Proposal to tax PF contribution over a certain limit is retrograde

The 2021-22 Budget is notable for not imposing fresh taxes, but for one clause lurking in its fineprint. This is the plan to withdraw the tax exemption on the interest income earned by employees’ provident fund contribution exceeding ₹2.5 lakh a year. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is one of the very few savings products in India that still enjoy an exempt-exempt-exempt (EEE) regime, that is contributions, interest and withdrawals are all exempt from tax. The proposed change now may prove a significant deterrent to employees using it as their default retirement vehicle. While the memorandum claims that the cap became necessary because some employees were found to be ‘contributing huge amounts’ to their provident funds, the Centre ought to introspect whether this is such a bad thing.

The current generation of Indians is staring at a crisis of severely under-funded retirement given the country’s abysmal pension coverage, withdrawal of guaranteed pension for government employees and advent of National Pension System (NPS). As the government offers no social security cover to the retired or elderly, those working in the organised sector rely mainly on their own contributions to the EPF to build up a retirement kitty. This makes the repeated backdoor attempts to withdraw EEE benefits on EPF quite unfair, even if it impacts only 1 per cent of EPF members. After mooting and hastily withdrawing a tax on EPF maturity proceeds a couple of years ago, last year’s Budget brought in perquisite taxation for employers’ contributions to provident funds that exceed ₹7.5 lakh a year. While the new ₹2.5 lakh a year limit appears to be an attempt to curb benefits to a creamy layer of employees earning over ₹20 lakh a year, even those well below this threshold will fall into the net if they make high voluntary PF contributions. The clause’s wordings are also unclear on whether the tax will apply only to contributions made after April 1, 2021 or to interest on legacy investments as well. The argument that the EPF’s high interest is subsidised by taxpayers is debatable as the fund presently pays annual interest only out of its declared surplus. It is another matter that dodgy accounting often leads to its interest declarations being significantly higher than underlying portfolio returns. If the Centre wants to avoid the risk of taxpayers eventually being called upon to bail out the scheme, the focus must be on aligning EPF interest to its portfolio returns, with a changeover to accrual accounting, mark-to-market investments and unit accounts.

To help employees plan, the Centre must reveal its long-term roadmap for the three retirement vehicles (EPF, PPF and NPS) without attempting piecemeal changes. Higher-income folks can be persuaded to explore non-EPF avenues, if retirement accounts are carved out from the crowded section 80C and deduction is raised to, say ₹2.5 lakh. The compulsory annuity rule on the NPS must also be done away with. more  

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There is only Power Middle class is only real tax payer as Higher Middle class peoples knows very well how to hide & make tax theft . They are highly educated & knows Loop holes of the system . why they are crying ? How many peoples getting basic salary more than Rs. 2,00,000/00 ? Even the writers & commentators also may not be getting. why making foolish arguments & wasting the time. How many peoples are getting affected by this rule? The Govt. must have data & hence the put the tax. You Can not satisfy 100 % to any body. Not even wife also. more  
While we may ask for any advantage, god knows how many Indians really have a Basic Salary of more than 2 lacs per month. Since we have an option to invest additional 1.5 lac in PPF and 50000 in NPS this is quite substantial amount of direct savings in Indian context with additional options like MFs etc. If we feel this is not justified, what about non salaried earners? What's their situation? What about the retired people. For them there is hardly any tax saving options with interest reducing every now and then. more  
It is inferred that the excess of 2.50 lakhs interest income is taxable. Assuming this constitutes around 8% , the principal amount would be around 30 lakhs which comes around 1.20 lakhs per year on 25 years of contribution. Its rightly observed by our learned member Mr Seshadri rajan, if Government is going to guarantee the pension for pvt employees, no issues for this 2.50 lakhs ceiling. Otherwise it should not be implemented, as it will hit the MC below the belt. Just to curb the deposit of few multi millionaires, who wish to take undue advantage of this Interest %, by depositing lakhs of rupees, in their accounts, why the MC must be penalized ? Some of the Govt schemes are forcing many MC into penury. Like wise, the capital gains Tax must be exempted for such MC Pvt employees who solely thrive on the interest income (in absence of a regular monthly pension) , by selling a piece of land (acquired during the service period), post retirement in order to have a respectable living without being dependent on their children. more  
Agree with all that you said. Just because the middle class doesnt get down to the streets to protest unfair tax proposals, the govt keeps on implementing shoddy and poorly thought plans to exploit such people. This is too much of a price to pay for the salaried employees simply because they are not a vote bank more  
You are right for pvt employees if the govt guarantee pension then this is acceptable Govt wants to kill this class more  
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