Fixed income investments are specialized for risk-averse investors who want the safety of their money with assured returns. Along with these two aspects, schemes such as Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Certificate (NSC), and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY), also offer tax-saving benefits under section 80C of the Income Tax Act since the returns from these schemes are entirely tax-exempt. Fixed-income instruments should be an integral part of every investor's portfolio to ensure security, mainly during times of economic volatility. So, let's take a look at some of the best fixed-income investments under the ambit of section 80C, where you can safely park your money.
PPF is a favorite mode of investment among the Indian middle-class. It’s considered to be a safe investment that offers an interest rate of 8%.
You may choose to invest a lump sum or make periodic contributions to your PPF account. You can claim a tax deduction for investments of up to Rs 1.5 lakh in a fiscal year under section 80C of the Income Tax Act. PPF is a safe investment avenue as the government reviews it. Currently, the investment, interest and maturity proceeds in PPF are entirely tax-free. New investors can buy this scheme either at a post office or any designated branch of a public sector bank that provides this facility. Also, there are a few private banks that offer the facility to invest in PPF.
The current interest rate offered in SSY is 8.5 percent. You can make a contribution of up to Rs 1.5 lakh per account in a financial year under section 80C. However, there’s a catch. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is applicable only to the parents of a girl child. This scheme can be availed for a maximum of two daughters who are not more than ten years of age during the time of opening the account. In this scheme, you can claim a deduction for investments up to Rs 1.5 lakh only in a fiscal year according to section 80C of the Income Tax Act. There are no restrictions on the number of deposits that you can make either in a month or a financial year. The interest rate of SSY is linked with government bond yield and is subject to change every quarter as per the discretion of the government. You can utilize the maturity proceeds of this program for the education and wedding expenses of your daughter.
The current interest rate offered by VPF schemes is 8.65%. You can contribute your entire basic salary and DA (dearness allowance) to this fund. However, you can only claim a standard tax deduction for investments up to Rs 1.5 lakh in a fiscal year under section 80C of the Income Tax Act. Hence, if you have already crossed your 80C limit through other investments or expenditures, such as EPF, PPF, ELSS, FDs, etc., then you won't be able to use the additional VPF contribution to save more tax amount.
If you’re wondering how VPF and EPF are different, then let’s help you understand. Unlike EPF, VPF facilitates the employees to voluntarily deposit beyond a fixed contribution limit in their PF accounts. However, in VPF, it is not necessary for the employer to make a matching contribution as it is mandatory in EPF. VPF also has lock-in conditions until retirement or resignation, whichever is earlier.
VPF is an excellent investment tool for saving tax under section 80C as it gives a tax-free return. Further, the gains are risk-free since the government guarantees them. VPF offers you the dual benefit of a tax saving scheme and a retirement planning scheme, and salaried employees should allocate a higher proportion of their salary to VPF for substantial tax-saving.
The current interest rate offered by SCSS is 8.7%. A maximum contribution of Rs 15 lakh is allowed in this scheme. As a senior citizen, you can claim a deduction for investments up to Rs 1.5 lakh in a fiscal year under section 80C. SCSS is a tax-saving instrument for people who are above the age of 60. However, if you have opted for voluntary retirement, you can start investing in SCSS even at the age of 58. On October 3, 2017, the Ministry of Finance announced that the minimum age limit for retired defense personnel is reduced to 50 years for investing in SCSS. This scheme has a lock-in period of five years. And, if you want to extend the tenure further, you can continue it for another three years. No partial withdrawal is allowed before the expiry of the lock-in period. However, in case of an emergency, you can prematurely close the account with a penalty levied on the withdrawal.
The current interest rate offered in tax-saving bank Fixed Deposits (FD) is around 7-8.25%. The maximum amount that you can invest in this scheme is Rs 1.5 lakh, for which you can claim a deduction in a fiscal year under section 80C. The tax saving bank fixed deposits have a lock-in period of 5 years. This scheme is highly preferred for investments due to the assurance of capital preservation and returns as compared to equity investments in terms of tax-saving. It is convenient for the last minute tax savers, and the interest rates on this scheme are reviewed and changed periodically by the banks.
The current interest rate offered in NSC is 8%. There is no cap on the amount of investment that you can make in NSCs. However, you can only claim a deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh during investment declaration. Currently, National Savings Certificate is available for five-year subscriptions only. The interest rate is reviewed every quarter by the government and modified accordingly. Although interest earned from National Saving Certificate is taxable, the interest amount is considered re-invested (except in the last year of tenure) as it is not paid back to the investor until the maturity of the instrument. Hence, the re-invested interest component also qualifies for deduction under Section 80C of the income tax act. The interest earned in the final year of the tenure is not considered re-invested and is paid back to the investor for that year along with the principal and accrued interest in the previous years.
The interest rates on PPF and SSY are reviewed and changed quarterly as per the discretion of the government, and the change in rates applies to existing accounts along with the newly opened ones. However, in NSC and Senior Citizen Savings Scheme, new interest rates are applicable only for newly opened accounts, i.e., the interest rate for existing deposits remains the same. Hence, before choosing any of the fixed income schemes mentioned above, indulge in in-depth research and compare the plans in terms of return on investment, interest rate, income tax saving, and lock-in tenures. Finalize the one that suits your requirements. Happy Savings!