With 2017 just a couple of days away, it’s time to start planning your finances for the year ahead. January will be a busy month for anyone looking to save tax, with most salaried professionals scrambling to get their investment proof documents for tax savings in order.
But things are a little different, this time. The recent demonetization move has introduced a new element into the mix. Idle cash held by individuals and businesses rapidly found its way back into bank coffers across the country, skewing the investment market.
Like most Indians, you might also have deposited some old notes into your bank account or you might have some idle money lying in your account.
If you’ve been wondering what to do with all this money, here are 5 great ways to invest your spare fund and save tax as you do it.
ELSS SIP for 3 Months of FY 2016-17
Three more months remain in the last quarter of FY 2016-17. This means you have the opportunity to invest into an equity-linked savings scheme (ELSS), a type of mutual fund which is eligible for tax deduction under section 80C. With an ELSS Systematic Investment Plan (SIP), you can spread your investment over the three months, minimizing the risks associated with lump-sum investments.
ELSS funds have a lock-in period of 3 years, lowest among all the eligible investment options that qualify under section 80C. They also don’t carry a fixed maturity date, so you can maintain your investment beyond the 3-year tenure.
With the economy flush with cash, interest rates for fixed deposits and other instruments are plummeting, making ELSS investments a great choice for tax savers in the current economic scenario.
Maximize your 80C Investments
Under Section 80C, you can trim as much as Rs.1.5 lakh from your taxable income. While nearly 20 types of expenses and investments are covered under 80C, our research shows that most tax payers don’t max out their savings limit here.
If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to invest your liquid cash into 80C tax savings instruments.
Your Employee Provident Fund is a good alternative to mutual funds. Consider using your extra cash to make a voluntary contribution to your EPF account, which will qualify for exemption under 80C.
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5 Year Fixed Deposit
Fixed deposits offer a higher rate of returns than savings accounts and are a safe bet for senior citizens. Although the longer lock-in period (5 years) is a deterrent, they are nevertheless a popular choice for risk-averse investors. Since 5 year FDs are also eligible for income tax exemption under 80C, parking your excess funds in these term deposits will give you a stable, long-term solution to help you save tax.
Preventive Health Check-Up
Under section 80D, individuals undergoing a preventive health check-up can claim a deduction of Rs.5000 from their taxable income. So if you’ve been putting off that visit to the doctor for too long, wait no more!
(The author is CEO & Founder, ClearTax.com)