Why ELSS Tax Saving Mutual Funds is best choice for tax planning

Why ELSS Tax Saving Mutual Funds is best choice for tax planning

Investors can save up to Rs 46,350 in taxes per year by investing up to Rs 1.5 Lakhs in eligible schemes under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act 1961. There are broadly two types of tax savings schemes – risk free or low risk schemes and market linked schemes. The risk free or low risk schemes are Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Certificates (NSC), 5 year tax saving Fixed Deposits (offered by banks and post office), traditional life insurance plans (e.g. endowment plans, money back plans etc), Senior Citizens Savings Schemes etc. In these schemes capital safety is assured. In some schemes like NSC, FDs returns (interest) are guaranteed, while in others the interest rates can change from time to time over the investment tenure.

The market linked schemes under Section 80C are ELSS Tax Savings Mutual Fund Schemes or Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) and Unit Linked Insurance Plans offered by life insurance companies. ELSS and ULIPs invest in capital market securities and therefore, they are subject to market risks. If you want assurance of capital safety then market linked schemes are not for you and you should invest in Government small savings schemes (PPF, NSC etc) or Bank tax saving FDs.

However, if you are willing to take risks and are prepared to remain invested even beyond the lock-in period of these schemes then ELSS is the best tax saving investment choice. ELSS enjoys three big advantages compared to other tax saving investments.

Potential of giving superior returns

Favourable tax treatment

Superior liquidity
In this blog post we will discuss these advantages of ELSS vis a vis other 80C schemes.

Superior Returns
Historical data shows that, equity is best performing asset class in the long term. In the last 20 years, the S&P BSE – Sensex gave 11.7% compounded annual returns, while bank FDs gave average annualized returns of only 7% over the entire period. Many investors focus simply on tax savings and ignore the growth potential or the tax implications on the maturity amount. The result is that, they get sub-optimal returns which struggle to beat inflation on a post tax basis. ELSS tax saving mutual fund Schemes, on the other hand, offer both 80C tax savings and wealth creation potential over a sufficiently long investment horizon. The table below shows the post tax inflation adjusted rate of different 80C investment schemes over the last 5 years.

Key Assumptions: The investor is the in highest (30%) tax bracket. Average category returns over the last 5 years have been assumed for ELSS. Please note top performing ELSS schemes gave higher returns. Life insurance endowment plans returns assumption is based on prevailing IRRs of life insurance endowment plans.
You can see in the table above that, ELSS has outperformed all other 80C schemes. Notice the last column post tax returns. You can see how some returns can seem attractive on a pre-tax basis, but low on a post tax basis. We will discuss the taxation aspect in more details later in this post. Let us now discuss another important aspect that is often ignored by investors, when looking at returns and when making investment decisions.

You will see many people complaining about rising prices, but how many people factor in inflation when making investment decisions? In the chart above, we saw post tax returns of several Section 80C investment schemes over the last 5 years. Let us now bring inflation into the picture. The chart below shows the CPI inflation rate from 2013 to 2017.

Author: Manjushree Sudheendra

I am Manjushree Sudheendra studying in 10th Standard in St. Teresa's School, Santacruz, Mumbai

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