- 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In short, where the PF amount is withdrawn before five years of continuous service, it may be taxable in the hands of the individual as if the fund was not recognised from the start of the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.