The law says that if you earn income, you must pay income tax. But if you do not fall in the tax bracket or have paid excess tax, the Government will refund you, but that will come later; after you have paid income tax.
One mechanism that the Government has in place to ensure tax payment and curb evasion is TDS or Tax Deducted at Source. It is a basic form of income-tax collection; you may have seen such deductions reflected in your salary slip. TDS is also applicable on a range of income types, including interests earned and commissions received.
The Income-Tax Act, 1961 has specific sections to address the issue of TDS for different types of earnings – Salary (Section 192), Securities (Section 193), Dividends (Section 194), interest other than interest on Securities (Section 194A), lottery wins (Section 194B) and even prize money on horse racing (Section 194BB).
And then there is Section 195.
The NRI Tax
Section 195 spells out the tax rates and deductions on payments made to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), who are required to file tax returns in India for income received or accruing or arising in India or deemed to accrue or arise in India. But this can be a tricky area. For example, TDS does not come into play when a Mutual Debt Fund pays up the proceeds of redemption to a Resident Indian, but it does not mean an NRI is exempted. This is where Section 195 comes into play – it identifies the key areas pertaining to tax for NRIs.
As is done with Resident Indians, the deduction is to be made at the time of crediting or making a payment, whichever event occurs earlier; this includes crediting in Suspense Accounts or any other account where the payment is credited.
While, Section 195 does not prescribe any threshold limit, and the TDS amount has to be computed on the entire amount payable. The onus of making the deduction falls on the payer – i.e. anyone making the payment to an NRI, irrespective of whether the entity is an individual or a company/organisation.
What this means is that the payer needs to be aware of TDS rates under Section 195:
Income from investments: 20%
Long-term capital gains in Section 115E: 10%
Income by way of long-term capital gains: 10%
Short-term capital gains (as per Section 111A): 15%
Any other income by way of long-term capital gains: 20%
Interest payable on money borrowed in foreign currency: 20%
Royalty from Government/Indian concern: 10%
Other royalties received: 10%
Fees for technical services from Government/Indian concern: 10%
Any other income (e.g. rent on property owned): 30%
Surcharge and education cess, which must be statutorily added at the prescribed rate, can be ignored if payment is made as per the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).
As stated earlier, computing TDS for NRIs can be tricky; for instance, Section 195 does not mention salary paid to an NRI in India; this is instead covered under Section 192. Sometimes, an NRI may have to be reimbursed by cheque payment for out-of-pocket expenses; this is not covered under Section 195 as there is no income element in the process.
Also, under Section195 (3) and Rule 29B, an NRI can apply for a nil-deduction certificate, provided the following conditions are fulfilled:
The NRI concerned is up-to-date on tax payments and tax returns
He/She has not defaulted in payment of tax, interest or penalties
He/She has been carrying on business in India for at least five years without a break, and the value of his/her fixed assets in India exceeds Rs 50 lakh.
Such certificates are valid until their expiry or cancellation by the assessment officer.
Also, if as an NRI, you are looking for tax breaks, you could look at the account categories that ensure that. Let us say you have an NRE Account with ICICI Bank; funds lying in such accounts will not attract any tax.
However, if you have an NRO Account, the interest earned on it would be taxable at the rate of 30%, in addition to the applicable cess and surcharge.
TDS Procedure: To deduct TDS under Section 195, the payer should first obtain Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN) under Section 203A, by filling Form 49B, available online.
PAN is a must for both the payer and the NRI concerned, who must be told of the deduction and the TDS rate. Also, the deducted amount has to be deposited by the 7th of the following month through authorised banks or the income-tax department.
Following this, TDS return can be filed electronically by submitting Form 27Q; this has to be done on specific dates: on Jul 31 (for the first quarter; Oct 31 (for the second quarter); Jan 31 (for the third) and May 31 (for the fourth).
The TDS certificate in a specified format i.e. Form 16A (Certificate of Deduction of Tax) can be issued to the NRI within 15 days of due date of filing TDS Returns, as given above.
Income Tax: As the new financial year is about to start from April 1, there are major changes in the income tax that will come into effect. From changes in the income tax slab to the latest rule of no Long-Term Capital Gain (LTCG) benefit on debt mutual funds, here are 10 big changes that will come into force from April 1.
1. No LTCG benefit on debt mutual fund
The government recently scrapped LTCG—tax applied on long-term gains benefit on debt mutual funds which will be applied to investors who invest in debt mutual funds after March 31.
2. Default Tax regime
The New Tax Regime will become the default income tax regime from the beginning of the new financial year. However, taxpayers will still have a choice to toggle and select between the old tax regime and the new tax regime.
3. Tax rebate limit extended
The government extended the tax rebate limit from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh in Budget 2023. A tax rebate is a refund that taxpayers are eligible for if the taxes paid by them exceed their tax liability. Simply put, taxpayers with an income of up to Rs 7 lakh in a financial year need not invest anything to claim exemptions and the entire income would be tax-free irrespective of the quantum of investment made by such an individual.
4. Standard deduction
Under the new tax regime, a salary exceeding Rs 15.5 lakh will get a standard deduction– a flat deduction from the gross salary, of Rs 52,500. For pensioners, the finance minister has announced the extension of the benefit of the standard deduction in the new tax regime.
5. Tax slab changes
In Budget 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a new break up for tax slabs under the New Tax Regime:
0-3 lakh – nil
3-6 lakh – 5%
6-9 lakh- 10%
9-12 lakh – 15%
The government has hiked the tax exemption on leave encashment on the retirement of non-government salaried employees to Rs 25 lakh from Rs 3 lakh.
7. Market-linked debentures (MLD)
Market-linked debentures will be taxed under short-term capital gains – a tax levied on capital gains from the sale of an asset held for a short period.
8. Life insurance policies
Maturity proceeds from life insurance premium which exceeds Rs 5 lakh will be taxable from April 1. This new income tax rule will not be applied to ULIP (Unit Linked Insurance Plan) – an insurance plan that offers the dual benefit of investment to fulfill your long-term goals, and a life cover for financial protection.
9. Gold to e-gold receipt conversion
Physical gold conversion to e-gold receipt will not attract capital gains tax.
10. Advantages to Senior Citizen
The maximum deposit limit for the senior citizen savings scheme will be increased to Rs 30 lakh from Rs 15 lakh.
The maximum deposit limit for the monthly income scheme will be increased to Rs 9 lakh from 4.5 lakh for single accounts and Rs 15 lakh from Rs 7.5 lakh for joint accounts.
An individual taxpayer planning to opt for the old tax regime for current FY 2022-23 must complete their tax-saving exercise on or before March 31, 2023. If an individual has not made any investments allowed under section 80C of the Income-tax Act, 1961 then he/she must not wait until last minute.
Section 80C allows an individual to claim maximum deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh from their taxable income. By claiming this deduction, an individual’s taxable income reduces which leads to reduction in income tax liability. An individual whose total income is taxed at 30% tax rate and 4% cess, will pay Rs 46,200 as additional tax if maximum deduction is not claimed. Had the maximum deduction being claimed, then tax outgo will reduce by Rs 46,200 (including cess).
Here are some of the common options available under Section 80C, 80CCC and 80CCD (1) for saving income tax. Do note the total investments made under Section 80C, 80CCC and 80CCD (1) together must not exceed Rs 1.5 lakh in a financial year.
Equity-linked Savings Scheme (ELSS): ELSS mutual funds are one of the common investment options used under Section 80C to save income tax. The maximum deduction that can be claimed is of Rs 1.5 lakh. ELSS mutual funds invest in equity and the returns earned are market-linked, making them one of the most risky investment options in the 80C basket.
ELSS mutual fund schemes have a lock-in period of three years. Thus, once invested, an individual investor cannot withdraw the money before the completion of three years from the date of investment. ELSS has the shortest lock-in period among all the other options available under Section 80C. There is no limit to the maximum amount that can be invested under ELSS mutual funds. The minimum amount varies between mutual fund houses.
The return earned in ELSS mutual fund will be taxable if the redemption is done. The capital gains will be taxable if the total equity capital gains in a financial year exceeds Rs 1 lakh.
Public Provident Fund (PPF): PPF is one of the most popular small savings schemes. This is because PPF has EEE tax status. This means that investment made in PPF is exempted from tax, the interest earned from PPF is exempted from tax and maturity amount is also exempted from tax.
PPF is a debt investment, hence, they are not as risky as ELSS mutual funds. PPF is a government scheme, hence, it comes with sovereign guarantee. The interest on PPF is announced by the government in every quarter. For January – March 2023 quarter, the PPF is offering 7.1% annually. The government will review the PPF interest rate on March 31, 2023 for the April- June 2023 quarter.
PPF comes with a lock-in period of 15 years, where the lock-in period starts after the completion financial year in which initial investment is made. For instance, if an individual makes the first investment in PPF in August 2022, then lock-in period of 15 years will be calculated from April 1, 2023. Though PPF has a lock-in period of 15 years, it offers loan and partial withdrawal facilities.
The minimum and maximum investment amount in PPF is Rs 500 and Rs 1.5 lakh. An individual can open the PPF account either with a bank or a post office.
Do note that once PPF account is opened, then minimum investment must be made in the PPF account every financial year. If minimum investment in PPF account is not made in a single financial year, then PPF account will become a discontinued account.
National Pension System (NPS): Investment made in NPS is eligible for deduction under Section 80CCD (1) of the Income-tax Act. The scheme offers pension to the investor from his/her retirement age. The returns under the NPS are market-linked.
The amount of deduction that can be claimed for NPS investment under Section 80CCD(1) is 10% of salary (basic salary plus dearness allowance). The maximum deduction that can be claimed is of Rs 1.5 lakh. Hence, an individual having basic salary of Rs 10 lakh is eligible to claim deduction of Rs 1 lakh under Section 80CCD (1). To fully-utilise the benefit of Rs 1.5 lakh, he/she will have to explore other tax-saving investment options.
NPS has a lock-in period of till the age of 60 years. For example, if an individual started investing in NPS at the age of 25 years, then he/she will have a lock-in period of 35 years. NPS offers partial withdrawal facility, however, such withdrawal is allowed under specified circumstances. On maturity, an individual can withdraw maximum 60% of the corpus as lump-sum. This lump-sum will be exempted from tax. The balance 40% must be mandatorily used to buy annuity plan. The annuity/pension received will be taxable in the hands of individual.
The minimum per NPS contribution is Rs 500 but there is no maximum amount that can be invested in NPS. An individual opening NPS account must ensure that they have made minimum contribution of Rs 1,000 in a financial year to avoid making the NPS account discontinued.
Employees Provident Fund (EPF): EPF is one of the most popular tax-saving instruments for salaried individuals. If the organisation is covered under the EPF law, then a salaried individual will be making contribution to the EPF account. An individual is required to contribute 12% of basic salary to the EPF account and employer will make a matching contribution as well.
The interest rate on EPF account is announced by the government. The EPF account also has a lock-in period till retirement. However, partial withdrawal from EPF account is permitted for specific situations. Further, if an individual after quitting their job, does not find another job in two months, then he/she can completely withdraw the money from their EPF account and close the account.
The amount that can be invested in the EPF account depends on the salary of an individual. However, if an individual wishes to make additional contribution to the EPF account, then same can be done via Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF). The rules of EPF and VPF accounts are same.
Do note that if the total contribution to the EPF and VPF account exceeds Rs 2.5 lakh in a financial year, then the interest earned on excess contributions will be taxable in the hands of an individual. The maturity amount received from EPF account is exempted from tax.
Tax-saving fixed deposits: A 5-year tax saving fixed deposit is another option available to individuals to save income tax in the current financial year. An individual can invest in tax-saving fixed deposit at a bank or a post office.
The interest rate on tax-saving fixed deposit varies between banks. For post office tax saving fixed deposit, interest rate is announced by the government. The interest received from tax-saving fixed deposit is taxable in the hands of the individual.
Tax-saving fixed deposit has a lock-in period of 5 years. Hence, once invested, the money cannot be withdrawn before the completion of 5 years from the date of investment.
The minimum investment amount for tax-saving fixed deposit varies between banks. The minimum investment amount for post office 5 year term deposit is Rs 500. There is no limit to the maximum amount that can be invested. However, the maximum tax benefit of Rs 1.5 lakh can be claimed.
National Savings Certificate (NSC): An individual can invest in NSC as well to save income tax. The investment in NSC can be made by visiting the nearest post office. The interest rate on the NSC is announced by the government every quarter. However, once the investment is done, the interest rate remains fixed till maturity. Currently, NSC is offering interest rate of 7% per annum.
NSC has a lock-in of 5 years. Thus, once an individual makes an investment, the money cannot be withdrawn before the completion of 5 years. The minimum amount in NSC is Rs 1000 with no limit on the maximum amount. The tax benefit is, however, restricted to Rs 1.5 lakh under Section 80C. The interest earned on NSC is re-invested and is paid at maturity. The interest earned from NSC is taxable in the hands of an individual. However, as the interest is re-invested, this makes it eligible for deduction under Section 80C.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY): This a savings scheme for the girl child. A parent of a girl child can invest in Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana and save tax on it. Every quarter, the government announces the interest rate for Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. Currently, the scheme is offering interest rate of 7.6%.
An individual can open the Sukanya Samriddhi account either via bank or post office. The Sukanya Samriddhi account will mature after 21 years of opening of the account. However, the deposits are required to be made for 15 years from the date of opening of account.
The Sukanya Samriddhi account can be opened by a guardian for a girl child below the age of 10 years. Only one account can be opened in the name of a girl child either in bank or post office. This account can be opened for maximum of two girls in a family.
The minimum and maximum deposit that can be made in Sukanya Samriddhi account is Rs 250 and Rs 1.5 lakh, respectively, in a financial year. If the minimum deposit is not made in a financial year, then the account will become a defaulted account.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana also comes with the EEE tax status like PPF.
Senior Citizens Savings Scheme (SCSS): Only senior citizens can invest in this scheme to save income tax. The interest rate on Senior Citizens Savings Scheme is announced by the government in every quarter. Currently, the scheme is offering an interest rate 8%. Once the investment is done, the interest rate remains fixed for the tenure of the scheme. The interest is paid every quarter to the senior citizen.
The scheme has a lock-in period of 5 years. However, the scheme allows premature closure of the account. The premature closure of account invites penalty as well.
The scheme allows minimum deposit of Rs 1000 and maximum deposit of Rs 15 lakh. The Budget 2023 has proposed to hike the maximum deposit limit to Rs 30 lakh from Rs 15 lakh currently.
The interest received from scheme is taxable. However, a senior citizen can claim deduction under section 80TTB for the interest earned.
Unit-linked insurance plans (ULIP): An individual can make investment in ULIP to save tax. It is an insurance product that offers both life insurance coverage and benefit of investing equity. The returns earned from ULIP products are market-linked.
The ULIP has a lock-in period of 5 years. Once the lock-in period expires, the individual can withdraw the money.
The amount that can be invested in ULIP depends on various factors such as age of individual, sum insured, policy term. The maturity proceeds from ULIP will be taxable if premium paid for all ULIPs in a financial year exceed Rs 2.5 lakh.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘There are only two things certain in life, death and taxes.’ Despite death not being in our hands, we often worry about it but when it comes to taxes which are very much controllable, we tend to put in only last minute efforts. Every year, in the month of March, many of us hastily invest in various tax-saving schemes that offer 80C deduction without proper consideration, resulting in poor financial decisions. However, are 80C investments the only option for tax savings? Many taxpayers are unaware of options such as 80D, 80E, and others. By treating these investments as tools for building long-term wealth, taxpayers can benefit even more.
Here are some handy last-minute tax-saving investment tips that can help you reduce your tax liability. By taking advantage of these tips, you can simplify the investment process and potentially save yourself some money come tax season.
Using Section 80C for last minute investment planning
Section 80C of the Income Tax Act is one of the most popular widely explored options for tax saving investments. With a host of financial investments options ranging from PPF, EPF, ELSS, Life Insurance Policy premiums, Bank FDs, Post Office Schemes etc. There is some or the other investment option available for all types of investors. Investments up to Rs 1.5 lakh in one or more of these are exempt from tax. Here is a quick review of some of the best last minute investment options in Section 80C.
PPF: If you unsure about where to invest and don’t want to take risks for your investments, invest in PPF. PPF investments are backed by government and offer fixed interest rate each year. If you do not have a PPF account, you can open one online and if you have an account then you can just invest the remaining amount to utilize your 80C limit. However, the current rate of interest is low at 7.6% p.a.
ELSS: ELSS is one of the best investment options in the list of financial products as it provides you the opportunity to invest in markets and enjoy tax deductions for the same. If you are a salaried employee, a sizeable amount of your investments go into your EPF account and you can look at investing in ELSS to diversify your portfolio into equities. Even for non-salaried taxpayers, ELSS is the ideal option for equity investment as most of the investments in 80C are debt investments. Another advantage of ELSS is that it has the shortest lock-in period of 3 years. Among all investment options, ELSS mutual funds offer the lowest lock-in with almost the highest returns.
Life insurance policy: Having a life insurance policy is extremely essential and if you do not have insurance policy with adequate coverage then you should look at buying a good term insurance policy. One should have term insurance policy in the portfolio to protect family for uncertainties.
NPS: You should start your retirement planning as soon as you can and NPS can be a great investment avenue for the same. Your investments in NPS enjoy additional deduction of Rs 50,000 under Section 80 CCD(1b) thus taking the total limit of tax deductible u/s 80C income to Rs 2,00,000 for the financial year.
Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP): A Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) is a financial product that combines both investment and insurance in one package. ULIPs offer the opportunity to build wealth while also providing life insurance coverage.
With a ULIP, a portion of the invested amount is allocated towards life insurance, while the remaining amount is invested in a mix of equities, debt, or a combination of both. This type of investment is suitable for long-term financial goals such as saving for your child’s college education, retirement, or other significant financial milestones.
ULIP premiums are eligible for a tax deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, up to a maximum of Rs. 1.5 lakh per year. Additionally, the returns earned on a ULIP policy are exempt from income tax under Section 10(10D) upon maturity.
Deduction on your Housing Loans: You can claim repayment of principal amount of your home under Section 80C upto Rs 1.5 lakh. Apart from this, you can also claim additional deduction of Rs. 2 lakhs on the interest component of your home loan for fully constructed self-occupied property under Section 24(b).
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY): This is a savings scheme initiated by the government to promote the development of the girl child. Parents can open an account with a minimum investment of Rs. 250 and a maximum of Rs. 1.5 lakh per financial year. The government announces the interest rate every quarter. The scheme offers tax benefits, including a tax exemption of up to Rs. 1.5 lakh per year under Section 80C, exemption from tax on interest earned, and tax exemption on the total amount at maturity. It is an EEE (Exempt-Exempt-Exempt) scheme, which means the investment, interest earned, and maturity amount are all tax-exempt.
National Savings Certificate (NSC): This is a savings scheme supported by the Indian Government. You can open an account at any post office in India, and the investment is locked for five years. After five years, you get the full amount. You can invest up to Rs. 1.5 lakh per year, and you can also avail tax deductions on investments under Section 80C. The NSC can be a good option for those who want guaranteed returns and save tax at the same time.
Tax-saving FDs: These are similar to regular FDs, but offer a tax break on investments up to Rs. 1.5 lakh under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. They have a lock-in period of 5 years, and cannot be redeemed before maturity without penalty. Any Indian resident can open a tax-saving FD with a minimum investment of Rs. 1,000. This is a low-risk investment option suitable for long-term investment with guaranteed returns. The interest earned on tax-saving FDs is taxable.
Tax saving beyond Section 80C
Section 80C is not the only option available for tax saving in India. There are other sections under the Income Tax Act that provide tax benefits and can be used for tax-saving purposes. Some of the popular tax-saving options apart from Section 80C are:
Medical policy premiums: With healthcare costs on the rise, having a medical insurance policy is crucial. You can claim a tax deduction on the premium paid for such policies for yourself, your spouse, children, or parents under Section 80D.
Interest on education loan: If you have taken an education loan for higher studies for yourself, your spouse or children, you can claim a tax deduction on the interest paid on such loans each year under Section 80E.
Donations made to funds and charitable organizations: Donations made to charitable trusts, organizations, or relief funds can be claimed as tax deductions under Section 80G.
Interest earned on your savings account: You can claim a tax deduction of up to Rs. 10,000 for interest earned on your savings account under Section 80TTA. For senior citizens, the limit is Rs. 50,000 per year.
Practical guide for effective tax-saving investments
Many people wait until the last quarter of the financial year to start thinking about their taxes. But this can lead to poor investment decisions. The best strategy is to start planning at the beginning of the financial year. This gives you more time to make informed investment choices and stay invested for a longer period, which can help you reach your financial goals quickly.
Here are some practical steps to help you plan your tax-saving investments:
1- Check if any of your investments or expenses during the year are eligible for tax deductions. For example, contributions to EPF, home loan repayments, and school fees can be tax-deductible.
2- Identify your investment goals and your risk profile to help you select the best investment options.
3- Invest the appropriate amount to reach your financial goals while also taking advantage of tax-saving opportunities.
In conclusion, many taxpayers tend to make hasty investment decisions by only relying on 80C tax-saving options, resulting in poor financial decisions. However, by exploring other options such as 80D, 80E, and others, taxpayers can benefit from long-term wealth creation. The article highlights some of the last-minute tax-saving investment tips that can help individuals reduce their tax liability. Taxpayers can take advantage of options such as PPF, ELSS, NPS, ULIPs, housing loan deductions, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, National Savings Certificate, and tax-saving FDs. By utilizing these investment options, individuals can simplify the investment process and potentially save money during tax season. Therefore, taxpayers must carefully evaluate their financial needs and goals before making any investment decisions.
Tax saving is a prime tool for many investors, to prevent the erosion of the total income generated. There are various investments that provide this benefit, thereby, significantly increasing the effective investment portfolio in this country as all individuals want to avail this advantage. In this article, let us discuss the best tax-saving investments options that can reduce your tax outgo. Read on!
Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS)
Equity-linked savings scheme is one of the most popular market investment tools among investors with the primary aim of tax saving. It is one of the best ways to save tax under section 80C, as well as earn substantial returns by gaining market advantage.
Tax saving ELSS funds invest at least 80% of the total portfolio on equity securities, thereby, yielding the highest return amongst any other similar instruments available in the market. This scheme comes with a mandatory lock-in period of three years on an investment amount. Under section 80C, the following provisions are made to ensure substantial tax reduction on funds related to the ELSS scheme.
• The total principal amount invested in ELSS is exempt from taxation, provided the amount is under Rs. 1.5 Lakh.
• Any capital gains less than Rs. 1 Lakh is not charged with long term capital gains tax.
Tax saving ELSS funds are relatively liquid instruments when compared to other securities available under the same umbrella.
Public Provident Funds (PPF)
Public provident fund is one of the best tax-saving instruments u/s 80C, sponsored by the Government of India. However, PPF comes with a mandatory lock-in period of 15 years. This might harm the liquidity requirements of an investor.
The PPF interest rate earned on this tax saving instrument is announced by the government every quarter and remains fixed for the given period. PPF forms a fixed return instrument, as it provides assured interest declared by the central government.
A maximum of Rs. 1.5 Lakh can be invested in a PPF account in one financial year, through a lump sum or monthly investments. The entire amount can be exempted from taxation, thereby, making it one of the best tax-saving investments under Section 80C. Any interest earned on an investment amount is also not considered for tax calculations.
Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)
Senior Citizens Savings Scheme is also one of the best tax-saving investments u/s 80C, as it enables you to enjoy SCSS tax deduction of up to Rs. 1.5 Lakh on an investment amount. However, the eligibility criteria of this scheme are more rigid than other instruments. Only people satisfying the following criteria can avail of this investment tool:
• Individuals aged 60 years and above
• Individuals above the age of 55 years availing voluntary retirement
• Any individual above the age of 50 years employed in the defense sector of India
The total amount that can be invested in an SCSS policy is Rs. 15 Lakh. The interest rate payable on an investment amount is determined by the Central Government of India, and therefore, poses as a stable return on investment.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna (SSY)
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna poses as one of the best ways to save tax under section 80C of the Income Tax Act. The SSY tax benefits amount up to Rs. 1.5 Lakh per annum. However, an account under the Suaknya Samriddhi Yojna can only be opened by a person having a daughter who is less than ten years old.
As a part of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ policy, the interest rate provided by the government on this amount is higher than other government-mandated instruments such as Public Provident Fund. Any investment which is higher than Rs. 1.5 Lakh in a year is not considered for SSY tax benefits.
Tax Saver Fixed Deposit (FD)
Fixed deposits with a lock-in maturity period of five years are eligible for tax exemptions under Section 80C. It is one of the popular investment tools among risk-averse individuals, as it assures guaranteed returns at a fixed interest rate.
However, it should be kept in mind that any premature withdrawals made nullify any tax benefit on such investments. Interest earned under this scheme is taxable.
National Pension Scheme (NPS)
National Pension Scheme is a systematic investment policy aiming to provide financial security to investors on retirement. It is one of the best tax-saving investments under Section 80C, with a claim deduction of up to Rs. 1.5 Lakh on the total principal amount. The national pension scheme accepts funds from both employers and employees in the case of salaried individuals.
Under Section 80CCD (1), a tax-free investment can be made by an employee up to 10% of his/her salary. For self-employed individuals, NPS tax benefits of an additional Rs. 50,000 can be claimed under Section 80CCD (1B).
Funds invested in an NPS account can be partially reinvested in equity schemes, subject to the discretion of an investor.
National Savings Certificates (NSC)
National savings certificate aim to provide secure investment to individuals wary of stock market fluctuations. The tax-saving benefits under this policy are immense, with exemptions of up to Rs. 1.5 Lakh on the principal amount and the reinvested interest amount. The maturity period on this investment remains fixed at five years and ten years and is up to an investor to choose between any of the two periods.
Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIP)
Unit-linked insurance plans are also one of the best tax-saving investments under Section 80C available in the market, with exemptions on both investment and premium amounts payable.
The portion of money dedicated towards the investment part under this scheme is entitled to tax redemption of Rs. 1.5 Lakh, along with 10% of the total premium (provided the value is less than Rs. 1.5 Lakh).
Under section 80C, a premium paid on a life insurance policy is deductible under the income tax calculations. The total amount allocated towards premium payments should not exceed Rs. 1.5 Lakh to avail this tax exemption benefit
All these tools aim to provide tax exemptions to investors. However, the returns remain fixed under all instruments except the ELSS plan, as it is market-oriented. Tax saving ELSS funds offer the highest returns as its portfolio primarily comprises equity-oriented schemes. It comes in with a mandatory lock-in period of three years, giving it enough exposure to the stock market to realize substantial profits.
While there are multiple ways you can save tax, it is wise to select an option that offers you dual benefits of tax saving as well as wealth creation. Remember to plan your taxes in advance, seek the best way to optimize your taxes, and utilize the tax exemption limit completely.
New Year’s resolutions are often made with good intentions, but many go unfulfilled. Tax-related promises, however, should not be neglected. The tax authorities are strict with deadlines and harsh with those who fail to pay their taxes. To ensure peace of mind and long-term financial stability, consider making the following tax-related resolutions.
Utilise All Available Deductions
■ Returns filed by taxpayers show many people don’t fully utilise the deduction limit under Sec 80. This leads to unnecessary outgo of tax on hard earned income.
Plan out investments so that you can claim the full benefit of tax-saving options to reduce your taxable income by up to Rs 5 lakh-6 lakh as follows: Section 80C (max Rs 1. 5 lakh), Section 80CCD(1b) (max Rs 50,000), Section 80D (max Rs 75,000-1,00,000) and Section 24 (max Rs 2 lakh).
Harvest Long-Term Gains By March 31
■ Stock markets have done very well after the Covid scare. If your stocks and equity funds have gained during the year, harvest up to Rs 1 lakh of long term capital gains to lower your future tax. Long-term capital gains up to Rs 1 lakh from stocks and equity-oriented funds are tax-free in a financial year, but you need to book profits before March 31 to pocket the tax-free returns. The same stocks and equity funds can be bought back again, but their price of acquisition for tax computation will get reset at a higher level. The same strategy can be used for equity funds. Ask your mutual fund house or CAMS or Karvy for a capital gains statement to know how much of capital gains needs to be harvested.
Pay Advance Tax
■ Many taxpayers don’t report their interest or dividend income because they are under the misconception that if TDS has been deducted, no more tax is due. But TDS is only 10%, while both interest and dividends are taxed at the normal rate applicable to you. If you have invested in bonds, NSCs or bank deposits, or have received dividends, make sure you pay the tax on these incomes by the due date. All these incomes will show up in your annual information statement (AIS), so there is just no way you can escape the liability. Also, keep in mind that unpaid tax attracts a penalty of 1% per month of delay.
Check AIS When Filing Returns
■ The annual information statement (AIS) has details of all your financial transactions during the financial year. It will have details of income (salary, profession, rent, interest and capital gains) as well as expenses(foreign exchange, purchase of gold above Rs 50,000 in cash and Rs 2 lakh by card) and investments (mutual funds, stocks, bonds). It also has details of the tax paid on your behalf by your employer and the TDS deducted by others. Be sure to check your AIS and verify that the details of your financial transactions are correct.
Verify TDS Details In Form 26AS
■ Form 26AS is your tax credit statement and has details of the TDS deducted on your behalf, and the tax collected at source (TCS) paid by you. Access your Form 26AS through the income tax department portal or your netbanking account and check if the TDS and TCS deductions are correctly mentioned in it. If some TDS or TCS has not been credited to you, you must contact the deductor immediately. A periodic check of Form 26AS will ensure you are not running around at the time of tax filing.
Don’t Ignore Foreign Assets, Earnings
■ Tax compliance becomes a little complicated if you have foreign assets. All foreign bank accounts, financial interests, immovable property, accounts in which an individual has signing authority, and any other capital asset held by the individual outside India, must be reported in the tax return, irrespective of the total income of the individual. Many taxpayers omit this, but this is not recommended. Not disclosing foreign assets can invite serious charges under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income And Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015. Even if a return for a previous year has been processed, cases can be opened up to 16 years later and penalties levied.
At the end of every fiscal year, you start looking for ways to reduce your taxable income. Instead of looking for quick ways to reduce your taxable income at the end of the financial year, it is prudent to begin tax-saving in advance, with proper knowledge about the best ways to save tax on your income.
The government allows various exemptions to allow citizens to save their taxes. There are various tax-saving instruments which can reduce your tax liability by decreasing your taxable income. You can save your taxes through these 4 basic components:
• Investing your savings • Buying insurance • Paying back your loans • Donating to charitable institutions
Read on to understand how:
Tax benefits under section 80(C)
The most popular tax saving options are available under Section 80(C) of the IT Act. It includes various investments and expenses that can be used to reduce your taxable income. The government allows deductions up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs for investments made in the instruments as specified in this section and its sub-sections. Some of them are as follows, – Invest your savings in government schemes like Public Provident Fund (PPF) accounts, National Savings Certificate, Kisan – Vikas Patra
• Plant your savings in 5-year fixed deposits • Invest in notified pension schemes like National Pension Scheme • Pay life insurance premiums • Invest in Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) or Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS)
Save tax on your health insurance
Your Health Insurance Package can turn out to be an efficient tax saving tool for you. You can claim tax deductions under Section 80(D) of the IT Act for paying premiums towards health insurance for yourself, spouse, children or parents. Amendments made in the Union Budget, 2018 have further extended tax benefits by raising the exemptions under this section.
• A maximum deduction of Rs.25,000 is allowed for paying health insurance premium for your family • An additional deduction of Rs.30,000 is allowed for health insurance premium of your senior citizen parents • Exemption of up to Rs.50,000 is allowed for Health insurance premium if the applicant is a senior citizen • A maximum deduction of Rs.1,00,000 is allowed for senior citizens against critical Health insurance premium
Tax saving on home loans and education loans
You can also claim tax benefits by availing a Home loan or education loans under different sections of the IT Act. Tax planning for saving on income tax with a home loan is highly beneficial as you can claim deductions under three different sections.
• You are allowed to claim deduction U/S 80C for repaying the Principal amount of your Home Loan • You can claim tax deduction up to Rs.2,00,000 for interest paid on your Home Loan U/S 24 • You can claim an additional exemption of Rs.50,000 U/S 80EE for your first house purchase • You can claim tax deduction against Education Loan for you or your family U/S 80E
Remember, the best time to start your tax planning is the beginning of the fiscal year. Don’t procrastinate until the last quarter to avoid frantic investments to save taxes. With tax-saving tools like a health insurance plan or a home loan plan, you can also attain financial security and establish your long-term goals.
As we are approaching the final quarter of the current financial year, tax planning will be one of the most important priorities for many tax payers. Section 80C of Income Tax Act 1961, allows investors to claim deductions from their taxable incomes by investing in certain eligible schemes. In this blog post, we will discuss 5 reasons why you should invest in tax saving mutual fund schemes referred to as Equity Linked Saving Schemes (ELSS), and the Systematic Investment Plan (SIPs)offered by them.
Reduce your tax obligations for the current financial year
The most obvious reason for making 80C investments is tax savings schemes. You can claim up to Rs. 150,000/- deduction from your gross taxable income by investing an equivalent amount in ELSS or other eligible 80C schemes; you can save up to Rs. 46,800/- in taxes (for investors in the highest tax bracket) every year. SIP is a disciplined way of making tax saving investments throughout the year to achieve maximum tax savings.
Create wealth over a long investment tenor
ELSS mutual funds are usually the best performing 80C investments in the long term. These schemes are essentially diversified equity mutual funds, which invest in equity and equity related securities. While ELSS investments are subject to market risks, historical data shows thatequity is the best performing asset classin the long term. Nifty 100, which is the index of 100 largest stocks by market capitalization (large cap stocks), has given 12.6% annualized returns in the last 5 years, much higher than other asset classes like fixed income and gold (source: Advisorkhoj Research). Further ELSS mutual funds are managed by professional and skilled fund managers. The table below shows the interest paid by different 80C investment schemes and historical returns of ELSS category.
ELSS offers the maximum liquidity amongst all 80C investment options. PPF has a tenor of 15 years with very limited liquidity in the interim. Minimum investment tenor of all non-ELSS 80C schemes is 5 years. ELSS mutual funds have alock-in period of only 3 years. Your money is not locked up for long periods of time in ELSS and you have the option of redeeming your investment partially or fully after the lock-in period. When investing in ELSS through the SIP route, investors should remember that each SIP instalment will be locked in for 3 years and should plan accordingly.
Investment proceeds of some 80C investments like PPF are tax free, but interest paid by some 80C investments are taxed as per the income tax rate of the investor. Till the beginning FY 2019, ELSS capital gains / profits were tax free but a change in taxation was introduced in this year’s Union Budget. Capital gains of up to Rs 1 Lakh in ELSS mutual funds will be tax exempt. Capital gains in excess of Rs 1 Lakh will be taxed at 10%. Incidence of tax in ELSS investments arises only at the time of redemption and not during the term of the investment. Even with the introduction of the capital gains tax, ELSS remains one of the most tax efficient 80C investment options.
Convenience and Flexibility
ELSS offers investors the convenience of investing through SIP mode in which you can invest fixed amounts every month (or any other frequency) for tax savings. SIP not only helps investors stay disciplined, it can also help them get higher returns through Rupee Cost Averaging. ELSS SIPs offers a lot of flexibility. Unlike PPF or life insurance plans, there are no penalties or policy suspensions, in the event of missed payments in ELSS SIPs. You can stop and restart your SIPs at any time. However, if you miss 3 consecutive SIP instalments due to insufficient funds in your bank, your SIP will be cancelled and you will have to make a fresh application to restart your SIP. Therefore, you should ensure that there is always sufficient balance in your bank account on SIP dates.
In this post, we discussed why ELSS investments through SIPs is one of the best tax saving investments. It not only helps you save taxes, but also creates wealth for investors with high risk appetite. ELSS is also the most liquid and convenient investment options under Section 80C considering the SIP route. Investors should consult with their financial advisors if ELSS schemes are suitable for their tax saving purposes.
Proper tax planning can not only help you save on taxes, but also increase your income. We all want to know how and where to invest to maximise our return on the investments, but make some obvious mistakes such as keeping tax planning for the last minute. Experts say people make impulsive investment decisions last-minute. Here are a few smart strategies that help you maximise your investment returns.
Start tax planning at beginning of the financial year
This is a very crucial step to maximise the returns on your investment. Anup Bansal, chief investment officer, Scripbox says, “Tax planning is a crucial aspect when it comes to saving on returns. If one starts at the beginning of the financial year it provides more time to select instruments as per one’s goals and preferences.” Also, it helps you avoid last-minute impulsive investment decisions.
Additionally, if you are planning to make investments in tax-saving instruments like ELSS and PPF, experts say it is best to do it at the beginning of the year to give more time for growth. If there are changes in your personal situation, such as rental agreement changes (HRA) then take these into consideration and intimate your employer for accurate TDS.
Financial gifts to parents
To avoid income clubbing, you can make financial gifts to your parents, or even your grandparents. Bansal says, “If a parents are over the age of 65 and do not have a taxable income, the taxpayer can invest in their name to earn tax-free interest.” Senior citizens over the age of 60 are entitled to a Rs 3 lakh baseline exemption. And if you wish to take the help of a senior citizen above the age of 80, the exemption is even higher at Rs 5 lakh.
Investing in the name of your kids
Investing in the name of your kids is a great idea as they help you save tax like your parents and grandparents.
“After becoming an adult, the kid will be treated as a separate individual, for tax purposes and would even be eligible to open a Demat account and invest in stocks and mutual funds, with money gifted by the parent,” says Bansal.
Long-term capital gains of up to Rs 1 lakh will be tax-free every year, while short-term capital gains would be tax-free up to the standard exemption of Rs 2.5 lakh per year.
Invest in NPS for tax benefits
India has low annuity rates, and the scary thought of putting away your retirement money forever, has led to NPS being considered an unattractive investment option. However, Bansal points out that NPS’s withdrawal regulations have seen recent reforms which have reversed this to some extent, making the pension scheme more appealing to those in their 50s. “The new rule opens a few different tax-saving options for investors,” he says.
Benefit from the available tax deductions. It is important to know where you can benefit from the available tax deductions. You can claim certain deductions up to Rs 1.5 lakh under Section 80C. Even for investing in NPS, you get a deduction up to Rs 50,000 under Section 80CCD(1b).
The best time to start your tax saving investments is at the beginning of a calendar year or a financial year. While tax planning is important, getting aware of all tax saving schemes and choosing the right one is crucial.
Tax saving schemes ensure you don’t pay more taxes and make money in the long run by investing in savings-oriented schemes. Here are some of the best tax saving options with a deduction of up to ₹1.5 lakh in your income tax for the year.
Here are a few options of tax saving schemes:
ELSS Mutual Fund
Equity-linked saving scheme (ELSS) is a type of mutual fund scheme that primarily invests in equity funds. ELSS offers tax benefits to investors. The investments in the scheme are eligible for tax deduction under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 up to a maximum of ₹1.5 lakh.
One can invest through both lump sum and systematic investment plans (SIP) to avail the tax deduction. This way, ELSS offers both investment and tax saving benefits.
Here are the five top performing ELSS funds in the industry:
% return in last 3 years
Quant Tax Plan
BOI AXA Tax Advantage
Mirae Asset Tax Saver
Canara Robeco Equity Tax Saver
IDFC Tax Advantage (ELSS)
National Savings Certificate (NSC)
NSC is a fixed income tax-saving investment plan that you can open with any post office branch. The scheme is an initiative of the government of India and hence is relatively safer. The investment in NSC qualifies for deduction under section 80C of the income tax act of up to ₹1.50 lakh.
These certificates earn an annual fixed interest of around 6.8% per annum (revised every quarter by the government), thus guaranteeing a regular income for the investor. The scheme has two types of certificates — 5-year and 10-year.
National Pension Scheme (NPS)
NPS is a pension cum investment scheme launched by the government of India to provide old age security to citizens of India. The scheme offers tax saving options to both government and private employees. Any citizen between the age of 18-60 can invest in it. The amount invested by the depositor is invested in several schemes including the equity markets. Again the basic amount of deduction offered by the fund is up to ₹1.5 lakh on the same amount of investment. However, NPS allows one to get an additional ₹50,000 deduction under section 80CCD (1B), taking the overall tax deduction amount to ₹2 lakh.
Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP)
ULIP is offered by insurance companies that, unlike a pure insurance policy, gives investors both insurance and investment under a single integrated plan.
A portion of the premium paid by the policyholder is utilised to provide insurance coverage to the policyholder and the remaining portion is invested in equity and debt instruments. ULIP also provides tax deduction up to ₹1.5 lakh.
Here are the top 5 best performing ULIP plans in the industry:
ULIP plans by insurance companies
% returns in last 3 years
PNB MetLife – Met Pension Plus
AEGON Life iMaximize Plan – Opportunity Fund
Bharti AXA Life – Future Secure Pension – Growth Opportunities Pension Plus
Future Pension Advantage Plan – Future Pension Active
Kotak Platinum Edge – Frontline Equity Fund
Public Provident Fund (PPF)
PPF is one of the safest investment options to start with that can help you secure your retirement and save tax as well. The PPF has a minimum tenure of 15 years with as little as ₹500 to open an account.
You can open a PPF account through a post office or in any nationalised bank.
Income tax exemptions are applicable on the principal amount invested in a PPF account. The interest rate for PPF is set and paid by the government for every quarter which is currently at 7.1%, more than the savings rate in banks. Taxpayers can claim a maximum deduction up to ₹1.5 lakh.
If you have taken a home loan to buy a new house, you are also allowed to claim a deduction of up to ₹1.5 lakh under section 80C of the income tax. The deduction can be claimed on the principal amount repaid in the particular financial year. Check your home loan interest certificate for EMI payment details.
However, note that even if you put more money i.e ₹1.5 lakh each in any of the above tax saving options like ULIP, ELSS MF, your maximum deduction from taxable income will still be a total of ₹1.5 lakh only.
However, investing in NPS can get you an additional ₹50,000 deduction, taking the overall tax deduction amount to ₹2 lakh.
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