Section 80C: Deductions for investment in certain financial products

by Gopal Gidwani on December 21, 2009 · 2 comments

in Financial Planning,Fixed Income Securities,Insurance,Taxation,Uncategorized

Section 80C: There are various tax saving investment products available in which an individual or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) can invest for returns and at the same time save tax. The government, in order to encourage savings among people, gives tax benefits for investments made in certain financial products. These financial products are covered in detail under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.
Under Section 80C investment up to a limit of INR 1,50,000 made in these financial products qualifies for deduction from taxable income. In short, it means the person is not required to pay income tax on investments up to INR 1,50,000 made in financial products specified under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. So a person falling in the highest tax bracket of 30% can save up to INR 45,000 in net income tax by utilising the entire limit of Section 80C.

Financial Products covered under Section 80C: The various financial products covered under Section 80C are as follows:
• Employee Provident Fund (EPF)
Five Year Tax Saving Fixed Deposit with Bank or Post Office
Public Provident Fund (PPF)
Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)
Equity Linked Saving Schemes (ELSS)
Life Insurance
• Sukanya Samriddhi Account (SSA)
National Savings Certificates (NSC)
• Pension Plans
Home Loan Principal Repayment (including stamp duty and registration fees)
• Tuition fees paid for children
New products are added to the list by the Finance Ministry from time to time.

Factors to be considered for investments: An investor has a lot of investment options that he / she can choose from before he / she selects the ones in which he / she wants to invest. Every product has its own features. Some of the factors that an investor may consider before he / she selects the product that he / she wants to invest in are as follows:
Tax Treatment on Maturity: There are many products that offer tax deduction at the time of investment but not all products offer tax exemption on returns at the time of taking the maturity proceeds.
For example Ganesh invests INR 1,50,000 in a 5 year tax saver bank FD offering 8% p.a. Ganesh’s investment of INR 1,50,000 qualifies for tax deduction under Section 80C at the time of investment. After 5 years Ganesh will get back his principal of INR 1,50,000 and the interest accumulated on it. The interest that Ganesh gets at the maturity of the FD is taxable. So this reduces the overall returns of the product. The post tax returns will be lower than the original 8% at which the money was invested.
In case of a Public Provident Fund (PPF) an investor gets tax benefits at the time of investment. The maturity proceeds received at the maturity are also tax free.
In case of life insurance, the maturity proceeds or the death benefit amount received is tax-free.

Investment Horizon: Investors need to consider the time horizon for investment before deciding to invest in a product. Some products like Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) have a lock-in period of 3 years.
Tax saving Bank FD’s have a lock-in period of 5 years and the tenure of PPF is 15 years. But PPF allows partial withdrawals during the tenure of the investment period. A long term investor, who doesn’t need money for a long time, may invest in long term investment products like life insurance or PPF. An investor who has short term goals may invest in short term products like ELSS plans or tax saving bank FD.
Senior Citizen Savings Scheme FD has tenure of 5 years and NSC of 5 years.

Risk and Returns: An investor may consider the risk involved and returns given by financial product before choosing the product to invest in. An investor with a high risk appetite looking for potential high returns may invest in an equity market linked instrument like ELSS plan or a Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP).
An investor with a low-risk appetite looking for steady returns may invest in fixed income products like PPF, NSC or tax saving bank FD.

Maximum Investment Limit: An investor may consider the maximum investment limit before choosing a financial product. For example, the maximum amount that can be invested in PPF in a year is INR 1,50,000.
In case of ELSS and ULIPs there is no maximum investment limit, but income tax benefits can be availed only for INR 1,50,000 in a financial year.

Liquidity: Most tax saving investment products come with a lock-in period. An investor may consider the liquidity provided by the financial product before selecting it for investment. For example, PPF allows partial withdrawal during the 15 years tenure of the investment.
Tax savings bank FD cannot be broken before maturity and also banks don’t give loans against these FD’s.
Traditional Life insurance policies and ULIPs allow partial withdrawals but only after completion of 3 years. The investor can also take loans against life insurance policies.
An investor can also take loan against KVP and NSC Certificates.

Inflation protection: An investor may look to invest in financial products that offer returns that can beat inflation. Low fixed returns products should be avoided by investors during periods of high inflation as they yield negative returns when inflation is higher than the returns given by these products.
In the long run equity mutual funds have consistently given higher inflation adjusted returns than returns given fixed return securities.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

AUM Financial Advisors March 7, 2011 at 10:32 am

Thanks for detailed description on the vital topic. I do believe to avail Tax deduction from total income as allowable in Income Tax Act, investment u/s 80c is a pivot investment avenues &/or contributions.


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