The National Pension System (NPS) was launched by the government in 2004, primarily for government employees. In 2009, it was made available to all citizens.
You may invest in this pension scheme until retirement. When you turn 60 years old, you are allowed to withdraw 60% of the accumulated corpus, which is tax-free. The balance amount is used to buy annuity plans that offer regular income after retirement.
How does the National Pension Scheme work?
The minimum annual contribution to NPS is INR 6,000, which can be invested as a lump sum or in monthly installments of INR 500 each.
Your money is put in market-related instruments like equity and debt as per your choice and the returns depend on the performance of these investments.
Features and benefits of NPS
At the time of opening the NPS account, you receive a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN). Tier-I account is the primary account that is used to make your contribution and comes with withdrawal restrictions. Tier-II accounts are voluntary and have no withdrawal restrictions. Therefore, you can enjoy liquidity when you open a Tier-II account.
You may choose the automatic investment option wherein your contribution is managed by the fund manager based on your age and profile. Alternatively, you may opt for the active choice that allows you to choose the asset classes to invest your money in.
The maximum equity investment is limited to 50% and the balance is put in corporate debt and government securities.
You can also switch between automatic and active choices, giving you additional flexibility. Furthermore, you can switch fund managers; however, these switches are subject to certain regulations.
This is a noteworthy NPS benefit; it allows you to withdraw some portion of the accumulated corpus to meet emergency fund requirements. You may withdraw up to 25% of the corpus from the Tier-I account provided you have contributed for at least ten years. Moreover, there should be a minimum gap of five years between two partial withdrawals.
National Pension Scheme tax benefits
The NPS tax benefits are as follows:
- Up to INR 1.50 lakhs contributed to Tier-I account under section 80 CCD (1).
- Additional benefit of INR 50,000 under section 80 CCD (1B).
- Employer contribution of up to 14% for government personnel and up to 10% for others under section 80CCD (2).
Other tax advantages are:
- Tax exemption on up to 25% of withdrawals from the Tier-I account.
- Lump-sum withdrawal of up to 40% of the accumulated corpus once you are 60 years old is exempted from tax.
- Annuity purchase with the remaining 60% NPS corpus is tax-exempt; however, annual income earned on these is taxable.
NPS fees and charges
Point of Presence (POP) service provider charges
- One-time subscriber registration charges: INR 200
- Contribution processing 0.25% of the amount subject to a minimum of INR 20 and a maximum of INR 25,000 per transaction
- Non-financial transaction processing: INR 20 per request
Central Record Keeping Agency (CRA) charges
- One-time PRAN opening charges: INR 40
- PRAN annual maintenance charges: INR 90
- Transaction processing fees: INR 3.75
- NPS scheme expenses: 0.005% of accumulated corpus per year
- Pension fund manager investment management charges: 0.01% per annum
- Asset servicing by custodian charges: 0.0032% per year
Process of opening a National Pension Scheme account
To open an NPS account, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) of India offers online and offline processes.
You may visit enps.nsdl.com and follow the steps given below to open an account for NPS online.
- Choose the type of subscriber and residential status
- Select Tier-I or both account types
- Enter your PAN details and choose the POP or bank
- Click ‘registration’ and register using Aadhar to generate a one-time password (OTP)
- Enter the OTP along with your information and nominee and bank details
- On successful registration, the PRAN is allocated to you
- After you submit your e-signature and photograph, you will receive an OTP
- Use the OTP to verify the signature and proceed with the payment via net banking
- On successful payment, the PRAN is generated
Opening an NPS account offline
You may collect the form from the nearest POP and submit it along with know-your-customer (KYC) documents. You need to make an initial investment after which the POP sends you the PRAN details. There is a one-time registration fee of INR 125 that is paid to the POP while opening an offline account.
To log in to your account for the first time, visit enps.kfintech.com/login/login. Use the PRAN details and click on generate or reset password tab at the bottom of the page.
Enter PRAN, birth date, and captcha for OTP generation and click Submit.
Next, enter the OTP to confirm the password and return to the login page. Using the new password, PRAN, and captcha, you will be directed to the homepage.
Types of NPS accounts
NPS has two types of accounts—Tier I and Tier II. The former is the default account and the latter is voluntary.
- Minimum contribution: INR 500
- Maximum contribution: No limit
- Withdrawals: Restricted
- Tax exemptions: Up to INR 2 lakhs per year
- Minimum contribution: INR 250
- Maximum contribution: No limit
- Withdrawals: Permitted
- Tax exemptions: Up to INR 1.50 lakhs per year only for government employees
What is the NPS interest rate?
Your NPS contribution is invested in various asset classes, such as debt, equity, and government securities. Depending on the scheme you choose and the fund manager, the NPS returns can be between 9% and 12%.
National Pension Scheme eligibility
The eligibility norms are quite simple: any citizen between 18 and 60 years old can open an account. However, you must comply with KYC norms before opening one.
NPS for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)
NRIs who have a bank account and PAN card in an empaneled bank can open an NPS account via PFRDA or NPS trust website. While opening the account, they must choose the type of account (repatriable or non-repatriable) and then provide PAN, passport number, and bank details.
They must choose their country of residence, provide personal details, and upload the photograph and scanned signature. Moreover, they need to make an initial contribution of INR 500 to generate the PRAN and send the printed form along with signature and photo to CRA within 90 days.
Benefits for Non Residential Indians
- Choose from multiple asset classes and invest up to 85% in these
- Opt between active choice and auto choice
- Get a unique 12-digit PRAN and enjoy income tax exemptions in India
NPS vs. other tax-saving options
9% - 12%
12% - 15%
6% - 9%
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Who can invest in the National Pension Scheme?
Any Indian citizen aged between 18 and 60 years is eligible to invest in NPS after completing KYC norms.
Can you invest in multiple NPS accounts?
No. You are given a unique PRAN and, therefore, cannot hold multiple NPS accounts.
Is transferring of accounts allowed?
Since multiple accounts are not allowed, if you change your job, you can transfer your account to the new employer.
What is the lock-in period?
The lock-in period is until you are 60 years old. However, premature exit after ten years is allowed provided 20% of the corpus is withdrawn and the remaining 80% is invested in annuities.
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