Interest rates on Fixed Deposits (FDs) have fallen from 9% p.a. mark in 2013 to around 6.5% mark in the current market. Falling rates could be very painful, especially if you fall in the 30% income tax bracket since effective interest on FDs will fall to only 4.55% p.a. after deductions. Retail inflation was close to 3.36% level in the month of August 2017. A little spike in inflation would mean negative rate of return in FDs. It could be a tricky situation for the investors to continue with the low rate FD and therefore it makes sense to explore and switch investment to other avenues such as a debt mutual fund.
The Debt Mutual Fund carries a higher risk in comparison to the FDs, but at the same time it has the potential to give you a better return in the long term.
Let us take a look at a few things that you should keep in mind while switching investment from FDs to debt fund.
Decide The Investment Tenure
When you assess option to switch investment from the fixed deposit to a mutual fund, then debt fund should be your priority scheme to park the money while overlooking investment in schemes like equity fund or gold fund.
Redemption of debt fund before 3-year period is considered as short term and tax on such short-term capital gain is taxed at the respective income tax slab rate of the individual. Redemption after 3 years is termed as long term, and long-term capital gain is taxed at a 20% rate (with indexation benefit).
If you invest for more than 3 years, then debt fund proves to be more tax efficient than FD as it also considers the inflation rate under indexation calculation that finally results in a lower tax liability. For a short duration, i.e. under 3 years also, debt fund offers good return. You can decide the duration of the investment as per your financial planning and you can also split investments into 2 or 3 parts as per short and long-term objectives. FD doesn’t allow you partial redemption, however, a debt fund allows partial redemption, and accordingly the tax is imposed on the redeemed units, so you can also keep investment in single fund and redeem amount as and when required as per your plan. However, always check the exit load to the debt fund as most fund levies exit load if the redemption is made before a certain period.
Type Of Debt Fund You Should Select
Selection of right debt fund is important when you look to switch from FD investment. Type of debt fund that you should select depends on whether you are looking to invest for less than 3-years or more than 3-years.
You can also opt for a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP) option once the correct fund is selected and you have accumulated some income from such investment. For example, if you have invested for less than 3 years, suppose 2 years, then wait for 6 months to get some income accumulated and after assessing the return you can schedule the SWP. If your fund returns at 9% p.a. rate, then you should withdraw around 5%-6% amount p.a. so that your fund still grows after tax and the SWP. For short term investment, you can explore opportunities in Short Term Debt Fund or Ultra Short Term Debt Fund, whereas for long term investment, you can explore opportunities in dynamic bond fund and long term debt fund.
How To Invest In Debt Fund
The way you invest in Recurring Fixed Deposit by investing in a regular interval, similarly, you have the option to invest in debt fund through SIP mode. If you want to shift complete FD amount to debt fund, then you can opt for lumpsum investment. While exiting FD investment, you must check the penalty on early exit or the loss in interest while you switch to debt fund to figure out overall impact on the income.
It is important to note that whatever income you make on debt fund is not taxed until you decide to redeem it, however, in case of FD you need to pay tax on the accrued interest every year even if such interest continues to remain invested with the bank. If you can take a slightly higher risk in comparison to FD, debt fund could give you more flexibility in terms of liquidity and tax benefits and also allow higher return in short and long-term period.
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