Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Pradeep Gaur/Mint

NPS returns are market linked

An investor within the scheme has an option to choose funds based on her level of safety and risk in addition to choosing her own fund manager

The National Pension System (NPS) has been advertising a lot about the new tax deduction of 50,000 for tax payers. I wanted to know more about the new deduction under section 80CCD(1)(b). Is this available only for people whose employers are investing in NPS on their behalf, or is this available for general public as well? How does the deduction work with respect to other tax benefits?

—Praveen Aggarwal

NPS is a voluntary pension scheme regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA). It was introduced as an investment option to provide for the country’s growing working community to ensure that they have an option to save for their retirement needs. The purpose was to replace the existing system of defined benefit pension to a defined contribution-based pension system.

An investor within the scheme has an option to choose funds based on her level of safety and risk in addition to choosing her own fund manager. The returns are market-linked and, hence, do not give any form of guarantee.

NPS follows an EET (exempt-exempt-tax) model—exempt at the time of contribution or investment, exempt at the time of earnings and taxable at the time of withdrawals.

Section 80CCD under the Income-tax Act, 1961, provides the tax incentive at the first stage of investment—for getting the benefit of deduction for contributions made towards NPS.

This deduction is available to all individuals—salaried as well as non-salaried. This deduction was earlier restricted to 1 lakh for each financial year under section 80CCD(1) and was subsequently increased to 1.50 lakh.

To further boost savings, in Budget 2015, a new section, 80CCD 1B, was introduced, under which an additional deduction of up to 50,000 was allowed for contribution made towards NPS. This made the total deduction under section 80CCD to 2 lakh.

If we go through the provisions of section 80CCD, there is a lack of clarity whether the additional deduction of 50,000 is after exhausting the limit of 10% of salary. Is the cap on deduction of up to 10% of salary (basic + dearness allowance) under section 80CCD (1) and within the overall ceiling of 1.50 lakh or is it over and above the ceiling of 1.50 lakh?

While this ambiguity remains, the intent was clarified in an example quoted by the finance minister in his budget speech this year, in which it was clarified that the assessee can claim additional deduction and the deduction of 50,000 was over and above the ceiling of 1.50 lakh.

Let’s take an example. If you have exhausted your 1.50 lakh limit of deduction under section 80C by savings in Public Provident Fund (PPF), insurance premiums, repayment of housing loan, among other things, you can further increase your tax savings by contributing up to 50,000 towards NPS.

You could open an NPS Tier I account, which is the first level, to claim the tax benefits.

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