Tax Saving Investments

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Tax saving investments in India are an integral part of financial planning for  individuals and businesses alike. Section 80C, 80D, 80CCD (1B), 24(b), 80TTA/ 80TTB, and 10 (10D) under the Income Tax Act, 1961 are some of the significant tax saving sections. By strategically allocating funds to these investments, you not only reduce your tax liabilities but also build wealth over time.

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Sameep Singh
Written By: Sameep Singh
Sameep Singh
Sameep Singh Business Unit Head - Domestic Savings
Mr. Sameep Singh is a Business Unit Head for the domestic Investment Business at policybazaar.com, holding a master's from Symbiosis School of Banking & Finance. He has played a pivotal role in crafting investment and term business strategies during his tenure at Policybazaar. His exceptional leadership has been instrumental in driving both product and business growth throughout his impressive career.
Vivek Jain
Reviewed By: Vivek Jain
Vivek Jain
Vivek Jain Head of Savings business
Mr. Vivek Jain is the Business Unit Head for Investment Business at Policybazaar.com. A graduate of the prestigious IIM Calcutta he brings over a decade of invaluable experience to his current role. In his capacity as Business Unit Head, he has been a driving force behind the success of Policybazaar's Investment business. Mr. Jain is recognized for his instrumental role in product innovation within the Savings/Investment domain. His leadership and expertise have been pivotal in scaling up the Investment business, underscoring his significant contributions to Policybazaar.com's growth and success.

Best Tax Saving Investments in India in 2023

Although there are various tax saving investments available in the market, people often get confused about which plan best suits them.

The following table of the best tax saving investments under the Income Tax Act, 1961 will help you to choose the best investment plan as per your risk appetite and preferences:

Tax Saving Options Returns* Lock-in Period Tax Benefits under Income Tax Act, 1961
Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) 11% to 20% p.a. (depending on the chosen plan) 5 years Section 80C and 10 (10D)
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) 8% p.a. 21 years Section 80C and 10 (10D)
Public Provident Fund (PPF) 7.1%  p.a. 15 years Section 80C
Employee Provident Fund (EPF) 8.15% p.a. 5 years Section 80C
Senior Citizen Saving Scheme (SCSS) 8.20% p.a. 5 years Section 80C
National Pension Scheme (NPS) 9% to 12% p.a. 3 years Section 80C, 80 CCD(1B), and 80 CCD(2)
National Savings Certificate (NSC) 7.7% p.a. 5 years Section 80C
Tax Saver FDs 5.5% to 7.75% p.a. 5 years Section 80C
ELSS Fund Returns vary as per the performance of underlying assets 3 years Section 80C
Life Insurance Depends on policy Varies from plan to plan Section 80C; Maturity amount tax-free if policy term is more than 2 years
Term Insurance No returns No lock-in Tax free death benefit
Health Insurance No returns No lock-in Premiums up to Rs. 50,000 for self, spouse, and dependent parents under Sec 80D; Additional Rs. 25,000 for senior citizen parents
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  1. Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP)

    ULIPs, or Unit Linked Insurance Plans, are investment-cum-insurance products that offer tax- saving benefits in India. These are the popular tax- saving investments that combine the elements of life insurance and the best investment options, providing you with an opportunity to grow your wealth while ensuring financial protection.

    Tax Benefits Under ULIP Plans:

    Section 80C:

    • Deductions of up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs p.a. from income on premiums under Section 80C of the IT Act, 1961.

    • This tax saving option helps reduce taxable income and save tax.

    Tax-Free Death Benefit Under Section 10 (10D):

    • Death benefit received is tax-free.

    • If you surrender your ULIP before 5 years, the death benefit will be subject to tax.

    Tax-Free Maturity Benefit Under Section 10 (10D):

    • Maturity benefit tax-free if total premiums don't exceed Rs. 2.5 lakhs.

    • Surrendering before 5 years makes maturity returns taxable.

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  2. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY)

    The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) is a savings scheme launched by the Government of India. This tax saving investment option aims to promote the welfare of the girl child and encourage parents to save for their daughter's future expenses like education and marriage. It was launched as a small deposit scheme as part of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' campaign. However, a significant percentage of salaried people, too, consider this as one of the tax- saving investments in their portfolio.

    Tax Benefits Under Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana:

    Tax Deductions Under Section 80C:

    • Deduction of up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs yearly on investment in  SSY tax saving options.

    • Tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961

    Exemption From Interest Income Under Section 10 (1D):

    • Interest earned on SSY investments is tax-free.

    • These benefits under Section 10(10D) of the Income Tax Act, 1961

    Read More
  3. Public Provident Fund (PPF)

    The Public Provident Fund (PPF) is a long-term tax saving investment scheme offered by the Government of India. It is a tax- saving option that comes with a 15-year lock-in period. PPF subscribers can invest up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs in a financial year.

    Tax Benefits under the Public Provident Fund:

    EEE Category Tax Exemptions:

    • Public Provident Fund comes under the Exempt-Exempt-Exempt (EEE) category

    • The investment, interest earned, and maturity amount from this tax saving option is exempt from tax.

    Section 80C Deductions:

    • Entire amount invested in PPF is eligible for a deduction under Section 80C.

    • Maximum deduction allowed is Rs. 1.5 lakhs per financial year

    Exemption on Earned Interest:

    • The interest earned on PPF income tax saving option is also exempt from tax

    • The interest is compounded annually and credited to the PPF account at the end of each financial year 

    Tax Exemption on Maturity Proceeds:

    • Maturity proceeds of PPF, including principal and interest, are fully exempt from income tax.

    • No tax on withdrawals after the 15-year lock-in period.

    Exemption From Wealth Tax:

    • Balance in your PPF account is not considered for wealth tax calculation.

    • No liability for wealth tax on PPF investments.

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  4. Employee Provident Fund (EPF)

    The Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is a government-backed savings scheme in India that aims to provide retirement benefits to employees. The EPF is one of the best tax- saving investments that offers several benefits to both employees and employers.

    Tax Benefits Under Employee Provident Fund:

    Tax Exemption on Employee Contributions:

    • Employee contributions are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80C of Income Tax Act, 1961

    • Maximum deduction up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs per year

    Exempt, Exempt, Exempt (EEE) Category:

    • Interest earned on EPF contributions is tax-free

    • No tax on interest earned from this tax saving option

    Tax-free Withdrawal:

    • The EPF fund is available after 5 years of service

    • Withdrawal amount tax-free after completing 5 years of service

    • Withdrawal before 5 years is subject to taxation

    Tax Benefits on Employer Contribution:

    • Employers are required to contribute to the employee’s EPF account. 

    • Employer's contribution in this tax saving investment is not taxable for the employee. 

    Read More

    People also read: Tax saver fixed deposit

  5. Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)

    The Senior Citizen Savings Scheme is a savings investment option launched by the Government of India. It offers senior citizens a safe and profitable investment option with attractive interest rates. The below-mentioned tax benefits of SCSS income tax saving options are only available to senior citizens (60 years old and above).

    Tax Benefits Under Senior Citizen Savings Scheme:

    Tax Deduction Under Section 80C:

    • SCSS principal deposits eligible for up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs annual deduction.

    • Benefit listed under Section 80C investment options

    Exemption from TDS:

    • No TDS is deducted if SCSS interest is Rs. 50,000 or less

    • TDS is deducted if interest exceeds Rs. 50,000

    No Tax on Maturity Amount:

    Read More
  6. National Pension Scheme (NPS)

    The National Pension System (NPS) is a government-sponsored pension scheme that offers several tax benefits to encourage you to plan and save for your retirement. NPS is also widely used as one of the major tax- saving investments in India.

    Tax Benefits Under National Pension Scheme:

    Tax Deduction on Contributions Under Section 80C:

    • NPS contributions are eligible for deductions of up to 10% of salary under Section 80 CCD(1).

    • Deduction benefits within the overall ceiling of Rs. 1.5 lakhs under Section 80CCE.

    Additional Tax Deduction on Voluntary Contributions Under Section 80 CCD(1B):

    • Up to Rs. 50,000 deduction on voluntary NPS contributions under Section 80 CCD(1B).

    • This benefit is in addition to the above deductions under Section 80CCD(1)

    Tax Exemption on Employer's Contribution Under Section 80 CCD(2):

    • Employer's NPS contribution is tax-exempted under Section 80 CCD(2).

    • Deduction on contributions by the employer up to a certain limit under the Income Tax Act, 1961.

    Tax Exemption on Partial Withdrawal:

    • Up to 25% corpus withdrawal is allowed after 60 months

    • This amount of NPS tax saving investment is exempt from tax

    Tax Exemption on Lump Sum Withdrawal:

    • Up to 60% lump sum withdrawal on retirement is tax - exempted.

    • Remaining 40% is used to purchase annuities for regular income.

    NOTE:

    • The tax benefits are only available for contributions made to NPS Tier I account tax saving options

    • Contributions made to NPS Tier II accounts are not eligible for tax benefits

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    Invest & Save upto ₹46,800 per annum in taxInvest & Save upto ₹46,800 per annum in tax
  7. National Savings Certificate (NSC)

    The National Savings Certificate is a safe investment option that offers tax benefits. It is a good option for investors who are looking for a long-term investment with guaranteed returns.

    Tax Benefits Under National Savings Certificate:

    Tax Deduction Under Section 80C:

    • Investment in NSC qualifies for a deduction under Section 80C.

    • The maximum limit for this Section 80C investment option is Rs. 1.5 lakhs in a financial year 

    Tax Saving on Accrued Interest:

    • Interest earned on NSC investment is tax-free for the first 4 years.

    • Interest earned is considered reinvested and qualifies for Section 80C deduction.

    • After 4 years, interest earned is taxable according to your income tax slab.

    Tax Benefits for TDS on Interest Earned:

    • Interest from the NSC scheme is taxable, but no TDS is deducted at source.

    • You are responsible for declaring interest earned and paying taxes while filing your Income Tax Return (ITR)

    Read More
  8. Tax-Saver Fixed Deposit Scheme

    Tax-Saver Fixed Deposits (FDs) are a type of fixed deposit scheme offered by banks in India that come with tax benefits under the Income Tax Act, 1961. These income tax saving options have a lock-in period of 5 years, during which the deposited amount cannot be withdrawn.

    Tax Benefits Under Tax-Saver Fixed Deposit (5-Year FDs):

    Tax Deduction Under Section 80C:

    • Invested amount in Tax-Saver FDs qualifies for a tax deduction up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs annually.

    • Tax benefit available under Section 80C of Income Tax Act.

    • Available to individual taxpayers and Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs).

    • The deduction is applicable in the year of investment in these tax saving options.

    Exempted Interest:

    • The interest earned on Tax-Saver FDs is taxable based on individual's income tax slab rates.

    • The interest income is exempted from Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) up to Rs. 40,000 per financial year (Rs. 50,000 for resident senior citizens).

    Taxation on Maturity:

    • Maturity proceeds, including principal and interest, are taxable in the year of maturity.

    • Interest income added to an individual's total income and taxed at applicable income tax rates.

    • No TDS deducted from the maturity amount under these schemes.

    Read More
  9. Equity-Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) Mutual Fund

    ELSS Mutual Funds is a type of mutual fund that invests in equity and equity-linked securities. It provides you with the potential for capital appreciation along with tax- saving investments.

    Tax Benefits Under Equity Linked Savings Scheme:

    Tax Deduction Benefits under Section 80C:

    • Claim a deduction of Rs. 1.5 lakhs yearly from your taxable income by investing in ELSS.

    • Deductions available under Section 80C of the IT Act, 1961.

    Lock-in Period:

    • ELSS funds have a mandatory 3-year lock-in period.

    • During this period, the invested amount cannot be redeemed.

    • Returns are not subject to lock-in.

    Long-term Capital Gains Tax:

    • Gains from ELSS after the 3-year lock-in are treated as LTCG.

    • LTCG on ELSS taxed at 10%.

    • LTCG above Rs. 1 lakh per year subject to taxation.

    Long-term capital gain (LTCG) Taxable Amount Tax Rate
    Up to Rs 1 lakh Nil Nil
    Above Rs 1 lakh 10% -

    Tax-free Dividends:

    • Dividends taxed in investor's hands at applicable rate.

    • No dividend distribution tax by fund house.

    • Highest tax bracket (30%) pays 30% tax on dividends.

    • Reinvested dividends taxed upon unit sale.d

    Systematic Investment Plan (SIP):

    • ELSS allows investing through SIPs.

    • Each SIP is considered a fresh investment with 3-year lock-in.

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  10. Life Insurance Policy

    Life insurance policies are valuable financial tools that can provide peace of mind for your loved ones and add to your tax- saving investments. These financial instruments do not just help you insure your life but also enable you to build wealth in the long term.

    Tax Benefits From Life Insurance Policy:

    Tax Deduction Under Section 80C:

    • Available on premiums paid towards life insurance policies for self, spouse, and children.

    • Maximum deduction limit: Rs. 1.5 lakhs per financial year.

    • Applicable to both individuals and Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) taxpayers.

    • Premium should not exceed 10% of the sum assured for policies issued on or after April 1, 2012.

    Maturity Proceeds:

    • Maturity proceeds from ULIP and Capital Guarantee life insurance policies issued before April 1, 2023, are tax-free under Section 10(10D).

    • Annual premium should be below Rs. 2.5 lakhs for ULIP Plans and Rs. 5 lakhs for Traditional Guaranteed Return Plans to get tax benefits under Section 10(10D).

    • Maturity proceeds of policies issued after April 1, 2023, are taxable if annual premium exceeds Rs. 5 lakhs.

    • Taxable amount is the difference between maturity proceeds and total premiums paid.

    • Exceptions: Tax-free maturity proceeds for retirement and education policies up to certain limits.

    Death Benefit:

    • Tax-free under Section 10(10D) for nominee or beneficiary.

    • No limitations on tax exemption for death benefit, regardless of premium amount.

    • Exception: Taxability depends on the relationship if benefit received by someone other than the nominee.

    Tax Deduction for Policies on the Life of a  Differently Abled Dependent:

    • Additional tax deduction under Section 80DD for premiums paid on policies for differently abled dependents.

    • Deduction up to Rs. 75,000 for 40% or more disability, and Rs. 1.25 lakhs for 80% or more disability.

    Read More
  11. Term Insurance Plan

    Term insurance is a life insurance policy that provides coverage for a specified period, known as the term. If the insured person passes away during this period, this tax saving option pays out a death benefit to the beneficiaries. 

    Tax Benefits From Term Insurance Policy:

    Premium Deduction under Section 80C:

    • Deduction up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs on premiums paid for tax-saving investments.

    • Applicable for yourself, spouse, and dependent children.

    Tax-Free Death Benefit under Section 10(10D):

    • Nominees receive money tax-free upon the policyholder's death.

    • Applicable even if the amount exceeds Rs. 1 crore.

    Benefit on Riders:

    • Premiums for critical illness riders on tax-saving investments eligible for deductions under Section 80D (up to specific limits).

    Read More
  12. Health Insurance Plan

    Health insurance is a financial plan that helps cover medical expenses. These tax saving investments typically include services like doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs. You pay monthly premiums to maintain coverage, and in return, the insurance company helps bear the cost of your healthcare.

    Tax Benefits From Health Insurance Policy:

    Tax Deduction under Section 80D:

    • Reduces taxable income by claiming deductions on premiums paid.

    • Deduction limits:

      • Rs. 25,000 for self, spouse, and dependent children (under 60).

      • Rs. 50,000 for self/spouse (60+) or parents (any age).

    • Only premiums paid through non-cash modes are eligible.

    Preventive Health Check-up Expenses:

    • Additional Rs. 5,000 deduction for preventive health check-ups for self and family.

    • This deduction is within the overall Section 80D limit.

    Benefits on Riders:

    • Premiums for critical illness riders may qualify for further deductions under Section 80D (subject to limits).

    • Some employers offer tax-exempt health insurance coverage as part of benefits.

    Read More

Best Ways to Save Income Tax in FY 2023-24

You can save income tax in India through the following ways:

  • Invest in tax-saving instruments: Utilize investments like PPF, ELSS, NPS, tax-saving FDs, etc., to claim deductions under Section 80C (up to ₹1.5 lakh).

  • Claim deductions for medical insurance premiums: Deduct premiums paid for health insurance for yourself, spouse, dependent children, and parents (up to specified limits). 

  • Claim deductions for home loan interest (Section 24): Claim deduction for interest paid on your home loan (up to specified limits). First-time homebuyers get an additional deduction under Section 80EE.

  • Children's Tuition Fees: Deduct tuition fees paid for up to two children's full-time education (school, college, university). Fees paid for vocational courses also qualify.

  • Optimize rent & housing: Claim HRA exemption for rented accommodation and avail of interest deduction on your home loan EMI.

  • Donations & charity: Get tax benefits by donating to eligible charitable institutions or political parties.

  • Choose the right tax regime: Evaluate the old vs. new tax regime for which offers lower tax liability compared in a financial year.

Conclusion

Tax-saving investments in India play a crucial role in optimizing your financial portfolio while simultaneously reducing the tax burden. Options such as ULIP, FD, PPF, ELSS, and NSC offer effective ways to save on taxes and achieve long-term financial goals. However, it is essential to assess your financial needs, risk tolerance, and investment horizons when selecting the most suitable tax- saving instruments. Ultimately, making informed choices can lead to a more secure financial future while minimizing tax liabilities.

Tax Saving Investments - FAQs

  • Which investment instruments are tax-free?

    Some of the top tax-free investment options are:
    • Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP)

    • Child Plans

    • Pension Plans

    • Capital Guarantee Plans

    • Sukanya Samriddhi Account

    • Public Provident Fund (PPF)

    • Senior Citizens Saving Scheme

    • National Pension Scheme (NPS)

    • Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF)

  • What investments to make to save tax?

    Some of the most popular investment options to consider are as follows:
    • Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)

    • Annuity Plans

    • Child Plans

    • Capital Guarantee Plans

    • Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS)

    • Public Provident Fund (PPF)

    • Senior Citizen Saving Scheme (SCSS)

  • How can I save 100% income tax?

    There are several ways to reduce your income tax liability, such as:
    • Claiming all eligible deductions and exemptions (e.g. Section 80C, 80D, 10(10D), 80CCD (1B), 24(b), and 80TTA/ 80TTB)

    • Making investments in tax-saving investments (such as ELSS, PPF, NPS, tax-saving FDs, and ULIPs)

    • Donating to charity will help you avail tax benefits under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961)

  • Which investment is 100% tax-free?

    There is no 100% tax-free investment in India. However, there are several tax-saving options that offer various tax benefits. 

    Some of the most popular tax-free investments include:

    • Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP): ULIP is a combination of insurance and investment options that offers tax benefits on premium paid, interest earned, and maturity amount.

    • Public Provident Fund (PPF): PPF is a government-backed savings scheme that offers tax-free returns on investment and interest.

    • National Pension System (NPS): NPS is a retirement savings scheme that offers tax benefits on investments, employer contributions, and withdrawals.

    • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY): SSY is a government-backed savings scheme for girls under the age of 10. It offers tax-free returns on investment and interest.

    • Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS): SCSS is a government-backed savings scheme for senior citizens aged 60 and above. It offers tax-free returns on investment and interest.

  • What are the tax-saving investments under 80C?

    Some of the tax-saving investments available in India under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 are as follows:
    • Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIP)

    • Child Plans

    • Money Back Policies

    • Pension Plans

    • Capital Guarantee Plans

    • Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS)

    • Public Provident Fund (PPF)

    • National Pension System (NPS)

    • Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS)

    • Tax-saving fixed deposits (FDs)

  • Do I have to pay taxes on the investments?

    The taxes on the investments depend on the type of investment you are making. Here are some of the investment types wherein the taxes are levied:
    • Capital Gains: This means when you sell some of your investments at a profit, you are taxed.
    • Dividends and Other Income Types: With the profits of selling the investments, you have to pay the interest on dividends, interest, rental or other types of income that you get.
    • Tax on Interest: Even though the interest gained from various tax-saving schemes is tax-free, but there are many cases wherein you have to pay taxes on the interest you gained.
  • How many tax-free investment instruments can one have?

    There is no limit on the number of tax-free investment instruments that one can take. However, there is a limit of deduction under which one can claim the tax benefits. These limits are according to different Income Tax Act Sections.
  • How will I be able to pay less tax on higher income?

    You can save taxes by making investments in tax-free investment instruments. In this way, you will be able to pay lesser taxes on high income.
  • How much should I save for my taxes?

    You can claim a tax deduction of up to Rs.1 Lakh 50 Thousand towards the premiums that you have paid as per Section 80C of the IT Act, 1961.
  • What investments come under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act?

    The following investment instruments get tax deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961:
    • NSC
    • PPF
    • SCSS
    • Life Insurance
    • ELSS Mutual Funds
    • Pension Fund
    • 5 years Bank Fixed Deposits
    • 5 years Post Office Deposits
  • What is the maximum limit of investment under Section 80C?

    You can invest a maximum of Rs. 1,50,000 under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 from your total taxable income.
  • How can I reduce my taxes legally?

    By making investments in government-approved tax-free investment instruments, you can reduce your taxes legally.

*All savings are provided by the insurer as per the IRDAI approved insurance plan.
*Tax benefit is subject to changes in tax laws. Standard T&C Apply
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