You slog all day long at the office trying to take home your fairly prize earned money but wait, there are some tax deductions to make, and your heart sinks skipping a beat!! Well don’t worry; as we bring you some awesome investment options that can not only save your money but also give excellent returns.
Public Provident Fund
It scores well on almost all parameters. This small saving scheme has always been a favorite tax-saving tool, but the linking of its interest rate to the bond yield in the secondary market has made it even better. This ensures that the PPF returns are in line with the prevailing market rates. You can get a PPF account opened in post offices, bank branches of SBI and its associate banks and select private banks such as ICICI Bank. PPF carries a term of 15 years but it can be extended for additional 5 years. A loan facility of up to 25% can be availed from the 3rd financial year till the 5th financial year while a withdrawal of up to 50% is allowed from 6th financial year onwards.
Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS):
Meant for senior citizens aged 60 years or more, SCSS offers 9.30% per annum. The interest payable quarterly is taxable and subject to TDS if the interest amount crosses Rs. 10,000 in a financial year. It has a maturity period of 5 years which can be extended for a further period of 3 years. The maximum you can invest in SCSS is Rs. 15 lakhs but the exemption u/s. 80C would be limited to Rs. 1 lakh only.
5-year Bank FDs:
A faster life these days makes the investors opt for simpler investments and fixed deposits are the most simple to invest option. Different banks offer different interest rates on their tax-saving FDs and you can visit this link to check out the rates offered. These FDs have a lock-in period of 5 years and the interest is taxable.
National Saving Certificates (NSCs), offered by the post offices, give an interest rate of 8.60% per annum compounded half-yearly. The interest is paid at maturity but it is taxable annually. With these NSCs, the amount invested as well as the interest earned every year qualify for a deduction under section 80C. Post offices do not deduct any tax at source though.
During the last financial year, the government introduced NSCs with a maturity period of 10 years. These certificates currently offer 8.90% per annum compounded half-yearly. Rest of their features are the same as that of 5-year NSCs.
Post Office Time Deposit Scheme:
Post offices also offer tax-saving time deposit with a maturity period of 5 years carrying 8.50% per annum interest rate. The interest is payable annually but compounded quarterly. Also, though the interest paid is taxable but TDS is not deducted by the post offices.
Term Deposit Schemes from Government Companies:
A few government companies or financial institutions like National Housing Bank (NHB), HUDCO, NABARD etc. also offer tax-saving term deposits with a lock-in period of 5 years. The interest payable is taxable and subject to TDS if the interest amount crosses Rs. 5,000 in a financial year. NHB offers 9.25% per annum compounded quarterly to the general investors and 9.85% to the senior citizens. NHB is wholly owned by the RBI and hence the deposits are considered as risk-free. It has also been assigned a rating of ‘FAAA’ by CRISIL.
Equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS)
They have the shortest lock-in period of three years among all the tax-saving options under Section 80C. However, this should not be the most important reason for investing in this avenue. Being equity funds, these schemes can generate good returns for investors over the long term. In the past five years, this category has created wealth for investors with average returns of 17.5 per cent.
The 2010 guidelines have reformed the Ulip, turning it into a more customer-friendly investment. Though a Ulip should not be your first insurance policy, you can consider buying one as an investment that also helps you save tax. Of course, it also offers a life cover, but the stress is on investment, not protection. Don’t buy a Ulip (or any other insurance policy, for that matter) if you are not sure whether you can continue paying the premium for the entire term. If you end it prematurely, be ready to pay surrender charges.