Best Tax Saving Investments Under Section 80C

Section-80C

Every year, all of us, whether salaried or self-employed, pays tax to the government according to our income slabs and savings under section 80C. Now the amount of tax to be deducted is directly proportional to our taxable income. More is the taxable income, more is the amount of tax that we have to pay.

To reduce the taxable income, there are several investments and deductions opportunities available under various sections, from 80C to 80U.

But most of the easily available and known investment schemes are available under section 80C.

To get the maximum benefit of these tax saving investments, there are few golden rules that should be followed by every investor or tax payer.

But we all are so busy in our daily life that we take this for granted, do not prioritize this tax planning activity, and usually end up either paying higher taxes, or not able to generate enough returns that our investments are capable of.

Just like family planning, tour planning, financial planning is also very important.

In normal scenario, we do not know or want to know about various investment options throughout the year, and with the arrival of February or March month, in a hurry to save tax, we usually have only 2 or 3 options that we know about. So we invest whatever we can in those investment options, and think that we are done for that year.

I will share 1 very common example related to such investment mistakes further in this article.

Let us start with deductions under section 80C

Section 80C, the term with which every indian tax player is familiar with. Why? Because we claim almost 100% of our deductions under this section.

The maximum amount of deduction that can be claimed under section 80C is Rs 1.5 lakh for any financial year.

There are variety of investment and deductions available under this. Let us discuss them one by one

Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) & Voluntary Provident Fund (VPF)

For a salaried employee, A part of your salary is deducted monthly as your contribution towards EPF. The total amount deducted annually can be claimed as deduction while computing your annual taxable income.

However, interest earned above the limit of 9.5 percent is taxable at employee end. Similarly, if the employer contribution is more than 12 percent of your salary, then the excess amount is taxable in employee hand.

An employee can also increase his EPF deduction share from 12 percent, to increase his deduction. But his take-home salary would be less. This is called VPF contribution, as the employee is voluntarily investing in this fund. The rate of interest under VPF contribution is revised every year. For FY 2019-20, VPF interest rate is 8.5%.

However employees earning in 20% or more tax bracket are advised to increase their VPF contribution as this will automatically increase their deduction under section 80C.

Moreover, the interest earned and the maturity amount is tax exempt, so you need not to pay any tax on this.

Currently, there are many facilities offered by EPFO to the PF account holders on their website. User can check PF balance, withdraw PF, transfer PF online and add E-nomination by registering through UAN number.

User can also check PF account balance by giving missed call on 011-22901406 from their registered mobile number. To use this facility, the user must have his UAN (Universal Account Number) active and linked to his mobile number.

User can also send SMS to know his PF account balance from his registered mobile number to 7738299899 in the following format

“EPFOHO UAN”

For the convenience of users, this SMS service is supported in different languages. So the user can get the details in his desired language by sending the language code in the below format to 7738299899.

EPFOHO UAN HIN

where HIN is the language code for Hindi.

Other supported language codes are :

  • English – Default
  • Hindi – HIN
  • Bengali – BEN
  • Punjabi – PUN
  • Marathi – MAR
  • Kannada – KAN
  • Telugu – TEL
  • Tamil – TAM
  • Malayayam – MAL
  • Gujarati -GUJ

Alternatively, users can also download UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) app which is developed by MeitY and NeGD to facilitate various services such as balance inquiry, customer support, etc for its users.

Temporarily for 3 months i.e. from May 2020 to July 2020, the finance ministry has reduced EPF employer as well as employee contribution from 12% to 10% per month, to increase the home take away amount of the working people, in order to increase their buying capacity amid COVID-19 lockdown.

Public Provident Fund (PPF)

PPF is provided by indian government and maximum 1,50,000 INR can be claimed as deduction under section 80C in a financial year.

The PPF account can be opened in the name of any resident individual in the nearest bank or post office.

Alternatively, one can also open PPF account online by logging into “Internet Banking” section and create a new PPF account. Some banks also offers PPF account facility in their android mobile apps.

To keep the account active, minimum deposit of Rs 500 in a financial year is necessary.

The maturity period of PPF account is 15 years and one partial withdrawal is allowed. The maturity amount is tax free. The interest in compounded quarterly. Interest rates are subjected to revision every quarter.

I would like to share one common mistake by most tax payers having PPF account.

Many of us invest in PPF account in February or March month, on a random date, to save tax.

Without understanding the fact and PPF interest calculation method.

Suppose to save tax, a person invests Rs 50,000 in PPF account in last week of February. So he will earn interest only for 1 month i.e. March. Had he invested the same amount in the beginning of financial year, he would have earned interest for the complete year.

There are many online PPF calculator tools available to help you wealth planning for future.

That is the reason tax planning is necessary. Remember to invest in the PPF account  from 1st april to 5th april to fetch returns for the complete financial year.

PPF interest rate or PPF rate of interest is subjected to revision every quarter by the RBI. For FY 2020-21 1st quarter, it is very low, 7.1 per cent per annum.

Check this guide about how to manage your personal finances

LIC or Life Insurance Premiums

An investment option under section 80C, everyone is familiar with. Now a days, everyone has atleast one LIC policy. This life insurance premium can be claimed as investment under section 80C, subjected to maximum  limit of Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year. The maturity amount is tax free under section 10(D).

While most of the LIC policies have a yearly premium that need to be paid for a specific amount of time, there are also single premium life insurance (SPLI) policies that offer same benefits like the usual LIC policy. The usual term for the SPLI policy is 10 years after which the maturity amount is paid to the insurer and it is also tax free under section 80C and section 10(D) respectively. But one can also exit the policy after 5 years if he wants to.

However, the premium paid by you for your parents (father/ mother/ both) or your in-laws is not eligible for deduction under Section 80C.

There are 6 types of insurance plans available in market

  • Term life plan
  • Endowment plan
  • Whole life plan
  • ULIP plans
  • Money back plans
  • Annuities or pension plans

Usually people opt for maturity plans which have high monthly or quarterly or half yearly or yearly premiums, and maturity amount also fetch low returns, if compared to other investment options available.

The surrender value of the policy is also usually high ,so there is not benefit of surrendering a LIC.

On the other hand, term plans have low annual premiums but maturity benefit is nil. So if you survived for the whole policy term, you will not getting anything in return. But the insured amount is usually very high as compared to the maturity plans.

People should understand the purpose of buying an LIC. It is an insurance plan, not a wealth generating investment option.

Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS)

Next in the list is mutual fund investment, in the category ELSS i.e. Equity Linked Saving Schemes. The maximum investment in a financial year is capped at Rs 1,50,000.  Note that the investment in the fund have a lock-in period of 3 years. Usually, people rarely invest in this investment option to claim under section 80C, do not lack of knowledge, or confidence in the market.  The maturity amount will be subjected to long term capital gains (LTCG) tax. Keeping the exceptionalities aside, the returns from this mutual fund category are usually in double digits, if invested for a longer term and a good performing fund.

Home Loan Principal Repayment

The home loan EMI consists of two components –  Principal and Interest. The principal of the home loan can be claimed as deduction under section 80C of income tax. The interest of the home loan can be claimed under section 24 and section 80EE of the income tax.

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) Account

In this investment option, the account can be opened on the behalf of your minor daughter till the age of 10. The SSA account has a tenure of 21 years or until the girl child marries, after turning 18 years old.  The current interest rate is 7.6% per annum and is compounded annually. The minimum annual deposit is Rs 250, and maximum is Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year. Interest rate are subjected to revision every quarter.

Sukanya Samridhhi account interest calculator can be found online on many sites, to estimate your girl child savings after she attains account maturity age.

National Savings Certificate (NSC)

NSC is a tax saving investment option with a maturity period of 5 years. A NSC can be purchased from the nearby post office for as low as Rs 100 to no limit on the maximum  invested amount.

However, the interest is compounded annually, and it is taxable.

NSC is basically a cumulative investment scheme. In this, the annual interest is not paid to the investor but it is re-invested. Since it is deemed reinvested, it qualifies for a fresh deduction under Section 80C, making it effectively tax-free investment option. Only the final year interest does not receive tax deduction, as it is paid back the investor.

The maximum deduction that can be claimed in a financial year is Rs 1,50,000. The current interest rates are 6.8% per annum and are subject to revision quarterly. 

Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)

As the name suggests, this investment scheme is only for senior citizens, i.e. any individual in the age group of 60 years or more.  SCSS account can be opened with any bank or post office.

Any investment in this account can be claimed as deduction under section 80C, with the maximum limit being capped at Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year.

In this investment option, the interest rate is 7.4% per annum. It is quarterly paid and not compounded quarterly. Moreover, the interests earned are taxable.

Currently in 1st quarter of FY 2020-21, the RBI has decreased the Senior Citizen Savings Scheme interest rate to 7.4% according to its monetary policy.

Five-year Post Office Deposits

These are similar to bank deposits, with a lock-in period of 5 years. The investment can be claimed as deduction under section 80C. the interest is compounded quarterly, but paid annually.  However, the interest is taxable and is 6.8% per annum for current quarter i.e. April-2020 to June 2020.

Payment of Tuition Fees

If you are paying tuition fees for your children, it can also be claimed as deduction under section 80C. this helps you to save tax. But the fees should be paid in schools, colleges or universities in India only.

National Pension System (NPS)

If any individual opens an NPS account, his contribution can be claimed under section 80CCD (1).

Also, the combined deduction under both section 80C as well as 80CCD (1) cannot exceed Rs 1,50,000.

However, additional contribution of  Rs 50,000 can be claimed under section 80CCD (1B), if invested in NPS.

Also, any contribution made to the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) is also eligible for claim deduction under section 80CCD (1).

Contribution in APY can be made through NSDL website or account can be opened through nearby post office.

The scheme offers a monthly pension of minimum Rs 1,000 and maximum Rs 5,000. If the subscriber dies before maturity, the pension amount is given to the spouse.

In case both die, the nominee can claim the pension amount.

In the scheme, continuous contribution is very critical as the account will be freezed and closed if contribution stops.

Note that, the earlier you start investing APY, lower the premium you have to pay. Minimum age and Maximum age for opening the Atal Pension Yojana account is 18 years and 39 years respectively.

Below is the APY CHART that can referenced to calculate the amount per month need to be paid for monthly pension, according to you age.

APY chart

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) monthly contribution calculator chart

Remember that, your tax and financial planning can help you in making money from your investments in a great way if chosen and invested wisely.

COVID-19 UPDATE : The PFRDA has recently announced that APY contribution will be resumed from 1 July 2020 onwards and all the banks have been instructed to resume with auto debit services.

The APY monthly amount debit service is resumed by PFRDA and collective amount of 3 months has been or will be deducted from the subscribers account soon.

The latest announcement further notified that no penal interest will be charged from the subscribers if their APY account is regularised by September 2020.

OLD vs NEW Tax Regime

The Finance Ministry introduced NEW tax regime for Indian taxpayers in Budget 2020 which gave people an option to fill their income tax in any of the two options :

  • Old tax regime, according to which everyone was filling their ITR till last year
  • New tax regime, which has introduced many tax slabs according to income

While the new tax regime may look lucrative due to number of slabs according to the income of an individual, there is actually a limit upto which you can save tax in this new option.

old vs new tax
SRC : Economic Times

The above chart shows the comparison of taxable salaries and the tax liability under both new as well as old tax regime.

A careful understanding of the chart will help you understand that you can save maximum of Rs 75,000 under the new tax regime. If you are a high-salaried person, you may not be benefited from this option compared to people in lower income brackets.

The tax that high net worth individuals pay – 42.7%, still remains an unsolved problem.

Which tax regime should I opt for?

Usually people end up making wrong choices while answering this question due to lack of knowledge and awareness. While new tax regime gives you various tax slabs options, you cannot avail benefit of many investments and savings that you have made, and claimed as deductions under section 80C in the past.

Lets have a look at most familiar ones :

  • Section 80C
    • PPF
    • LIC
    • ELSS
    • Sukanya Samridhi Yojana
    • NSC
    • Tax saving FD
  • Section 80D
    • Medical Insurance
  • Section 80CCD
    • NPS
    • APY
  • House rent allowance
  • Leave Travel Concession (LTC)
  • Standard deduction of Rs 50,000

While the list is long, usually taxpayers avail benefit of these tax saving instruments and are familiar with them. That’s why only these are listed here.

It is advised to go with “old tax regime” if you are not comfortable with so much calculations and risk associated with them. Also the person can switch between new or old tax regime every year as per his understanding and choice.

Also, employers ask their employees to opt for one tax regime at the start of every financial year, according to which their salary is taxed. So if you have made a wrong choice by mistake, and end up getting more tax deducted, don’t worry! You can still claim all your deductions while filling your ITR online at the end of the financial year 2020-21 by choosing “Old Tax Regime” option there.

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