NPS ( National Pension Scheme ) - Features, Tax Benefits and Eligibility
The Government of India in order to provide a stable source of income to individuals during their retirement introduced the National Pension Scheme which is administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. This article will help you understand the various aspects that you need to consider when investing in NSC.
NPS as it is popularly known as is an easily accessible, low cost, tax-efficient, flexible and portable retirement savings account. Pension schemes provide financial security and stability during old age when people don’t have a regular source of income. For the purpose of providing social security/welfare to the individual, the employer can also co-contribute to the retirement account along with an individual under this scheme. Retirement plan ensures that people live with dignity and without compromising on their standard of living during later years in life.
Pension scheme gives an opportunity to invest and accumulate savings and get lump sum amount as regular income through annuity plan on retirement. The objectives of this scheme are:
Provide income during retirement
Provides returns comparable to market over the long run
When you join NPS, you’ll be allotted a Permanent Retirement Account Number- PRAN; a 12-digit unique ID number. In case you misplace your PRAN card or it gets stolen, it can be reprinted with additional charges. This unique PRAN can be used from any location in India. Two sub-accounts namely Tier I and Tier II are provided under NPS account:
Withdrawals under this account are not permitted. One can only withdraw the total amount when they meet exit conditions prescribed under NPS. The total tax exemption that is available per annum is INR 2 lakhs ( INR 1.5 Lakhs u/s 80C and INR 50,000 u/s 80CCD) and the minimum amount that one requires to contribute per annum is INR 1000.
One can’t hold it unless they have a Tier-1 Account. This account allows the individual to freely withdraw the cash whenever they want to. However, the withdrawn amount will be taxable. Tax exemption is only available to government employees for INR 1.5 lakhs however, for the private-sector employees, there is no tax deduction available. The minimum amount that an individual requires to contribute per annum is INR 250.
Higher the amount of contributions made, the greater the investments achieved, the more the time period over which the fund accumulates and the lower the charges deducted, the more the benefit of the accumulated pension wealth over time.
Possibility of making a partial withdrawal:
With respect to Tire 1 account holders, one can make 3 partial withdrawals in total but post the 3 years lock-in period. Moreover according to the guidelines, one cannot withdraw more than 25% of the total contribution and the sum withdrawn must be for the purpose of medical treatment, higher education of children, the marriage of children, purchase of house etc.
For Tire 2 account holders here is no minimum lock-in period for private-sector employees but for government employees, there is a lock-in period of 3 years in order to avail tax deductions.
Risk associated when investing NPS Scheme:
The equity exposure for the National Pension Scheme ranges from 50% to 75%. When it comes to government employees the cap is fixed at 50%. Moreover, when an employee turns 50 years of age this equity proportion will decrease by 2.5% every year. For individuals who are 60 years or above, this cap is fixed at 50%. The main reason behind doing this is to make sure that the investors are not affected much by the market volatility. One of the other benefits of investing in NPS is that it earns a higher amount of interest when compared to fixed income schemes.
National Pension Scheme invests in several schemes some of them being equity. The significant benefit that comes with investing in NPS scheme is that it allows its investors the freedom to select between two choices; Active Choice wherein the investors can choose which investment options to invest their funds in and Auto Choice where the investment decisions are managed by a fund manager who takes into account your age and risk appetite. However, one has to note that the maximum amount that can be invested in equity is 50% of your total investments.
Who can invest in NPS?
Any citizen of India, whether resident or non-resident, subject to the following conditions: Individuals who are aged between 18 – 60 years as on the date of submission of his/her application is eligible for investment in NPS.
The citizens can join NPS either as individuals or as an employee-employer group(s) (corporate) subject to the submission of all required information and Know your customer (KYC) documentation. You can’t make any further contributions to NPS after 60 years of age.
Non-residential Indians can also invest in NPS.
Comparison of NPS Scheme with other Tax Saving Schemes
8% to 10% (expected)
12% to 15% (expected)
7% to 9% (guaranteed)
How to open an NPS Account?
An Individual can open an NPS account in two different ways: Online and Offline
The steps for online registration are:
Go to eNPS website and select new registration
Choose Aadhaar or PAN as an option to perform KYC verification section
Enter Aadhaar / PAN details
Furthermore, enter the OTP to start the registration process
Fill up all the mandatory details
Including uploading your digital photograph and scanned signature
Make a payment towards NPS account
You can do this using your Debit/Credit Card or Internet Banking
If you started the registration process via Aadhaar
you can eSign your application and complete the registration process. No need to send the physical copy of a form to CR
In case you chose PAN
Finally, you need to select ‘Print & Courier’ option, take the print out of the filled form, affix your photograph and send it to NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited.
Alternatively, you can do this offline by Physical submission of Form and KYC documents
The deductions under this section are available on the amount the individual contributes to his PF/NPS account. Whichever from the following is less, it is exempted from taxes. It is 10% of the employee’s salary(If the individual is self-employed, 10% of the gross income) or INR 1,50,000*.
Is contribution to NPS mandatory for salaried employees?
No. Unlike contribution to Employee Provident Fund, contribution to NPS is completely voluntary. It is up to an individual whether he wants to invest in NPS or not. Even self-employed person can open an NPS account and make voluntary investments into the account.
What is the difference between Tier I and Tier II account
In tier I account, no withdrawals are allowed until the subscriber reaches 60 years of age while in Tier II, the subscriber can withdraw from his balance anytime he wants.
What are the investments limits in NPS?
Following are the limits of contribution to NPS: In Tier I account, minimum INR 6000 has to be deposited in a year (minimum contribution is INR 1000 at one time) In Tier II account, minimum Rs. 2000 has to be deposited in a year (minimum contribution is INR 250 at one time) There is no upper limit of investment
Can I appoint a nominee for an NPS account?
Yes, you need to appoint a nominee at the time of opening of the NPS account. You can appoint up to 3 nominees for your NPS Tier I and Tier II accounts. In case of more than one nominee, you need to specify the percentage of your savings that you wish to allocate to each nominee. Total share percentage across all nominees should aggregate to 100%
Can NRI’s opt for saving under National Pension Scheme?
Yes, NRI’s can invest under the National Pension Scheme provided that they maintain residential status till they exit from the plan.