Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS)

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Among various avenues of investments in capital market mutual funds are prominent investment options for investors across the globe. There are different types of mutual funds prevailing in the market which broadly can be classified into Equity, Debt and Balanced mutual fund. A mutual fund with certain terms and conditions like lock in period, income tax benefits etc. is known as ELSS or equity linked savings scheme.

What is ELSS?
1. Introduction to ELSS
ELSS is a type of mutual fund. Going by its name ELSS invests a majority of its corpus in equity and equity related products. An investment in ELSS comes with a lock in period and has tax benefits attached to it. It is suitable for investors having a high risk profile as returns in ELSS fluctuate depending upon the equity market and there are no fixed returns. ELSS schemes are open ended, that is, investors can subscribe to the fund at any day. NAV or the price of the fund is declared on every business day.

2. Mutual funds Vs ELSS (difference between ELSS and Mutual fund)
a.         Tax Free: - There is no ceiling for investments in ELSS however investments in ELSS qualify for tax deductions under sec 80C of the income tax act subject to a maximum of Rs 100000 in a financial year whereas investments under normal mutual fund do not qualify for income tax deductions. Any dividend received or long term capital gain earned by the investor is tax free. Long term capital gain arises on selling units of mutual fund after 1 year of purchase. Since there is a lock in period of 3 years every investor will realize long term capital gain/loss on selling their holdings
b.         Lock – In: - ELSS has a lock in period of 3 years unlike other kinds of mutual funds.

3. Options while making an investment in an ELSS
a.         Growth option – In growth option income earned by the fund is not distributed to unit holders, Investor do not earn any dividend during the time it holds the fund. Any income/profit earned by the fund increases the NAV of the fund and vice versa. Whenever the investor sells its holdings he will realize long term capital gain/loss. 

b.         Dividend option – In this option the fund distributes income earned by the fund to the investors as dividends. The date of distribution is declared by the fund, however if the fund has negative income it will not distribute any dividend. Any dividend received by the investor is not liable for tax in the hands of investors.
c.         Dividend reinvestments option – If the investors choose this option the dividends declared by the fund are reinvested. For example an investor is holding 10000 units of a fund and the fund declares dividend @ 1.5 per unit, the total dividend of 15000 (10000*1.5) will be reinvested on behalf of the investor as a fresh purchase. The investor can claim deductions to the tune of dividend received which is Rs 15000 in this case

4. Monthly investment in ELSS
Monthly investments on a pre specified date in mutual funds is possible through systematic investment plan (SIP). An investor has the option of investing monthly in equity linked savings schemes with a minimum investment of Rs 500. This type of investment is better suited to small investors who cannot invest a lump sum amount. SIP has the benefit of averaging out the cost of investors. As the amount of investment is fixed the units purchases every month varies depending upon the NAV of the fund. At a higher NAV the investor gets fewer units and more number of units at a lower price thus averaging out the cost of investors

5. Advantages of ELSS over PPF and NSC
PPF and NSC are popular tax savings instruments issued by the Government of India. Public provident fund (PPF) has a lock in period of 15 years; National savings certificate has a lock in period of 6 years in comparison to ELSS which has a lock in period of 3 years only. PPF and NSC have a fixed rate of return somewhere close to 8% to 9% whereas return in ELSS varies depending upon the market fluctuation, however past performance of some ELSS funds shows an average return of 15% to 25% over a period of time.

6. Key points to remember
A – Equity linked savings schemes is a type of mutual fund with 3 years lock in period and tax benefits attached,
B - There are three types of options in ELSS, dividend option growth option and dividend reinvestment option.
C – Tax benefits on investment in ELSS may soon be phased out with the introduction of direct tax code.
D – Investors can opt for systematic investment plan. Minimum investment required in SIP is Rs 500. An investment through SIP has a disadvantage as every monthly investment carries a lock in period.
E - If an investor chooses dividend reinvestment plan the dividend reinvested is considered as a fresh purchase and has a lock in period of 3 years from the date of purchase so the dividend reinvested is further locked for a period of 3 years.
F – ELSS has the potential to give higher returns as these funds invest in equity market which have given an average return of 15 years in a long term scenario. Returns in ELSS also fluctuate depending upon the stock selection decision of the fund manager.
G – SIP helps in averaging out the cost of investors, however if the investor backs out from SIP when the markets are falling he won’t be able to average out his cost.

How to Apply for ELSS
To apply for ELSS an investor needs to comply with KYC regulations, Know your customer (KYC) is mandatory whereby investor needs to provide some personal details like PAN no etc. KYC helps in reducing financial fraud. After complying with KYC the investor can approach to Asset management companies for subscribing to ELSS, Investor has to provide a photocopy of PAN Card along with the subscription form; the form should be filled properly and signed by the investor. The subscription form and a cheque leaf of the investment amount should be submitted with the AMC. In case of SIP (systematic investment plan) one additional form should be filled and signed by the investor. The Investor has to select a date of SIP from the options provided in the form. The Installment amount will be deducted from the investor’s bank account on that day of every month till further notice from the investor.

Criteria’s to chose ELSS  
a)         AUM – Asset under management is the amount of money the fund is managing. Higher AUM implies that the fund has many investors and has a good reputation.
b)         Past performance – If the fund is performing well in the past, it is expected that the fund will keep performing well in the future. Generally we look at the past 3 yrs 5 yrs and 10 yrs return of the fund.
c)         Sharpe ratio – Sharpe ratio is used to calculate risk factor of the fund’s portfolio. Sharpe ratio of the fund should be near 1.

1 comment :

  1. thanks for the equity saving scheme and get information of PAN Card, it is an important document by which we can pay tax so if any changes occur in your PAN Card like Pan Card Name Change so correct it and get new copy of PAN Card.