Under the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (EPF & MP Act, 1952), certain specified employers are required to comply with the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952 (EPFS). However, these employers are also permitted to establish and manage their own private provident fund (PF) scheme subject to fulfillment of certain conditions.
The provident funds established under a scheme framed under EPF & MP Act, 1952 or Provident Fund exempted under section 17 of the said Act and recognised under the Income-tax Act are termed as Recognised Provident fund (RPF) under the Act. The provisions relating to RPF are contained in Part A of the Fourth Schedule (Schedule IV-A) of the Act. Under the existing provisions of rule 8 of Schedule IV-A of the Act, the withdrawal of accumulated balance by an employee from the RPF is exempt from taxation.
However, in order to discourage pre-mature withdrawal and to promote long term savings, it has been provided that such withdrawal shall be taxable if the employee makes withdrawal before continuous service of five years (other than the cases of termination due to ill health, closure of business, etc.) and does not opt for transfer of accumulated balance to new employer.
Rule 9 of the said Schedule further provides computation mechanism for determining tax liability of the employee in respect of such pre-mature withdrawal. For ensuring collection of tax in respect of these withdrawals, rule 10 of Schedule IV-A provides that the trustees of the RPF, at the time of payment, shall deduct tax as computed in rule 9 of Schedule IV-A.
Rule 9 of Schedule IV-A of the Act provides that the tax on withdrawn amount is required to be calculated by re-computing the tax liability of the years for which the contribution to RPF has been made by treating the same as contribution to unrecognized provident fund. The trustees of private PF schemes, being generally part of the employer group, have access to or can easily obtain the information regarding taxability of the employee making pre-mature withdrawal for the purposes of computation of the amount of tax liability under rule 9 of the Schedule-IV-A of the Act. However, at times, it is not possible for the trustees of EPFS to get the information regarding taxability of the employee such as year-wise amount of taxable income and tax payable for the purposes of computation of the amount of tax liability under rule 9 of the Schedule-IV-A of the Act.
It is, therefore, proposed to insert a new provision in Act for deduction of tax at the rate of 10% on pre-mature taxable withdrawal from EPFS.
However, to reduce the compliance burden of the employees having taxable income below the taxable limit, it is also proposed to provide a threshold of payment of Rs.30,000/- for applicability of this proposed provision. In spite of providing this threshold for applicability of deduction of tax, there may be cases where the tax payable on the total income of the employees may be nil even after including the amount of pre-mature withdrawal. For reducing the compliance burden of these employees, it is further proposed that the facility of filing self-declaration for non-deduction of tax under section 197A of the Act shall be extended to the employees receiving pre-mature withdrawal i.e. an employee can give a declaration in Form No. 15G to the effect that his total income including taxable pre-mature withdrawal from EPFS does not exceed the maximum amount not chargeable to tax and on furnishing of such declaration, no tax will be deducted by the trustee of EPFS while making the payment to such employee.
Similar facility of filing self-declaration in Form No. 15H for non-deduction of tax under section 197A of the Act shall also be extended to the senior citizen employees receiving pre-mature withdrawal.
However, some employees making pre-mature withdrawal may be paying tax at higher slab rates (20% or 30%). Therefore, the shortfall in the actual tax liability vis-à-vis TDS is required to be paid by these employees either by requesting their new employer to deduct balance tax or through payment of advance tax / self-assessment tax. For ensuring the payment of balance tax by these employees, furnishing of valid Permanent Account Number (PAN) by them to the EPFS is a prerequisite.
The existing provisions of section 206AA of the Act provide for deduction of tax @ 20% in case of non-furnishing of PAN where the rate of deduction of tax at source is specified. As mentioned earlier, there may be employees who are liable to pay tax at the highest slab rate. In order to ensure the collection of balance tax by these employees, it is also proposed that non-furnishing of PAN to the EPFS for receiving these payments would attract deduction of tax at the maximum marginal rate.
These amendments will take effect from 1st June, 2015.