Equity linked savings schemes (ELSS) and unit-linked insurance policies (ULIP) are long-term investment products that are aimed at providing equity returns along with tax benefits. ULIPs also offer insurance benefits along with market returns and tax advantages.
However, the investments in both ELSS and ULIP are subject to market risks as they invest a major part of their funds in equity and equity-related instruments. The aim of investing in equities is to generate higher returns in the long term. So the products are suitable for investors having a higher risk appetite and long-term financial goals, who can overlook the fluctuations in fund value due to the market turmoil in the short term.
As both the products offer tax benefits, they also have lock-in periods. While ELSS has perpetual lock-in period of three years, ULIP investors are barred from surrendering their policies before five years. Perpetual lock-in period means ELSS units purchased through each installment will remain locked for three years and will be free for redemption a day after completion of three years from the date of the installment.
ELSS: Investments in ELSS are eligible for tax deductions u/s 80C, but 10 per cent tax will be charged on long term capital gains (LTCG) over Rs 1 lakh, if the LTCG exceeds the limit on redemptions made in a financial year.
ULIP: Investments in ULIPs are eligible for tax deductions u/s 80C and the maturity fund value will also be tax free provided the sum assured (SA) of the policy is more than 10 times of the annual premium. If SA is less than 10 times of annual premium, no tax benefits will be available. However, death benefits are tax-free in the hands of nominee, even if the death occurred before completion of five years from the date of purchase of the eligible ULIP policy.
So, unlike conditional capital gain tax on ELSS, fund value of ULIP is completely tax free, subject to fulfillment of the condition that the SA should be 10 times of the annual premium.