Check top schemes to save Income Tax

Normally, people start investing only when a financial year is near its end. Due to this, there is not much room for good investment planning and the returns also are not so good sometimes.

To do a good investment with better returns and tax benefits, a person needs to start investing in the early quarters of the financial year. With this, an individual can also minimise the chances of making wrong investments.

Often an investor invests to avail tax benefits. However, the subscriber should look out for four factors while opting for tax-saving investments – maximum tax savings, minimum risk, low cost of investment, substantial returns.

The schemes should also fall under Section 80C of the Income-Tax Act. According to the section, the deductions made towards certain investments are tax deductible. Some of the savings schemes which fall under the section 80 of I-T Act are Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS), Fixed Deposits (FDs), Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Scheme or National Savings Certificate and National Pension Scheme (NPS).

Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS):

ELSS is an equity diversified fund and depositors enjoy both the benefits of capital appreciation and tax benefits. The lock-in period for ELSS is just three years after which the investor can sell it. Investors are eligible for a tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh under section 80C. The investment in an ELSS can also be made via a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP), where a person can spend a small fixed fraction every month instead of paying a heavier sum altogether.

Public Provident Fund (PPF):

Public Provident Fund is a long-term investment plan which offers lucrative tax-free interest. Under the scheme, the money is locked up for 15 years. However, PPF also provides a facility to make premature withdrawals. The investment and withdrawal from the PPF account are also exempted from tax. The rate of return is 7.6 per cent. The interest earned as well as the corpus received at the time of its maturity are also exempt from tax.

National Pension Certificate (NPC):

It is one of the most popular tax-saving schemes for small taxpayers. It is a government-run scheme under the Income Tax Act and the interest earned on NSC is taxable under the head ‘Income from other sources’. There is no maximum limit of investment. However, a minimum amount of Rs 100 needs to be invested. The money is locked in for five years under the NPC scheme.

National Pension Scheme (NPS): Under section 80C, the employees’ contribution into the EPF is allowed to be deducted up to Rs 1,50,000. This is the maximum amount that can be deducted from a subscriber’s basic salary. As for NPS, subscribers can get a maximum of Rs 2 lakh in total, according to the Income-tax (I-T) Act. NPS offers tax saving at the first two stages of contribution and interest accrual but withdrawals are taxable. The lumpsum withdrawal in NPS will be exempt up to 40 per cent of such withdrawals.

Fixed Deposits (FDs):

It is one of the oldest and most reliable tax-saving instrument. Interest earned through the FDs is added to the person’s income and is considered as taxable. However, the investment, amount gets the benefit of tax exemption under Section 80C.