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ELSS mutual funds are also referred to as the tax-saving mutual funds. The provisions of Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, allows you to claim tax deductions of up to Rs 1,50,000. ELSS is the best investment option under this Section. By investing in these mutual funds, you get the dual benefit of tax deductions and wealth accumulation over time.
Equity-Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS), commonly referred to as the tax-saving funds, fall under the diversified category of mutual funds. While their maximum exposure is towards equity and equity-oriented securities, a part of the corpus is also invested in debt instruments.
ELSS is covered under the Section 80C provisions and therefore, you can claim tax deductions of up to Rs 1,50,000 a year. This will help you save up to Rs 46,800 a year in taxes. These funds come with a mandatory lock-in period of three years, which is the shortest among all 80C options.
The table below shows the top-performing ELSS mutual funds based on the past five year returns:
|Fund||3-Year Performance||5-Year Performance||Link|
Any individual or HUF looking to save up to Rs 46,800 a year on taxes can consider investing in ELSS. However, these funds are suitable only for those who are willing to take some risk and can stay invested for at least the mandatory lock-in period of three years should invest in ELSS.
Investors are advised to stay invested for a minimum of five years to reap the best returns offered by mutual funds. Five years is a reasonable time. You will give your investments the much needed time to go through the market cycles and provide excellent returns in the long run.
Young investors in the initial years of their professional career can invest with a long-term horizon. ELSS is best suited for young investors as they have time on their side to unleash the power of compounding to the fullest and enjoy high returns while saving on taxes of up to Rs 46,800 a year.
Compare the fund’s performance with peers to ensure that the fund has been consistent over the past years. Based on these parameters, you can invest in the recommended funds. However, remember that the past performance is not indicative of future returns. The future returns are dependent entirely on the market movements and fund manager’s decisions.
Choose fund houses that have performed consistently over a long period, say 5 years to 10 years. A fund’s performance is reflected based on the quality of stocks in its portfolio and benchmark.
Expense ratio depicts how much of your investment goes towards managing the fund. A lower expense ratio translates into higher take-home returns. Therefore, if there are two funds with a similar track record and asset allocation, you need to choose that fund which has a lower expense ratio.
Consider various parameters such as Standard Deviation, Sharpe ratio, Sortino ratio, Alpha, and Beta to analyse the performance of a fund. A fund with a higher standard deviation and beta is riskier than a fund having a lower deviation and beta. Choose funds with a higher Sharpe Ratio as they offer higher returns for the additional risk you take. The fund manager plays a crucial role.
ELSS is the only investment option that not only provides tax deductions under the provisions of Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 but also helps in wealth growth. The equity exposure of the ELSS funds gives you an opportunity to earn excellent returns on staying invested for at least five years.
ELSS mutual funds come with a lock-in period of just three years, which happens to be the shortest among all tax-saving investment options under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Therefore, ELSS mutual funds are more liquid as compared to any other Section 80C investment.
ELSS mutual funds are the only Section 80C investment option which has the potential to offer inflation-beating returns. This is what makes ELSS to stand out among all tax-saving investment options.
All mutual funds are handled by finance professionals called ‘fund managers’. These are individuals with an excellent track record of managing portfolios, and hold various certifications in the field of finance. Every fund manager is backed by a team of market researchers and analysts, who pick only the best-performing securities, which will benefit investors in the long run.
The following are the critical factors that must be considered by investors before they invest in ELSS mutual funds:
Like any other tax-saving investment option, even ELSS mutual funds come with a lock-in period. It is for three years for ELSS, and it is mandatory. There are no provisions to make premature withdrawals. Therefore, investors must be willing to stay for at least three years from the date of purchase of units.
Since ELSS mutual funds are equity-oriented, they are naturally influenced by the market movements. Furthermore, these funds carry all the risks that an equity fund possesses. Therefore, investors must be willing to assume these risks by investing in ELSS mutual funds. Assessing your risk profile is a must.
All mutual funds allow you to invest in two ways; lump sum or systematic investment plan (SIP). Most investors prefer taking the SIP route since they can stagger their investment over a period. You can invest a small sum on a regular basis via an SIP. Investing through an SIP is advisable since it provides the benefit of rupee cost averaging in the long run. A lump-sum investment is generally not advisable unless there is a significant chance of making overwhelming gains.
Since ELSS mutual funds are a class of equity funds, they are necessarily taxed like an equity fund. Any dividends offered by these funds are added to your income and taxed as per the income tax slab you fall under. Until Budget 2020, dividends were made tax-free in the hands of investors as the fund house was supposed to pay dividend distribution tax.
Since there is a mandatory lock-in period of three years, there is no question of enjoying short-term capital gains. Therefore, the tax on short-term capital gains on selling the fund units of ELSS mutual funds is non-existent. The long-term capital gains of up to Rs 1 lakh a year are made tax-exempt. Any long-term gains exceeding Rs 1 lakh are taxed at a rate of 10%, and there is no benefit of indexation provided.
Since ELSS mutual funds are equity-oriented funds, they carry the same levels and kinds of risks that any other equity mutual fund carries. However, these risks can be mitigated to a great extent by staying invested for a minimum of five years. Also, the mandatory lock-in period of three years helps significantly in reducing the risk.