TechnoparkToday.com(Jan, 2015): The budget has raised the deduction limits, so here we are listing some best investment options under Section 80C to save tax
PPF (Public Provident Fund)
The PPF offers investors a lot of flexibility. You can open an account in a post office branch or a bank. The maximum investment of Rs1.5 lakh in a year can be done as a lump sum or as instalments on any working day of the year. Just make sure you invest the minimum Rs 500 in your PPF account in a year, otherwise you will be slapped with a nominal, but irksome, penalty of Rs 50. Though the PPF account matures in 15 years, you can extend it in blocks of five years each. The PPF is useful for risk-averse investors, self-employed professionals and those not covered by the EPF.
ELSS funds (Equity-linked saving schemes Fund)
Equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS) have the shortest lock-in period of three years among all the tax-saving options under Section 80C. These schemes can generate good returns for investors over the long term. The minimum investment in ELSS funds is very low. Though regular equity mutual funds have a minimum investment of Rs 5,000, you can put in as little as Rs 500 in an ELSS scheme. Unlike a Ulip, pension plan or an insurance policy, there is no compulsion to continue investments in subsequent years. To make most of ELSS funds, stagger your investment over a period of time instead of putting a large sum at one go.
The 2010 guidelines have made Ulips more customer-friendly. But keep in mind that a Ulip yields good results only if held for at least 10-12 years.
This assured return scheme is the best tax-saving avenue for senior citizens. However, the Rs 15 lakh investment limit somewhat curtails its utility. The interest rate is 100 basis points above the 5-year government bond yield. The interest is paid on 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December, irrespective of when you start investing.
Its low-cost structure, flexibility and other investor-friendly features make the New Pension Scheme an ideal investment vehicle for retirement planning. The scheme scores high on flexibility. The minimum investment of Rs 6,000 can be invested as a lump sum or in instalments of at least Rs 500. There is no limit. The investor also decides the allocation to equity, corporate bonds and gilts. Be ready for a lot of legwork before you can buy.
Bank FDs and NSCs
Don’t get misled by the high interest rates offered on the 5-year bank fixed deposits. Interest income is fully taxable so the post-tax yield may not be as high as you think. In the 20 per cent and 30 per cent income tax brackets, it is not as attractive as the yield of the tax-free PPF.
Life Insurance plans
Though the Irda guidelines for traditional plans have made insurance policies more customer-friendly, they are still the worst way to save tax. The tax saving is only meant to reduce the cost of insurance. It is not the core objective of the policy.
The charges of pension plans offered by life insurers are significantly higher than those of the NPS. The difference can snowball into a wide gap over the long term. The other problem is that annuity income is still not tax-free, which makes pension plans rather unattractive for retires.