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What is the Difference Between EPF and VPF?

EPF and VPF offer secure retirement savings as EPF mandates employer contributions and limited personal options, while VPF allows voluntary contributions for higher long-term returns.

  • 2,580 Views | Updated on: Mar 12, 2024

An increasing number of young working professionals now understand the importance of retirement planning. However, the selection can be confusing with a wide range of investment options currently available. For investors with a low-risk profile, Provident Fund schemes such as EPF and VPF are excellent options. EPF involves mandatory contributions up to a set percentage of the basic salary, while VPF allows individuals to voluntarily contribute beyond these limits, offering flexibility for enhanced retirement savings.

Employee Provident Funds and Voluntary Provident Funds are highly secure schemes that offer stable returns, making them ideal for long-term goals like retirement planning. Understanding the differences between these two can help you pick the best plan for your retirement days.

What is EPF or Employee Provident Fund?

The Employee Provident Fund is a social security initiative designed to foster long-term savings among employees. Under this scheme, both employers and employees make regular contributions to build a corpus, which serves as a financial cushion during retirement or other critical life events. These contributions are based on a percentage of the employee’s basic salary and dearness allowance.

What are the Advantages of EPF?

Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is a social security initiative that ensures a steady income post-retirement and is a robust financial safety net during emergencies. Some of the benefits of EPFs are:

Retirement Security

One of the primary advantages of EPF is its role in providing a secure financial future for employees. Contributions made by both employers and employees accumulate over the years, forming a substantial corpus. When withdrawn at retirement, This lump sum amount ensures a steady income stream, fostering financial independence during the golden years.

Tax Benefits

EPF enjoys favorable tax treatment, making it an attractive option for employers and employees. Contributions made by employees are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act up to a specified limit. Additionally, the interest earned on EPF is tax-free, providing a dual benefit of saving taxes and earning a reasonable return on investment.

Employer Contributions

EPF is a contributory scheme where employers and employees contribute a percentage of the employee’s salary. The employer’s contribution not only aids in building a substantial retirement corpus but also provides additional financial cushion for employees. This shared responsibility fosters a sense of security and loyalty among the workforce.

Liquidity and Withdrawal Benefits

While the primary objective of EPF is to provide financial security post-retirement, it also offers provisions for partial withdrawals in specific situations. Employees can withdraw from their EPF account for purposes such as purchasing a house, medical emergencies, or education. This liquidity feature makes EPF a versatile financial instrument catering to various life stages and needs.

Interest Accumulation

EPF provides a competitive rate of interest on the accumulated corpus, generally higher than many other fixed-income instruments. The interest is compounded annually, ensuring the fund grows substantially over the years. This feature enables employees to beat inflation and build a robust financial foundation for the future.

Social Security Net

EPF goes beyond being just a retirement savings tool; it acts as a social security net for employees and their families. In case of the untimely demise of the account holder, the nominated beneficiaries receive the accumulated amount, offering financial support during challenging times.

What is the VPF or Voluntary Provident Fund?

The Voluntary Provident Fund, or VPF, is an extension of the EPF, offering employees the option to contribute more than the stipulated percentage of their basic salary towards their provident fund. While EPF contributions have fixed limits, VPF allows individuals to increase their savings voluntarily.

What are the Benefits of VPF?

The Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF) emerges as a versatile and advantageous option for those looking to enhance their retirement savings beyond the mandatory contributions to the Employee Provident Fund (EPF). Their benefits include:

Enhanced Contribution Limits

One of the main advantages of VPF is the flexibility it offers in terms of contribution limits. While EPF has a statutory limit on employee contributions, VPF allows individuals to contribute more than the mandatory percentage of their basic salary. This feature enables employees to substantially boost their retirement savings, aligning with their financial goals.

Tax Benefits

Similar to EPF, VPF contributions are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. This makes VPF a tax-efficient investment, allowing individuals to reduce their taxable income and, consequently, their tax liability. The combined benefit of tax savings and higher interest rates makes VPF an attractive proposition for those seeking to optimize their tax planning.

Competitive Interest Rates

VPF typically offers interest rates that are on par with EPF rates, allowing individuals to earn a competitive return on their additional contributions. The interest is compounded annually, contributing to the growth of the overall corpus. This makes VPF an appealing option for individuals prioritizing stable and attractive investment returns.

Long-Term Wealth Accumulation

By allowing individuals to contribute more than the mandated limits, VPF becomes a powerful tool for long-term wealth accumulation. The additional contributions and the compounded interest can produce a substantial corpus over the years. This can be particularly beneficial for those who start contributing early in their careers, harnessing the power of compounding to its full potential.

What is the Difference Between an Employee Provident Fund and a Voluntary Provident Fund?

Understanding the key differences between the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and the Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF) is crucial for employees to make informed decisions about their savings and retirement planning. Let us take a look at their differences:


Employee Provident Fund (EPF)

Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF)
Nature Mandatory contribution by both employer and employee. Voluntary extension of EPF, where the employee contributes more.
Contributors Both employer and employee contribute to the fund. Solely employee-contributed, in addition to the mandatory EPF contribution.
Contribution Limits The employee contributes 12% of the basic salary and DA. Employees can contribute more than the mandatory 12% under VPF.
Interest Rates Interest rates are set by the government and reviewed annually. Similar interest rates as EPF; both are aligned.
Tax Implications Both the employee’s and employer’s contributions are eligible for tax benefits under Section 80C. The employee’s contributions are eligible for tax benefits under Section 80C, but the interest earned is taxable.
Withdrawal Rules Subject to certain conditions and restrictions, the accumulated amount can be withdrawn partially or fully. Follows the same withdrawal rules as EPF, including partial withdrawals for specific purposes.
Flexibility Limited flexibility as the contribution is mandatory. Offers more flexibility as the employee can choose to contribute more, providing an avenue for higher savings.

Final Thoughts

Distinctions between EPF and VPF empower employees to make informed decisions about their financial future. Whether navigating mandatory contributions with EPF or opting for additional savings through VPF, employees can tailor their approach based on individual financial goals and preferences. Individuals can take proactive steps towards securing a stable and prosperous retirement by understanding these provident fund options.

Key Takeaways

  • EPF involves mandatory contributions by employers and employees, while VPF allows individuals to contribute voluntarily beyond the statutory limits set for EPF.
  • EPF and VPF contributions are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, providing individuals with tax benefits.
  • EPF and VPF generally offer competitive interest rates, compounding the interest annually and contributing to the growth of the overall corpus.
  • EPF primarily serves as a retirement savings scheme, whereas VPF allows individuals to contribute more for long-term wealth accumulation beyond retirement.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

Amit Raje
Written By :
Amit Raje

Amit Raje is an experienced marketer who has worked in various Fintechs and leading Financial companies in India. With focused experience in Digital, Amit has pioneered multiple digital commerce in India. Now, close to two decades later, he is the vice president and head of the D2C business department. He masters the skill of strategic management, also being certified in it from IIMA. He has challenged his challenges and contributed his efforts in this journey of digital transformation.

Amit Raje
Reviewed By :
Prasad Pimple

Prasad Pimple has a decade-long experience in the Life insurance sector and as EVP, Kotak Life heads Digital Business. He is responsible for developing user friendly product journeys, creating consumer awareness and helping consumers in identifying need for life insurance solutions. He has 20+ years of experience in creating and building business verticals across Insurance, Telecom and Banking sectors

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