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Personal financial management is central to securing funds for the future. It helps streamline your current financial condition based on your income and expenses and allocates funds for savings and investment purposes to accumulate the required finances for managing emergencies and accomplishing future financial goals. One of the best ways to make smart investment decisions is to choose tax-saving investment options.
The Government of India has introduced several tax provisions that encourage investors to purchase different financial products and save or accumulate funds for the future. Investing in such financial products will provide tax deductions and exemption benefits that reduce the tax liability for the financial year. As there are various options, choosing the best tax-saving investment plan in India is crucial for ensuring maximal benefits.
Here is a detail about some of the best tax-saving instruments. You can analyse the features, compare the options, and make the best investment to save income tax.
Table of Content
Taxes are the most important sources of revenue for the Government. It helps in funding the infrastructure development initiatives in the Country. However, increased income tax payments can raise the financial burden for you as a taxpayer.The income tax slabs are based on the different categories of taxpayers and the annual income earned.
The Government introduced tax deductions and exemption benefits on some of the investments to reduce income tax. Therefore, the investment made in certain financial products and the payouts received from them will qualify for the tax benefits to reduce the taxable income and further the tax liability subject to the terms and conditions of the individual products.
The financial institutions in India have introduced various investment products for different purposes, such as saving funds or appreciating wealth to secure the future. Analysing these product features and the tax benefits will help you choose the best investment to save income tax. After choosing the best income tax investment plan, staying invested is important to ascertain long-term benefits.
The Equity Linked Savings Scheme is a mutual fund scheme that provides market-linked returns. As a mutual fund scheme has a pool of investors and is managed by an Asset Management Company, it is considered less risky than direct equity. You can choose the ELSS tax-saving investment if you lack the knowledge required to analyse and invest in direct equity for increased returns. In addition, you can choose the fund options for the ELSS tax saving investment based on your risk appetite between the high-risk, medium-risk, and low-risk fund options.
Furthermore, to make the investment affordable and convenient and to increase the ELSS funds tax benefit, you can invest in it regularly as a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP). The lock-in period is 3 years. ELSS mutual fund tax benefit is based on the Section 80C deduction limit.
The investment and the ELSS funds tax benefit provide higher returns over the long term. The investments qualify for the tax deduction and returns up to ₹1 Lakh are tax-exempt. Beyond this tax exemption limit, the returns are taxable as capital gains at 10%. Furthermore, the dividends are also taxed at a rate of 10%.
The NPS is a savings scheme introduced by the Government for the Central and State Government employees and employees in the organised and unorganised sectors to secure funds for their retirement. Investment in the NPS offers various tax benefits. Salaried and self-employed individuals can contribute to the NPS tax saving scheme. If the contribution is made by salaried individuals, the contribution has to be made by the employees and the employers equally.
The contribution is 14% of the salary for Government employees and 10% for other employees. When you retire, you can withdraw up to 60% of the accumulated fund. The remaining 40% of the fund accumulated should be invested in an annuity plan for a monthly income after retirement. Therefore, the investment period for the NPS tax saving scheme is until retirement.
The NPS tax benefit is based on the subsections of Section 80C, Section 80CCD (1), Section 80CCD(1b) and Section 80CCD (2). The NPS income tax benefit under Section 80CCD (1) is the tax deduction of up to ₹1.5 Lakh, the Section 80C limit, and it is 10% if you are a salaried individual and 20% if you are self-employed.
In addition, individuals can increase their self-contribution and claim an additional deduction benefit of up to ₹50,000 under Section 80CCD(1b). Furthermore, the NPS income tax benefit extends to a tax deduction under Section 80CCD (2) for the employer's contribution of up to 10% of the basic salary.
The NPS tax benefit on the payout is that 60% of the funds withdrawn after retirement is tax-exempt. However, the pension received after retirement is taxable based on the income tax slab.
Life insurance is a product that provides financial security for your dependent family members. A term plan provides a lump sum death benefit to your nominee in the event of your unexpected demise. Insurers also provide comprehensive life insurance plans that provide savings and investment benefits apart from the life cover. Furthermore, it is an important investment for every taxpayer considering the life insurance tax benefits.
The tax benefits of the life insurance policy are based on Section 80C and Section 10(10D) of the Income Tax Act 196. The premium paid for life insurance for self, spouse and dependent children qualify for a tax deduction under Section 80C. And the payout received from the life insurance qualifies for the tax exemption benefits under Section 10(10D).
The ULIP plan is a comprehensive life insurance policy that provides a life cover benefit and the option to invest in the financial securities market. Thus, it provides the dual benefits of providing financial security to your family in the event of your unexpected demise and the option for wealth creation while saving on tax.
The tax-saving ULIP plan provides various fund options for the different categories of investors based on their risk appetite. For example, there are equity, debt, and hybrid fund options. If you are an investor with a high-risk appetite can invest in the equity fund option. And, if you prefer being a conservative investor, you can invest in the debt fund option.
In addition, the tax-saving ULIP plan allows you to switch between fund options during extreme financial conditions. For example, if you had chosen a high-risk equity investment, you can switch to a medium-risk or a low-risk investment during extreme economic downturns.
Furthermore, you can purchase the ULIP plan online, monitor the investment value, and make timely revisions to ensure consistent returns throughout the investment tenure. It has a 5-year lock-in period, after which partial withdrawal is permissible.
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A Public Provident Fund is a long-term retirement planning scheme introduced by the Government. You can open a PPF account with a bank or a post office. After opening the PPF account, you must deposit funds throughout the policy tenure every financial year. It can be monthly or annual deposits. Upon maturity, you will receive the accumulated funds with interest earned. In addition, your investment and returns qualify for the PPF income tax benefit. The current PPF interest rate is 7.1% and is compounded annually.
The lock-in period for the PPF account is 15 years. However, based on the requirement, you can increase it for a block of 5 years. The longer you stay invested, the higher the PPF tax benefit. The minimum and maximum investments are ₹500 and ₹1.5 Lakh per annum.
You can withdraw funds from the PPF account after completing 15 years upon maturity. However, in case of a financial emergency or need, you can withdraw funds after completing five financial years, which means in the 7th year of investment. There is no limit on the number of withdrawals. However, you can withdraw funds only once every financial year.
The most important aspect of the investment is the PPF tax benefit. The PPF investment falls under the tax Exempt - Exempt - Exempt category, which means the amount deposited, interest earned, and maturity returns qualify for the tax deduction and exemption benefits. However, the PPF investment tax benefit on the deduction is up to the ₹1.5 Lakh Section 80C limit. The PPF income tax benefit accumulates into a huge fund if you stay invested in its long-term.
The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is one of the best saving schemes in India to secure the life of girl children in your family. It is a popular investment option considering the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana tax benefit. You can open the SSY Account if you are a parent or a legal guardian for girl children less than 10 years of age. You can open up to two accounts, one for each girl child.
Partial withdrawal of up to 50% of the balance is applicable for your child's higher education after she attains the age of 18. The current interest rate is 7.6%. And the investment tenure is 21 years from when the account is opened or after she attains the age of 18 and when she gets married. However, you must contribute to the SSY account for 15 years. The minimum investment and maximum investment are ₹250 and ₹1.5 Lakh.
The tax benefits of Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana make it a popular scheme. The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana tax benefit is that the investment will qualify for the tax deduction of up to ₹1.5 Lakh under Section 80C. Furthermore, the interests earned from the SSY investments are tax-exempt.
The National Savings Certificate is a fixed-income post office investment scheme. It is a government that encourages small to mid-income group people to invest regularly for the long term. The interest earned is compounded annually and payable at the end of the policy tenure. The minimum investment is ₹100, and the current interest rate is 6.8% per annum. The lock-in period for NSC is 5 years.
The tax deduction on National Savings Certificate is based on Section 80C. Therefore, the investment made in the NSC qualifies for the tax deduction under Section 80C. And the interest earned is taxed as per the income tax slab. However, there is an additional National Savings Certificate tax benefit if the interest is reinvested. It qualifies for the tax deduction under Section 80C within the applicable limit in the year it is reinvested.
The SCSS is one of the best income tax saving schemes for senior citizens. However, individuals between 55 and 60 who have opted for early retirement can also invest in this senior citizen tax saving scheme. The interest earned from the SCSS will be credited to your savings account maintained with the same post office. The current interest rate for the senior citizen tax saving scheme is 7.4% per annum. The lock-in period is 5 years. However, you can increase the investment period by 3 years. The minimum and maximum investment for the senior citizen tax saving scheme are ₹1000 and ₹15 Lakh.
The senior citizen savings scheme tax benefit for deduction is based on Section 80C. Therefore, the amount deposited qualifies for the deduction benefits up to the Section 80C limit. The interest earned from the SCSS is taxable. However, senior citizens can claim a deduction of up to ₹50,000 under Section 80TTB for the returns credited under these income tax saving schemes for senior citizens.
The tax-saving fixed deposit is one of the best investment plans for conservative investors. The amount you have deposited will earn interest through the investment tenure. You can choose the investment amount, period, and interest payout frequency. The amount deposited and the interest earned will be the maturity benefit.
In addition, you can withdraw funds from the fixed deposits before the maturity date, avail of loans, and reinvest the interest earned based on the amount deposited to accumulate a huge fund at maturity. The interest rate ranges between 3% and 7.5%. The investment made in the tax-saving fixed deposit scheme qualifies for the tax deduction benefit under Section 80C. However, the interests earned are taxable based on the applicable income tax slab.
Investing in pension plans provide financial security for retirement needs. It helps accumulate funds throughout your employment phase and lets you invest the accumulated amount in annuity plans to receive a regular income after retirement. The Government and financial institutions such as banks provide different types of pension plans in India. Life insurance providers also offer pension plans with flexible features.
The pension plan tax benefit in India encourages people to invest in these options early in life. Subsections of Section 80C provide the pension plan income tax deduction benefit.
Section 80CCC provides the tax deduction benefit for the investment in pension plans provided by life insurance providers. Section 80CCD (1), Section 80CCD(1b) and Section 80CCD (2) provide the pension plan tax benefit for the investment made in the National Pension Scheme.
A Non-Linked, Non-Participating, Annuity Plan (UIN:110N161V04)
Section 80D provides tax deduction benefits for the premium paid for the health insurance plan for self, spouse, dependent children, and parents. In addition, the tax benefit on health insurance premiums applies to the top-up health plans, health riders in life insurance products and the expenses incurred towards preventive health check-ups. Furthermore, it applies to medical expenditures for senior citizens not covered by a health insurance plan.
According to Section 80D, the maximum deduction for the health insurance tax benefit is ₹25,000 for persons less than 60 years of age and ₹50,000 for senior citizens. If the health insurance plan is purchased separately for you, including your spouse and dependent children and another for your parents, you can claim the tax deduction benefit separately.
Furthermore, Section 80D also provides a tax deduction benefit of up to ₹5000 for preventive health check-ups, and it is within the stated limit of ₹25,000 and ₹50,000.
The maximum tax deduction benefit you can avail of under Section 80C is ₹1.5 Lakh based on the various applicable tax-saving financial instruments.
The tax deduction can also be availed on the premium paid for health insurance plans, income on interest earned from savings bank accounts, etc., The maximum tax you can save is based on your income, financial commitments, and the applicability of the tax benefits for financial instruments that you have chosen.
Let us consider an example.
Ms. Renu is a software professional. The total gross income for Ms. Renu is ₹6 Lakh. She has purchased a life insurance plan with an annual premium of ₹50,000, a health insurance plan for her mother (senior citizen) for ₹70,000 and invested ₹20,000 in ELSS.
Her taxable income is calculated as follows:
Total Gross Income
Premium for life insurance (deduction under Section 80C)
Premium for health insurance for parents (Deduction limit of ₹50,000 for senior citizens under Section 80D)
Investment in ELSS (deduction under Section 80C)
Total Taxable Income (Gross Income - Standard Deduction - Other Deductions)
6,00,000 - 50,000 - 50,000 - 50,000 - 20,000 = 4,30,000
Investment in ELSS and Life insurance qualify for tax benefits under Section 80C of up to ₹1.5 Lakh. Therefore, both investments can be included in the tax deduction benefit.
If there were no investments made by her, the taxable income would have been ₹5.5 Lakh (Standard deduction of ₹50,000 reduced from ₹6 Lakh).
Investment in the NPS is for salaried and self-employed individuals. However, if an employer-employee relationship exists, the employer and employee will contribute equally.
The contribution is 14% of the salary for Government employees and 10% for other employees. The NPS income tax deductions are based on the subsections of Section 80C, Section 80CCD (1), Section 80CCD(1b) and Section 80CCD (2).
The contribution made to NPS qualifies for tax deductions under Section 80CCD (1) of up to ₹1.5 Lakh, the Section 80C limit, and it is 10% if you are a salaried individual and 20% if you are self-employed.
In addition, you can increase your self-contribution and claim an additional deduction benefit of up to ₹50,000 under Section 80CCD(1b). Therefore, tax deductions on the NPS investment can be increased to ₹2 Lakh considering the ₹1.5 Lakh deduction limit under Section 80C and Section 80CCD (1) and ₹50,000 under Section 80CCD(1b).
The income tax liability applies to every financial year. Therefore, you must compare the different tax-saving investment plans and invest in them at the beginning of the financial year.
Many of us plan to invest in the income tax saving plan at the end of the financial year to include the investment for the tax deduction benefits. However, the earlier you start investing, the better the financial returns from the income tax saving plans.
Take time to analyse your financial needs, find the different income tax saving plans, understand their features and benefits, compare the cost, and decide on the best tax saving plan. Start investing early and ensure you stay invested throughout the investment tenure to maximise the financial returns from the investment plans while saving on tax.
Young unmarried taxpayers and couples with single income tax brackets may not have huge family financial commitments. Also, at that age, there is sufficient income to invest in high-risk investment options. Some of the best tax-saving investment plans for people in the age group between 20 and 30 years are:
If the single-income tax gets difficult to manage for you as a taxpayer and the risk appetite is low, you can diversify your investments to ensure consistent investment returns. The proportion of your income to these investments should depend on your financial objectives.
Parents with a single income will always be in a financially difficult situation considering the single source of income and the increasing family financial commitments. However, investing in certain financial products is important to secure the future while saving on income tax rates.
Here are a few tips to reduce single-income tax.
Parents with double income are in a better position than parents having a single income. Therefore, the risk profile can range between medium and low for income tax saving investments.
Here are a few investment tips for choosing the income tax saving options for parents with double income.
The proportion of the investment in the various income tax saving schemes should depend on your current financial condition and future family commitments.
Retirement is the most beautiful part of life. Senior citizens and retired persons should have taken sufficient investment initiatives to secure their future over their employment phase to lead a peaceful retirement. The investment for senior citizens to save tax should be chosen with utmost importance considering the low-risk profile.
Here are a few steps to plan for investing in the tax saving investment for senior citizens.
There are different types of investment plans that provide tax-saving benefits. However, getting the investments right is crucial. Here are a few other income tax-saving tips.
Our experts are happy to help you!
Do I have to pay taxes on the investments?
Tax liability on investments is based on the type of investment option. The Government of India has introduced various tax deductions and exemption benefits on certain types of investments. Therefore, verify if your investment qualifies for the tax benefits by understanding some of the most important provisions under the Income Tax Act 1961, such as Section 80C.
How many tax-free investment instruments can one have?
There is no defined limit on the investment instruments that you can have. However, if you are availing of a tax deduction benefit under a specific Section in the Income Tax Act, it is important to know the tax deduction limit. For example, the maximum limit for investments that qualify for Section 80C is ₹1.5 Lakh. Therefore, if you have exhausted this deduction limit, you may be unable to claim the tax deduction for the other financial products you hold.
What is the maximum limit of investment under Section 80C?
The maximum limit for investments that qualify for Section 80C is ₹1.5 Lakh.
How can I reduce my tax legally?
You can reduce your tax legally by investing in financial products that qualify for a tax deduction and exemption benefits stated under Section 80 of the Income Tax Act.
How can I reduce my taxable income?
You can reduce your taxable income by investing in financial products that qualify for a tax deduction or exemption benefits under the Income Tax Act 1961. You can reduce the investment directly from the taxable income based on the restricted limit.
What deductions can I claim without receipts?
To claim deductions while filing the ITR, you may not have to provide any receipts for the investments. However, it is important to have the necessary documents and receipts safely to provide them in case of any inconsistencies or for the future reference of the Income Tax Department.
What tax exemptions can I get in India?
You can get tax exemptions on the payout, or the returns received from certain financial products, such as Public Provident Fund, Life Insurance, ULIP Plan, National Pension Scheme, etc.
How much investment is needed to save tax?
There is no restriction or limit on the investment you need to save on tax. Different financial instruments qualify for tax deductions or exemption benefits. However, you can save the maximum on the tax based on the stated restrictions of the various provisions under the Income Tax Act 1961, such as Section 80C. It provides tax benefits for various investment plans, such as Public Provident Fund, Life Insurance, National Pension Scheme etc., of up to ₹1.5 Lakh.
Which investment instruments are tax-free?
There are different types of investment instruments that are tax-free. Some of the most common investment options are stated under Section 80C, such as Life Insurance, Public Provident Fund, Equity Linked Savings Scheme, Unit Linked Insurance Plan, National Pension Scheme, etc.
How to save income tax by investment?
You can save income tax by the investment made in financial instruments that apply for the tax deduction and exemption benefits under the stated provisions of the Income Tax Act 1961, such as Section 80C, Section 80D, etc.
What are the investment options to save tax?
Most investment options to save tax are stated under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. It includes financial products such as Life Insurance, Public Provident Fund, Equity Linked Savings Scheme, National Pension Scheme, etc.