More benefits for EPF members

Benefits available to members of the good old Employees Provident Fund is getting sweeter. If you have contributed to the scheme for at least 20 years, you can probably look forward to a loyalty-cum-life benefit at the time of retirement.

Under the proposed scheme by the EPFO, members whose average basic wages are up to ₹5,000 will get a benefit of ₹30,000, while those with average basic wages of ₹5,001-10,000 will be eligible for a benefit of ₹40,000. The rest will be eligible for ₹50,000 loyalty-cum-life benefit.

Members with permanent disability will be eligible for this scheme even if they have contributed for less than 20 years. The EPFO has also proposed a minimum sum assured of ₹2.5 lakh in the event of death of a subscriber. These benefits will be available to members after the government approves it.

Noose tightens on HRA claims

Have you been claiming HRA benefits by paying rent to your parents or relatives all along? Tax benefits under HRA especially may no longer be a cakewalk, going by a recent ruling by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), Mumbai. Substantial proof of rent paid to kin/parents may be the norm henceforth. Recently, the above-mentioned tribunal denied a claim where the taxpayer had paid rent in cash to her mother.

The tribunal also brought out a list of additional documents required to support the claim if the assessee stayed at the house of parents/relatives.

The new rules include proof of correspondence during the period of alleged tenancy, proof of payment of rent through bank accounts, electricity bill payments through cheques, water bill payments through cheques, etc.

Quicker NEFT transactions

With electronic payments becoming the in-thing after demonetisation, the Reserve Bank of India has taken a step forward in making NEFT transactions more user-friendly.

Until recently, while RTGS and IMPS modes of electronic payment provided almost instant transfer of funds to the payee’s account, NEFT took its own sweet time of up to an hour to effect the transfer.

The RBI has now slashed this time by half. So, in a weekday, NEFT settlements will take place in 23 batches between 8 am to 7 pm, instead of the 12 batches earlier and on Saturdays, 11 settlements will take place. You can’t still use this mode to transfer money on a Sunday though.

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