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Invest in these tax-saving schemes by March 31 to keep your accounts active

Here is a look at the minimum amount you need to invest in some schemes to keep them active and what happens if it is not done.

, ET Online|
Updated: Mar 22, 2019, 09.37 AM IST
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Even if you doesn't invest in these schemes in FY19, you need to invest a minimum amount to keep them active and avail of these benefits.
If you haven't yet made your tax-saving investments for the year and are waiting till the end of the financial year to do so, you might want to give it a rethink. This is because March 31 (the end of the financial year) is a Sunday. Banks and markets will be shut after 29th March, and there are high chances that you could face technical issues during the last few working days of the FY.

The March 31 deadline is especially crucial for those who have invested in financial products like the Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Pension System (NPS), and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana (SSY). This is because you to need to invest at least a minimum amount every financial year to keep these accounts active. You need to keep these accounts active since they come with tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income-tax Act, 1961. Even if you doesn't invest in them in this FY 2018-19, you need to invest a minimum amount to keep them active and avail of these benefits.

Therefore, make sure you deposit the requisite minimum amount in these schemes by March 31.
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Here is a look at the minimum amount you need to invest in these schemes to keep them active and what happens if it is not done.

Public Provident Fund
The minimum annual contribution for PPF is Rs 500. The last date to make the contribution for this financial year is March 31, 2019, after which you will have to pay a penalty of Rs 50 for each year you fail to make the minimum contribution along with an arrear subscription of Rs 500 for each year.

In case the minimum contribution is not made in the FY, the account will be treated as discontinued. The subscriber in all such cases will not be entitled to the facility of obtaining a loan or making partial withdrawals unless the account is revived. A discontinued account can be revived before the end of its original maturity date. It cannot be revived after maturity nor can it be closed before maturity.

The subscriber will get back his amount only after the expiry of the maturity period of 15 years along with interest which will continue to be added each year (even in the discontinued account) on the balance at a rate fixed from time to time.

When the deposit is made using a local cheque or draft by the subscriber, the date of realisation of the amount will be treated as the date of deposit.

To earn the interest for the full month, PPF rules ask for payments to be made before the fifth of the month. If you had missed it for now, invest the minimum to keep the account active.

National Pension System
On opening an NPS account, the Tier- I becomes the primary account and has a lock-in period. The minimum annual (April-March) contribution for an NPS Tier-1 account to remain active had been reduced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 1,000 in 2016. A minimum contribution of Rs 1,000 is required from NPS Tier I account holders every fiscal. Not doing so for FY 2018-19 before FY 19 ends will make your account frozen.

To unfreeze, one has to make a minimum contribution of Rs 500 and Rs 100 as penalty and in addition the POP ( point of purchase) charges needs to be added to it. In 2016, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) had unfrozen all frozen accounts without asking for penalty and amount for unpaid years.

NPS Tier-II account is an optional account and there is no lock-in of funds. If the Tier-I account is frozen, then automatically the Tier II also gets frozen. The earlier requirement of maintaining a minimum balance of Rs 2,000 at the end of the financial year and contribution of at least Rs 250 per financial year in it had been waived off in 2016. For Tier II, there is no minimum contribution requirement for the financial year.

Keep a tab on these minimum limits as it can be changed at any point of time by the pension fund regulator.

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana account
The SSY account may be opened with an initial deposit of Rs 1,000 and thereafter any amount in multiples of Rs 100 may be deposited subject to the condition that a minimum of Rs 1,000 shall be deposited in a financial year.

An account under default may be regularised on payment of a penalty of Rs 50 per year along with the minimum specified amount for the year or years of default. If the default is not regularised within 15 years of the opening the account, then the whole deposit, including those made prior to the date of default, shall be eligible only for interest rate prescribed for Post Office Savings Bank at the time of its maturity.

What you should do
Don't just make the bare minimum investment amount required in these schemes because you would have opened it with the purpose of meeting a certain goal. So, ideally, putting in the minimum amount won't help much in meeting long-term goals. It's better to link one's investment to a goal and invest the required amount accordingly.
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