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ELSS – Benefits of Equity Linked Savings Scheme

An ELSS or Equity Linked Savings Scheme is just like any other mutual fund scheme. It invests primarily in equity or equity related instruments. ELSS are usually termed as tax saving schemes since they offer an exemption of upto INR 1,50,000. The deduction comes under section 80C of Chapter VI-A of the Income Tax Act.

ELSS funds invest in stocks of listed companies. The investment takes place in specific proportions according to the investment objective of the fund. The stocks are chosen from across market capitalisation (Large, Mid and Small Caps) and various industry sectors. These funds aim to maximise capital over the long run.

ELSS gives an opportunity for investors who want to reduce their tax liability and grow their capital at the same time. Following are the Features and benefits of investing in ELSS:

Features and benefits of ELSS

1. Tax Benefit

Investments upto INR 1,50,000 in ELSS are eligible for deduction u/s 80C. Also, any dividend or long term capital gain earned by the investor is exempted from income tax up to a limit. Gains over INR 1 lakh attract a rate of only 10%. Lower tax rates and higher returns are a huge advantage of investing in ELSS.

For example-

Note: Deduction under section 80C can only be claimed if you opt for the Old Tax Regime. Read more over here.

2. Lowest lock-in period

ELSS funds have a minimum lock-in period of 3 years. The investor has an obligation to invest for a minimum of 3 years. This inculcates a good habit to stay invested for a long period of time. ELSS mutual funds have the shortest lock-in period among all other tax-saving instruments. The investor can also allow continuous growth of the fund beyond these 3 years.

3. Saving habit

ELSS allows you to invest through a monthly SIP or Systematic Investment Plan. You can invest as low as INR 500 per month. This nurtures a continuous habit of investing. The returns of the SIP amounts will be generated every month after the lock-in period of 3 years.

4. High returns

ELSS is essentially an equity scheme, it has the potential to deliver exponential returns in the long run. Moreover, investment in ELSS has the potential to deliver significantly higher returns compared to traditional tax saving instruments.

ELSS has the lowest lock-in period amongst all other tax saving instruments. To add on, where savings can give about 8% of returns, investing in equity may produce higher returns in a favorable situation in the stock market. This creates an opportunity to invest as well as save at the same time.

5. Diversification

Investment portfolio of ELSS consists of balanced allocation to different asset classes such as equity and debt securities. Besides this, numerous funds diversify within the equity category as well, allocating the assets to large cap, mid cap, small cap equity stocks.

Through ELSS, one can easily diversify their overall investment portfolio and effectively mitigate market risk.

Ways to Invest in ELSS Funds:

1. Online and offline

You can invest in ELSS online seamlessly through online platforms or directly through the websites of the Asset Management Companies (AMCs), offering the fund.

This conventional mode of investment requires an investor to fill a form and submit it at the nearby branch of the fund house, or invest through a broker.

2. Growth option

When you go for the growth option, you will not receive benefits in the form of dividends. You will get the gains only at the time of redemption. This helps to appreciate the total NAV. This in turn multiplies the profits. However, one should keep in mind- the returns are subject to market risk.

3. Dividend option

Under this option, an investor gets benefits from time to time in the form of dividends, which are completely tax-free. The dividend is declared only when there are excessive profits, over and above.

4. Dividend Reinvestment option

This is an option under which an investor reinvests the dividends received to add to the NAV (Net Asset Value). This works well, particularly when the market is seeing an upward trend and is likely to continue the same way.

Read more about ELSS over here.

Who Can Invest in ELSS Mutual Funds:

Blog: Tax Hack 103: Tax Savings Investments

Comparison with Other 80C Investments

Name of Instrument Lock-in Period Approx Returns Tax on Returns
ELSS 3 years 12-14% Taxed at 10% on long term capital gains above INR 1 lakh
Tax-saving FD 5 years 6-7% Yes
National Saving Certificate (NSC) 5 years 7-8% Yes
Public Provident Fund 15 years (premature withdrawals allowed from 7th year) 7-8% Returns are exempt from tax
National Pension Scheme (NPS) After the age of 60 8-10% Partially Taxable

Although the tax benefits of ELSS are huge and there is an additional benefit of wealth creation, the risk associated with ELSS is high and should not be overlooked.

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