Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is it worth investing in tax-saving bonds?

To reap the benefits of high interest rates prevailing in the market, many investors have been booking profits in the stock market and parking the proceeds in bank fixed deposits (FD). But the interest received from bank FDs is taxable. It is that time of year when advance taxes need to be paid. Shouldn’t investors be looking at saving taxes by investing in infrastructure bonds and tax-saving bonds?

In this month’s guest post, Nishit explains the basic difference between infrastructure bonds and tax-saving bonds, and recommends that investment in tax-savings bonds is definitely worth considering seriously.


Tax-saving bonds are the flavour of the month. Let us try and ascertain if they are worth buying. Earlier in the year, Infrastructure Bonds were introduced. Some of those bond issues are still open. How are the current tax-saving bonds different from the Infrastructure Bonds?

For starters, to avail tax breaks in the infra bonds, the limit up to which one could invest was Rs 20,000. This Rs 20,000 would be deducted from your taxable income for the year. This would save about Rs 6,180 in the highest tax bracket. The interests from these bonds are not tax free and would be added to one’s taxable income in subsequent years. The interest rates offered were in the rage of 8-8.25% per annum.

The tax-savings bonds being offered now are of a different type. In these bonds, a retail investor can invest Rs 1 lakh for a period of 10-15 years. These bonds are offered by various government undertakings like REC, NHAI, PFC and are hence safe investments. The bonds offer tax free returns as the interest is not taxable. The interest rates are about 7.93% to 8.32%. This means if Rs 1 lakh is invested, then upto Rs 8,130 interest which one gets annually is not taxed. Over a period of 10 years, this amounts Rs 81,300 which is not taxed. To get equivalent returns from a taxable bank FD, the interest rate one should get is about 11.5%. There is no bank FD which falls under the ‘safe category’ offering such returns.

The REC issue is due to get closed on the 12th of March, 2012 and one can definitely look at further similar issues hitting the markets. The benefit of such issues over the infrastructure bonds is that one can save a much larger amount of tax.

Details of REC issue as below:

There is another tax free bond in the market! REC or Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd. is going to raise Rs 3,000 Crore by selling tax free secured redeemable non-convertible bonds . The subscription will open on March 6 and close on March 12 , 2012. While it is being sold that the interest on the bond will be tax free, it is important that subscribers should know other aspect of this tax free bond issue.

Credit Rating : “CRISIL AAA/Stable” by CRISIL, “CARE AAA” by CARE, “ICRA AAA” by ICRA & “Fitch AAA (Ind)” by FITCH.

The Company has confirmed the following interest rates:

Tenure of the bonds

Other than Category III investors (i.e. QIBs & Corporates and Individuals/HUFs investing > 1,00,000)

Category III investors (Individuals and/or HUF investing upto Rs. 1,00,000/- in the issue)

10 years



15 years



Individual/HUF limit reduced due to a notification dated February 14 issued by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) clearing the issue has said that “any individual investing over Rs 1 lakh will be classified as high net worth individual (HNIs)”.

  • Bucket size: The issue size would be Rs. 3000 Crores (shelf limit)
  • Minimum Application: Rs 5000/-(5 Bonds of Rs 1000/-) and in multiple of Rs 1000/-
  • Issuance Mode - Demat only
  • Listing at BSE only
  • Interest Payment – Annually
  • Allotment on first come first served basis.
  • Interest on the refund money will be at rate of 5% p.a.

Category of investors

Bucket size

Category I (includes QIBs and Corporate)

50%( 1500 Cr)

Category II (Individuals/HUFs investing > 1,00,000)

25% (750 Cr)

Category III (Individuals/HUFs investing < 1,00,000)

25% (750 Cr)

Tax Benefits:

  1. The income by way of interest on these Bonds shall not form part of total income as per provisions under section 10(15)(iv)(h) of I.T. Act, 1961;
  2. There shall be no deduction of tax at source from the interest, which accrues to the bondholders;
  3. As per provisions under section 2 (29A) of the I.T. Act, read with section 2 (42A) of the I.T. Act, a listed Bond is treated as a long term capital asset if the same is held for more than 12 months immediately preceding the date of its transfer. Under section 112 of the I.T. Act, capital gains arising on the transfer of long term capital assets being listed securities are subject to tax at the rate of 20% of capital gains calculated after reducing indexed cost of acquisition or 10% of capital gains without indexation of the cost of acquisition;
  4. Wealth Tax is not levied on investment in Bond under section 2(ea) of the Wealth-tax Act, 1957.

Note: The investment limit for Category III investors has been increased from Rs 1 Lakh to Rs 5 Lakhs.


(Nishit Vadhavkar is a Quality Manager working at an IT MNC. Deciphering economics, equity markets and piercing the jargon to make it understandable to all is his passion. "We work hard for our money, our money should work even harder for us" is his motto.

Nishit blogs at Money Manthan.)


Din said...

is it wise to invest in
nabard which gives rural bonds at 8.75% or post office scheme which gives 8.5% to a bank which gives fixed deposit at 9.75 % ????????

Subhankar said...

Depends on which tax bracket your income falls.

Interest on PO and bank fixed deposits are taxable. Interest on NABARD (and other) tax saving bonds are tax free - but the holding period is longer.