ELSS–the pure equity option for Tax Saving

In case of ULIPs, the investor also has the advantage of two-way fungibility between Equity and Debt.

Published: 12th December 2022 07:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th December 2022 07:33 AM   |  A+A-

Plan , Tax Saving

For representational purposes

Express News Service

With the calendar year-end Advance Tax payment date closing in, many taxpayers tend to wake up to the need of completing their tax-saving investments. While there are multiple options on offer, the sole pure equity option on offer in this category is the Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS) offered by mutual fund houses.

The Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) product offered by insurance companies is another popular option, where the lock-in is restricted to 5 years though ideally, one should hold it for a longer tenure to optimize returns.

In the case of ULIPs, the investor also has the advantage of two-way fungibility between Equity and Debt.  For almost all the remaining Tax Saving instruments, including the Tax Saving Bank Deposits, the underlying investment vehicle is debt and the minimum lock-in period is at least 5 years, with some having even longer holding tenures.

Of such investment options, the Public Provident Fund (PPF), remains the most popular tax-saving debt-based investment for those averse to equity. The lock-in period is five times longer, though in this case, the returns unlike ELSS are still tax-free.

When one looks at the relative 3-year performance of the ELSS as compared to its alternative tax-saving instruments, on more occasions than not it has been superior. The reason for focusing on 3-year returns here is simply because the lock-in period for ELSS is 3 years, which makes it the shortest tenure tax saving instrument.

Besides its plus points of being the only tax-saving instrument where the underlying asset class is equity and its being locked in for just 3 years, there is another unique feature that the ELSS offers investors.
Once the funds complete 3 years of investment, the same can be redeemed and reinvested without having to bother about a fresh infusion of funds to save taxes under Section 80C. Hence, the outflows can be restricted to three years and thereafter, the funds can be rolled over if needed, thus not impacting a tax payers’ liquidity.

This of course must be accompanied by the caveat that there is an underlying assumption of being at least a status quo in the sum invested if not appreciation. But, as I mentioned before, historical evidence suggests that it is the case, more often than not.

A suggestion I always make while discussing ELSS with anyone is that investors in ELSS would do well to consider completing it during the early part of the year so that their compounding tenure increases.
Alternatively, one could plan it as a SIP and let it run on auto-pilot for at least three years.  Hence, assuming one is claiming their entire Section 80C base entitlement of R1.5 lakh via ELSS, then an ongoing monthly SIP of R12,500 could be worth considering.

Finally, one must choose their tax saving investment based on their risk appetite. For younger investors with a relatively higher risk appetite, ELSS could be the route to take.

Ashok Kumar
Head of LKW-India. He can be reached at ceolotus@hotmail.com


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp