savings account. This scheme aims at providing a flexible saving by allowing investments and good returns along with tax benefits. The PPF account is an attractive investment scheme as the interests on investments are completely exempt from taxes.

Related article:

How To Open A Public Provident Fund Account

The only drawback is that PPF is monitored by the government hence the interest rates may not be as high as private Mutual Funds. Otherwise, it is an excellent option for someone who is building up a long terms savings account for the period after retirement. PPF also allows benefits in taxes for nominees of the primary account holder.

PPF Rating: 8 Star

VPF: Voluntary Provident Fund

The Voluntary Provident Fund is an extended version of the PPF wherein an investor is allowed to add a stipulated value to the provident fund periodically. It is viable for tax deductions under Section 80C and an amount up to 1lakh can be saved under it. An additional benefit of VPF is that it helps an investor increase the financial assets in the provident fund from time to time. The interests gained on VPF investment is not taxable till the interest rates reach 9.5%. So the disadvantage occurs when the interest rate becomes 9.5%. Otherwise, it is an excellent tax saving and investment option.

VPF Rating: 7 Star

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is a government scheme introduced by Narendra Modi to empower a girl child and ensure proper education for her. The parents of the girl child investing in this scheme will get tax benefits as per Section 80C. Plus the returns on investment made to this account will be used for funding education expenses for the girl child. The disadvantage of this scheme is that it is gender specific so a large number of people cannot avail it. Also, the returns are sometimes insufficient in fulfilling all requirements. But other than that it is an excellent scheme for both tax saving and providing financial security to the girl child.

Sukanya Samriddi Yojana Rating: 6.5 Star

Senior Citizen Savings Scheme

The Senior Citizens Savings scheme is to support all senior citizens by increasing the return rates on their investments. It is an attractive tax saving scheme but the returns are taxable at source if the interest amount exceeds INR 10,000 per annum. Otherwise, it is an excellent scheme with high return rates specifically designed for senior citizens.

Senior Citizen Savings Scheme Rating: 6 Star

NSCS: National Savings Certificates

The National Savings Certificates, most commonly known as NSCS are a risk-free investment option for all working citizens. The investment in NSCS can be made for 5 years or up to a decade and it generates a fixed income like fixed deposits. An annuitized fixed income is returned on this investment at a rate of interest decided by the government of India. This scheme is viable for tax deductions under Section 80C only if the interest gained from NSCS are shown as income. An annual investment up to INR 1 lakh is to be made for tax savings. So apart from the fact that NSCS ensures tax savings only after a few hassles, it is a good investment option with high returns.

NCSC Rating: 5 Star

Bank FDS: Fixed Deposits

Bank Fixed Deposits are a long term investment schemes with fixed returns on maturity. All schemes under fixed deposits do not qualify for tax deductions. Thus to ensure tax saving through Fixed Deposits, an account known as Tax Saving Fixed Deposit needs to be commenced. These fixed deposited are viable to tax deductions up to 1.5lakhs like other tax saving schemes. Though in the long run, the returns generated will not be as high as ELSS. Also, the withdrawal policy is not flexible but it ensures tax savings and a good lump sum after maturity.

Fixed Deposit Rating: 5 star

Related Post:

5 Reasons You Should Invest In A Fixed Deposit Today

Pension Plans

Pension Plans enable an investor to contribute part of their savings in a pension scheme. This amount matures like recurring deposits and thus generates huge monetary accumulations. Thus good income can be gained from pension plans after retirement. The only disadvantage is that no returns are generated from pension funds till the investor reaches an age of 60. Also, after maturity 2/3rd of the returns are treated as income and are taxable at marginal rates. But initially, this is viable to tax deductions up to 1lakh under Section 80C. Thus pension funds help in tax savings for 1/3rd of the lump sum and provide an excellent accumulation, financially.

Pension Plan Rating: 4 Star

Insurance Policies

The tax deductions are separate for all insurance policies. In the case of life insurance, an individual is liable for tax deductions up to 1.5lakhs. After the death of the insured individual, all proceeds are tax-free. In the case of health insurance, the tax deductions are INR 20,000 for senior citizens and 15,000 otherwise.In case the insured individual is facing a life threatening health condition, all proceeds are tax-free.

Also Read: This is why you should invest in LIC

Thus from the tax saving point of view insurance policies do not have much to offer. But in the long run, insurance is an important necessity.

Insurance Plan Rating: 3 Star

 

Why You Should Invest In LIC

Life Insurance Corporation or LIC is the largest and most trustworthy investment policy.  Having great diversity and worth is what makes it gain the confidence of every individual who has invested in it. What makes it the best is that it understands the need of its investors and offers the appropriate policies that cater to that need. Here is why LIC should be the first choice.

LIC policy

LIC Is A Government Backed Policy

LIC was the oldest life insurance policy to be introduced in India. Therefore it gained a lot of trust from the nation making it a government-backed policy. The market of today faces a huge economic reform. In such a scenario a government-backed organisation will be in a more advantageous position than any private insurance company because it will provide better security and cover.

Flexible Organisation

Since it was first introduced LIC has been one of the most flexible life insurance companies. It recognises the demands or various investors based on their role and net-worth. Thus it has framed various different insurance plans according to the needs of its customers. These policies are not very expensive and offer a variety of benefits alongside.

Benefits Provided By Various Plans

LIC has 4 diverse insurance plans that cater to different needs:

  • New Endowment Plan
  • Money Back Plan
  • Jeevan Anand Plan
  • Jeevan Saral Plan

New Endowment Plan provides a strong financial security as it gives very high returns. On the death of the individual insured, the amount returned is 10 times the principal invested. Also, policy assures regular dividends on the principal sum.

Money Back Plan allows the customers to share in the profits of LIC and returns accordingly. A survival benefit is available which pays back 20% of the assured return at the end of 5, 10 and 15 years of investment.

Jeevan Anand Plan is a high return policy and offers a large reversionary amount (amount paid in case of death of the individual invested). Also, it provides risk benefits in case of accidental death of the insured person. Thus it acts like an endowment and life insurance.

Jeevan Saral Plan is like a premium endowment fund with very high returns. A monthly amount is to be invested into this scheme and the reversionary bonus is 250 times the monthly premium. Also, it is a flexible policy which an investor can back out from partially after 3 years. This plan also offers accidental death benefits along with the matured premium amount.