The National Pension System (NPS) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) are feasible options for saving money. Both NPS and EPF enable one to save regularly, which can grow into a considerable amount by the time the user retires. Although both the saving options give tax benefits and are government-sponsored schemes, there are basic differences relating to the quantum of tax exemptions that can be utilized, degree of flexibility of determining the equity exposure and rate of return, among other things.
The EPFO has almost six crore active accounts and manages a corpus of about Rs 10 lakh crore. For the final settlement of the PF deposit, a subscriber has to select Form 19 while for part withdrawal a user can select Form 31.
EPF Vs NPS: Which is better?
1- Tax Benefits: Under section 80C, the employees’ contribution into the EPF is allowed to be deducted up to Rs 1,50,000. This is the maximum amount that can be deducted from a subscriber’s basic salary. As for NPS, subscribers can get a maximum of Rs 2 lakh in total, according to the Income-tax (I-T) Act. EPF offers its subscribers to save tax at all the three levels of contribution, interest accrual and at the time of withdrawal after retirement. However, NPS offers tax saving at the first two stages of contribution and interest accrual, but withdrawals are taxable. The lumpsum withdrawal in NPS will be exempt up to 40 percent of such withdrawals.
2- Equity Exposure: EPF subscribers are allowed to invest a maximum of 15 per cent of their salary into equity. NPS subscribers can have up to 75 per cent equity exposure.
3. Flexibility: NPS is more flexible than EPF. In case of EPF, the subscriber cannot choose his/her fund manager, whereas NPS offers this flexibility. As of now, there are seven fund managers offering varying rates of returns. These seven fund managers are HDFC Pension Fund, ICICI Prudential Pension, Kotak Pension Fund, LIC Pension Fund, Reliance Capital Pension, SBI Pension Fund and UTI Retirement Solutions.
In NPS, the user can switch from one investment option to another or from one fund manager to another, to certain regulatory restrictions. The interest rates on NPS are totally market-related.
4. Accounts: EPF subscribers are allowed to operate only one account that is linked to the UAN. As for NPS, subscribers can open two accounts, where the first one is compulsory and the second one is a voluntary account. One should note that in the second account of NPS withdrawal is permitted.
5. Mandatory/ Optional: EPF is compulsory for every company in which 20 or more people are employed. The NPS account is mandatory only for government employees. However, private sector employees can also open an NPS account and avail its benefits.