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In most cases, the accumulated PF balance is withdrawn at the time of retirement, and therefore, not taxable in the hands of the individual.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 Only under the circumstances listed below will the amount withdrawn from PF be eligible for such exemption from tax.
In short, where the PF amount is withdrawn before five years of continuous service, it may be taxable in the hands of the individual as if the fund was not recognised from the start of the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.
tax 'N' accounts people
Tarun Kumar Gupta
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