Withdrawal from Provident Fund (PF) Account before Completion of Five years taxable?
Withdrawal of Provident Fund may attract Income Tax. The Income Tax Department recently told EPFO (Employees Provident Fund Organisation) to deduct Tax (TDS) from the withdrawal amount, if the withdrawal happened before completing five years of subscription. Tax officials have cited a rule in the 1961 Income-Tax Act that taxes PF withdrawals by employees before completing five years of contributions into the EPF is taxable.
In most cases, the accumulated PF balance is withdrawn at the time of retirement, and therefore, not taxable in the hands of the individual. However, in certain cases like change in employment, an individual may even withdraw the PF balance earlier. The point one needs to remember is that the amount received from such PF is not exempt from tax in all cases. Only under the circumstances listed below will the amount withdrawn from PF be eligible for such exemption from tax.
- If the employee has rendered continuous service with the employer for five years or more. Again, if the balance includes amount transferred from the individual’s PF account maintained by previous employer(s), then the years of continuous service rendered to the former employer(s) would be included for the purpose of computing the five-year period.
- If the employee has not rendered continuous service of five years, but the service is terminated by reason of the employee’s ill health or discontinuance of the employer’s business or reasons beyond the control of the employee, the amount will be tax-exempt.
- Another tax-exempt case is when, on the cessation of the employment, the employee finds another job and the the accumulated PF balance is transferred to his individual PF account maintained by the new employer.
In short, where the PF amount is withdrawn before five years of continuous service, it may be taxable in the hands of the individual as if the fund was not recognised from the start of the contributions. In such a case, payment received by the individual in respect of the employer’s contribution along with the interest accrual thereon is taxed as “salary”. Interest on the employee’s contribution is taxable as “other income”. Payment received in respect of the employee’s own contribution is exempt from tax (to the extent not claimed as a deduction earlier).
I-T provisions provide that the trustees of a recognised PF or any person authorised by the regulations of the fund to make the payment of the accumulated balance to the employee should deduct tax at source while paying the amount. Further, the person liable to deduct tax has to issue the certificate of tax deducted at source (Form 16) within the specified time frame to the employee depicting the details of taxes withheld from the accumulated PF balance and also comply with other salary-related compliance necessities. So the next time you think of withdrawing your PF, you must as an individual also assess whether the same is taxable or exempt.
I worked with a private company for four and years and nine months. I have given a provident fund (PF) withdrawal request to my ex-employer. Will the PF amount be taxable?
We understand that the PF maintained by your former employer was a recognized PF. As per the provisions in the Income-tax Act, if the employee has rendered continuous service with his employer for five years or more, then the withdrawal of accumulated balance from such PF is not taxable at the time of termination.
Since the period of your services with the ex-employer is four and a half years which is less than five years, you shall be liable to tax on the amount withdrawn from your PF. In addition to the normal tax payable by you, you will be required to pay all the tax concessions availed by you so far on account of contribution to such recognized PF. Further, the total employer’s contribution plus interest thereon, which was not taxed earlier, shall be taxable as profits in lieu of salary.
However, if the accumulated balance in your PF account is transferred to your recognized PF account maintained by the new employer, no tax liability shall arise due to such transfer.
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(Republished with Amendments)