Tax Treatment of various Financial Investments

As an investor you now have a plethora of investment options available, ranging from mutual funds, equities to fixed income securities like bank fixed deposits, bonds etc., Each and every investment you make has to go through three different stages i.e., i) Investment / Contribution stage, ii) Income Earning Stage & iii)Withdrawal or redemption stage.

Generally most of the investors tend to make investments based on the tax treatment or the tax benefits available at the investment stage only. However, we need to be aware of the taxation rules applicable in all the three stages.

For example: Let’s say you would like to book a 5 year Tax saving Bank Fixed Deposit. The investment in FD is eligible for tax deduction under section 80c. This is in the investment phase. Your capital earns ‘interest income’ for the next 5 years. This is taxable. When you redeem the FD on maturity, the withdrawal is tax-free given that tax is paid at the ‘growth or income earning stage’ itself.

If you are aware of the tax implications at various investment stages, you can pick tax-efficient investment options. Tax efficiency is a measure of how much of an investment’s return is left over after taxes are paid. Tax efficiency is essential in order to maximize net returns on our investments. You need to consider the net tax adjusted returns and not just gross returns from your investments.

However, the tax benefits should not be the main criteria for short-listing an investment option. They should be incidental and not the core.

For example : You need to buy a Term insurance plan if you need adequate life cover, not because you get Tax exemption under section 80C.

Investment Stages & Tax Treatment

As discussed above, an investment goes through three different stages;

  • Investment (or) Contribution stage
  • Earnings (or) Growth (or) Accumulation stage &
  • Withdrawal (or) Redemption (or) Maturity stage

And in each stage the investments/earnings can either be Taxed (T) or Exempted (E) from the taxes. So, we can have 6 possible combinations of Es & Ts for three different stages as below;

  1. EEE : Exempt –> Exempt –> Exempt (meaning you can avail tax deductions at the time of investment, the income earned on this investment is tax exempted & even the maturity amount is tax-free)
  2. EET : Exempt –> Exempt –> Tax
  3. ETE : Exempt –> Tax -> Exempt
  4. TEE : Tax –> Exempt – > Exempt
  5. TET : Tax –> Exempt -> Tax
  6. TTE : Tax –> Tax -> Exempt

How are your investments taxed?

Let’s now pick various investment options and arrange them as per the above taxation regimes.

Tax Treatment Asset classes investment options EPF PPF NPS ELSS Debt Funds Life Insurance Stocks pics


(NPS withdrawals will fall under EEE category w.e.f April, 2019)
  • EEE : Under this regime, taxes are not applicable in all the three investment stages. You get tax deduction at the time of investment, the income earned on the capital is tax-free and the withdrawal is also tax free. EEE can be the most preferred choice while short listing your investment options. Some of the investment avenues which have EEE model are;
    • Employees Provident Fund.
      • Latest clarification on Interest earned on EPF : If an employee who is a member ofEPFscheme, quits or retires from his employment and continues holding the accumulated PF balance, he/she has to pay tax on interest from the date of unemployment. So, the interest on EPF is tax-exempt only when the member is employed and the Interest credited to an employee provident fund (EPF) account after an individual ceases to be in employment is taxable in his/her hands in the year of credit.Interest that has been accrued post employment is taxable. This is as per the recent order by Income tax appellate Tribunal. (Updated on : 20-Nov-2017)
    • Public Provident Fund
    • Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme
    • Life Insurance Policies (if your objective is to get adequate life cover, opt for Term insurance only. Other traditional plans like money-back/endowment can give you very low returns)
    • Retirement Plans offered by Mutual Fund houses
    • ULIPs (Unit Linked Insurance Plans)
    • NPS becomes an EEE investment w.e.f 1st April, 2019 (Latest Update : Dec 2018).
  • EET : The tax treatment under this model is, you can claim tax deduction at the time of investment and the earnings is tax-free, but withdrawals at the time of maturity are taxed. So,under EET, the taxation is deferred till the time of withdrawal. Most of the pension plans fall under this category.
    • Unit Linked Pension Plans
    • ELSS Tax Saving Mutual Funds (The LTCG on shares & Equity funds is taxable @ 10% from FY 2018-19)
    • Annuity based Pension plans
    • NPS (National Pension System) (Latest update Budget 2016 : The 40% of the corpus that an investor can withdraw on maturity is proposed to be made tax free. The remaining 60% of the NPS corpus has to be used to buy an annuity product. Note that monthly pension (annuity income) is fully taxable.)
  • ETE : Under this arrangement, tax benefits are available at the time of investment but earnings are taxed. The withdrawal at the time of maturity is tax-exempt given that taxes are paid at the growth/earnings stage itself.
    • 5 Year Tax Saving Fixed Deposits
    • NSCs (National Saving Certificates)
    • Sr.CSS (Senior Citizen Saving Scheme)
  • TEE : At the time of investment no tax benefits are available and you invest your tax adjusted income. However the earnings and withdrawal can be tax-free.
    • Tax Free Bonds (Interest income is tax-free and bonds if held till maturity, no taxes are applicable)
  • TET : Under this model, earnings during the growth stage are tax exempted.
    • Debt oriented Hybrid Mutual Funds
    • Stocks
    • Equity oriented Mutual Funds (The LTCG on shares & Equity funds is taxable @ 10% from FY 2018-19)
    • Balanced or Hybrid Equity funds (No tax on capital gains on stocks/equity funds if held of more than a year)
    • Debt Mutual Funds
    • Monthly Income Plans of MFs
    • Fixed Maturity Plans of MFs (FMPs)
    • Debentures (Interest earned through NCDs, if held until maturity, is clubbed with your income and taxed at your marginal income tax rate)
  • TTE : This is possibly the lest tax-efficient model of all. There is no tax deduction offered at the time of investment and earnings are fully taxable. With income taxed every year, there are no tax implications at maturity. Unfortunately, a major portion of Indian Households’ savings are invested in the financial products which fall under this category. These investment options are not only less tax-efficient but can also erode your wealth if invested for long-term.
    • Fixed Deposits
    • Recurring Deposits (RDs)
    • Post office Monthly Income Scheme
    • Tax Saving Bonds

You should invest in financial products based on your financial goals. If an investment option meets your requirements and is also a tax efficient one then it is well and good. Your investment strategy is to max out your after-tax returns.

But, do not invest in a financial product just to save some TAXES. The cost of buying wrong financial products may outweigh the cost of taxes. Tax Planning is not a goal but a tool. Remember “Tax Planning aloneis not Financial Planning.”

Continue reading :

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

  • Balaji RM says:

    Good job Mr.Sreekanth. Congrats. Really useful and simple. Keep doing.

  • Jai says:

    What is the tax implication on maturity of 5 year tax saving FD from SBI taken in april 24 2014? It grew from 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh
    the bank is not able to tell me whether TDS has been taken. will I know only after the 26 a form is sent by the bank

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Hi Shreekanth,

    Thanks for this brilliant explanation.
    I have a little confusion.
    It is regarding ELSS mutual funds. You have kept it in EEE category in the image, but when you are explaining the different categories later then ELSS is mentioned under EET category.
    Could you please clear this?
    Also, when ELSS is taxed, only the returns are taxed or the full amount (principal + return)?

    Thanks in advance.
    Keep up the good work!

  • VIPAN KUMAR VERMA says:

    I retired on attaining the age of 60 years on 31st august 2018 what tax exemption on medical treatment ,I can get for for medical treatment of self (sr.Citizen) ,spouse, children who are major one. How much I can get maximum rebate/exemption u/s 80d ,my department deducted one month salary + da ,in 36 installments +balance from last pay or earned leave encasement or any other payments under medical health scheme for post retirement medical from selected hospitals for self spouse & dependents . All amount deducted during assessment year 2018-19 will be deducted under what act of income tax.
    Kindly advise me.

  • Satish says:

    Query : If I take Term insurance on my parents name :- Mom is 57years old and Dad is 63years old.

    This commodity – Term insurance comes under 80C or 80D ? FIRST OF ALL ARE THEY ELIGIBLE TO TAKE TERM INSURANCE ? My taxable amount is above 10L;-)…Can’t incur more taxes !

    Kindly let me know ?

  • RANJEET KUMAR SAHOO says:

    Sir,my question is”I have invested 60000 on NSC and after 5 year it’s maturity amount will be 88000.according to you the interest decided on yearly basis and add to my income every fy and deduct accordingly.

    • Dear Ranjeet,
      As this Interest is re-invested in National Savings Certificate which is a specified instrument u/s 80C, a taxpayer can claim this amount of interest as a tax deduction under Section 80C. So, the taxpayer will first have to show this interest earned as an income and then claim this as a deduction under Section 80C.

  • prem says:

    I though ULIP falls under EEE, are you sure it is EET

  • Priyangshu says:

    Beautiful written very informative article. Will u please explain the tax deductions in case of NSCs and RDs and PO monthly income schemes with the help of examples.

  • Amit Sharma says:

    Hi, very informative article.
    I am 28 years old and I am searching for good investment options. I just came to know about peer to peer lending as an emerging platform in India and wanted your views on that.

  • Sandeep says:

    Hello Srikanth,

    Is EPF+VPF still a EEE product?

    I am hearing a lot of rumors about it. Please clarify.

    Thanks,
    Sandeep

  • GS Dhillon says:

    Dear Sreekanth

    your blog is quite educative.

    1.Please quote an example each for EEE,EET,ETE,TEE.TET,TTE with its tax u/s and tax computation, including short/long term capital gains.
    2.Also elucidate the difference in Tax Free Bond ( under TEE) and Tax Saving Bond (under TTE), with an example alonwith its short/ long term capital gains.
    3. kindly provide your mail id and contact no for better communication.

    Thanks
    GS Dhillon
    09316525567

  • Parimal says:

    Superb Article Sree!! Really Appreciate your simple and informative style of writing blog. 🙂

  • Krishnan says:

    Hi Sreekanth

    Thanks for maintaining a great website.

    I will be getting maturity proceeds from LIC ( policy over 20 years ) , and will also be redeeming units of equity mutual funds. Since all these are exempted from tax, should I report them at all ? If yes, should it be under the head ‘Income claimed exempt from tax ‘ ?

    Thanks in advance

  • Krishna Basu says:

    Dear Sreekanth, Kindly advice best hallth insurence floter scheme Rs 10 laks (adult 2+1 children)

    Thanks. Krishna Basu

  • Deepak says:

    Hi, sreekanth,

    I wanted know that if my 10k investment is withdraw at 10.1k after 1ur completion, need to pay tax on 1k as per my slab (say 20%) say 0.2k I need to pay in itr form. Or 1k interest is interest free and no tax to be pay. I removed capital gain as it is redeemed after 1 yr

  • Bhupendra says:

    Hi Shreekanth,

    If a person (Age 59 yrs) don’t have any source of income except the interest earned on FDs (approx 1.2Lakhs/annum). Please confirm if he has to fill income tax and pay taxes ?

    Thank you !

  • Vaibhav says:

    Sir, my question is about Equity Mutual Funds. If I purchase an Equity MF in Feb 2016 for 10k, and after one year if I sell it for say 10.1k and get 10.1k in SB a/c. So for next FY 2016-17, when I file ITR what should I write in STCG and LTCG fields?

  • K Gowtham says:

    Sir i have a doubt..You generally insists on Term insurance..I feel that the traditional insurance products gives an insurance coverage even during the policy period and still if the investor is alive,he gets extra amount in form of Bonus+FAB which comes closer to 6-7% which is an excellent option for long term (>15 years) right whereas Term insurance is only till certain time or else the entire amount gets wasted..Need your advice pls..

    • Dear Gowtham,
      Term insurance is the basic form of life insurance cover. An earning member of the family has to buy an adequate life cover so that in any unfortunate event, his/her family members can continue same standard of living and also can meet future long term goals (if any).
      Term insurance plan provides risk cover during the policy period.

      If 6 to 7% makes traditional plans an excellent option to you, don’t you think investing in Provident Fund is more beneficial and a better option??
      Kindly read :
      Term insurance Vs traditional plans.
      If life is unpredictable, Insurance can’t be Optional.
      which is available at affordable premiums through Term plans.

      • gowtham says:

        Hmm i got it sir..
        1. Please write an article about Financial planner job,Mutual fund agents and Insurance agents and their Pay and commission structure..
        2. Also i have a question whether its better to insure with Private Insurance companies who gets lesser premium and lesser claim settlement ration(range of 90%) so that some money is saved which can be used for Investments..
        3. Equity Mutual funds are been given good return for a longer term in India since we had a long term bullish market..Countries like Japan and some other had longer term bearish market for 40 – 65 years..So how to take decision keeping in mind that this Long term bull market will continue??

        Looking forward for reply of all 3 questions above..Thanks in advance..

        • Dear gowtham,
          1 – By any chance are you an Advisor? Will surely try to write on the suggested topic.
          2 – Some of the pvt life insurance companies do have very good claim settlement track record and they offer term plans at very competitive premium rates.
          Kindly read: Latest Claim Settlement Ratio of Life insurance companies. One can buy a Term plan depending on the affordability and his requirements from any life insurance company.
          3 – Situation like Japan can not be ruled out in equity markets. No one can predict the future. But do note that ‘not taking sufficient RISK itself is the biggest risk of all’. One needs to invest in all possible asset classes based on his/her financial goals.
          Our markets too had ‘bear phases’ in the last two decades, but still they could generate decent returns right?? Kindly share your views.

  • nithin says:

    Excellent Article.

  • saravanakumar says:

    Excellent and simple explanation, about Tax treatment…

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