National Pension System (NPS) is an initiative launched by the Government of India to provide old age income and social security coverage to all citizens between the ages of 18-65 years. If you think NPS is just like any other retirement product or feel that retirement is far away and you need not invest for it now, you may miss out on lot of other benefits that it offers.
Some of the advantages of NPS are:
By investing in NPS Tier I account you can avail additional tax deduction of INR 50,000 under Sec 80CCD. This is over and above the INR 1.5 lakh deduction under 80C.
Annual investment management fee of mere 0.01% making it one of the lowest cost pension product.
Make risk profile based investments (Equity vs Debt split) to generate optimal market linked returns.
NPS allows you to invest in different asset classes – Equity (E), Government Securities (G), Corporate Debt (C) and Alternative Investment Funds (A). Designing and monitoring a portfolio can be tedious and hence NPS provides you an option of dynamically changed and automatically allocated portfolio as per your age and risk profile:
Aggressive (LC-75): Maximum Equity exposure is 75% up to the age of 35
Moderate (LC-50): Maximum Equity exposure is 50% up to the age of 35
Conservative (LC-25): Maximum Equity exposure is 25% up to the age of 35
The equity (E) exposure gradually reduces with age and exposure to C or G increases thus ensuring your investments are more stable as you grow older. Investments are auto-rebalanced every year when you opt for auto-choice which will reduce the level of risk in your portfolio. If you are an advanced investor, you can opt for active choice where you can decide your own asset allocation.
When you turn 60 or when you retire, you become eligible to redeem a maximum of 60% of your accumulated corpus which is completely tax free. The rest 40% will go towards purchase of an annuity that will provide you monthly pension after your retirement. Partial withdrawals (for some pre-defined purposes) of up to 25% of your contributions are also allowed in NPS after completion of 3 years.
- What is NPS and can I invest in it?
- But why should I invest in NPS?
- That’s abundant. But what is this Tier I account ?
- So where will my corpus get invested under NPS?
- But how do I choose my allocation to these asset classes?
- Can I change my pension fund manager?
- Now, when am I eligible to withdraw my corpus?
- Now, that I know about NPS, how do I invest in it?
What is NPS and can I invest in it?
National Pension System or NPS is an initiative launched by Government of India to provide old age income and social security coverage to all citizens. The subscription to the scheme is voluntary in nature and the benefits of the same can be availed by all the citizens of India between the ages of 18-65 years. Your contributions are invested in safe and regulated investment products that provide market linked returns over the investment horizon.
But why should I invest in NPS?
NPS not just offers you social security and retirement benefits but has loads of other features and advantages too:
Tax deduction up to INR 2 lakh every year
By investing in NPS Tier I account you can avail the deduction of INR 1.5 lakh tax deduction under Sec 80 C and over and above that an additional tax deduction of INR 50,000 under Sec 80CCD of the Income Tax (IT) Act
Your investments under NPS incur a yearly investment management fee of mere 0.01% making it one of the lowest cost pension product
Attractive market linked returns
NPS offers you the choice to invest in multiple asset classes like equity, government bonds, corporate bonds etc. thereby ensuring you generate market linked returns at all points of time
Your hard earned money is managed by experienced pension funds like LIC, SBI, HDFC etc. to name a few at a very low cost
The entire NPS ecosystem is regulated by PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) to ensure there is no wrong doing of any sort and all your grievances are redressed within proper time interval
Net asset value (NAV) i.e. the price of the unit of the fund is calculated every day and is available to you. You also have access to the portfolio of a fund which helps you in making an informed investment decision
You are free to choose your investment options and pension fund managers under NPS and switch between them as per your choice
That’s abundant. But what is this Tier I account ?
On NPS account opening, you are provided with two types of accounts:
It is mandatory and investments under this account qualify for tax exemptions as mentioned above. However, this account comes with certain withdrawal conditions i.e. you cannot redeem your accumulated corpus until you reach 60 years of age. Partial withdrawals can be made subject to certain conditions. There is no upper cap on the investments you can make here, but it is better to restrict your investments as per the tax benefit you want to avail. Otherwise all your investments will get locked in until retirement. You also need to make a minimum contribution of INR 1,000 every year to avoid the account from getting frozen.
It is a voluntary savings facility available to you as an add-on to the Tier-I account which implies you can have a Tier-II account only after opening a Tier-I account You are free to withdraw your savings from it at any point of time, but you won’t get any tax exemptions on these investments . It is advisable to make extra contributions over and above the tax benefit you want to avail, in Tier-II account to avoid getting caught up in liquidity restrictions.
So where will my corpus get invested under NPS?
Under NPS you get the option to invest in four asset classes as mentioned below:
A ‘high risk-high return’ fund that invests predominantly in equity market instruments and is thus volatile in the short term but has good long term wealth creation potential
Government securities (G)
A ‘low risk-low return’ fund that invests purely in Government Securities
Corporate Debt (C)
A ‘medium risk-medium return’ fund that invests predominantly in fixed income bearing instruments issued by corporates
Alternative Investment Funds (A)
Under this you can invest in REITs (Real estate investment trusts), InvITs (Infrastructure investment trusts), MBS (mortgage backed securities) etc.
But how do I choose my allocation to these asset classes?
Well, NPS offers you two choices to manage your asset allocation:
Unlike traditional investment products, NPS offers you the flexibility to design your own portfolio. So if you understand your risk profile and the asset classes well, then you can choose the percentage allocations in the four asset classes subject to a max of 75% to E up to age 50 and 5% to A. However if you are a conservative investor then you can invest your entire wealth in C or G.
As designing your portfolio can be a tedious process, so NPS also provides you with the option to opt for a dynamically changed and automatically allocated portfolio as per your age. Thus, the older you are, more stable and less risky your investments. As per your risk appetite you can opt for
- Aggressive (LC-75): Maximum Equity exposure is 75% up to the age of 35
- Moderate (LC-50): Maximum Equity exposure is 50% up to the age of 35
- Conservative (LC-25): Maximum Equity exposure is 25% up to the age of 35
Investments under auto choice will be only in E, C or G. The equity exposure gradually reduces with age and exposure to C or G increases. Investments are auto-rebalanced every year when you opt for auto-choice.
But what if I am not happy with the performance of my funds?
Can I change my pension fund manager?
Yes, you have the option to change your pension fund manager (PFM) but only once in a financial year. Currently there are 8 PFMs registered under PFRDA, giving you ample choice to choose from. You are allowed to have different PFMs and investment options under Tier-I and Tier-II account. However, you have to stick to one PFM for the chosen investment option. You cannot have one PFM managing your E component while another managing your C or G investments.
Okay. Now I have clarity on investment in NPS.
Now, when am I eligible to withdraw my corpus?
The following withdrawal rules are applicable on subscribers of NPS:
Withdrawal after age 60 or retirement
Once you turn 60 or after retirement, you are eligible to redeem a maximum of 60% of your accumulated corpus as lump sum which is not subject to capital gains tax. The rest 40% has to be utilized for purchase of an annuity that will provide you monthly pension after your retirement.
After completion of 3 years in NPS, you are eligible to withdraw a maximum of 25% of your contributions made to NPS for the following purposes only:
- Higher education of his/her children,
- Marriage of his/her children,
- Purchase or construction of residential house or flat
- Treatment of specified illnesses.
- Disability of more than 75%
Only 3 partial withdrawals from NPS are allowed in the entire tenure.
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