Income Tax Provisions for Mutual Fund Investments

Published On: 15-Jun-2020

While creating an investment portfolio, the investors must know the tax incidence of different investments so that the investors may make the required tax compliances. It is usually advised to compare the investments in terms of post-tax returns, instead of absolute returns. This article aims to discuss the income tax rules for mutual fund investments. 

Point of Taxation for Mutual Fund Investments

The investors must pay tax on mutual fund investments once they redeem the investments and realise the profits. Further, a switch transaction is considered equivalent of a redemption transaction and as such, the investors are required to pay taxes on the gains from the mutual fund units switched out. 

Classification of Mutual Funds for Taxation Purposes 

Income-tax Rules require that the mutual fund schemes are classified into two categories – equity-oriented mutual funds and other than-equity oriented mutual fund schemes. Equity-oriented mutual fund schemes are such mutual fund schemes that invest at least 65% or more of their net assets in listed equity securities of domestic companies. All other mutual fund schemes may be classified in the other category of other than equity oriented mutual fund schemes, including debt funds, gold funds, etc.

The categorisation of Capital Gains from Mutual Funds

On realisation of the capital appreciation in the mutual fund schemes, it is taxed as ‘Income from Capital Gains,’ which may be categorised into STCG (Short Term Capital Gains) and LTCG (Long Term Capital Gains) based on the holding period of such mutual fund investments by the investors. As such, if the investor has held the investments in equity-oriented funds for 12 months or less than that, the gains from such investments will be classified as STCG, and for mutual fund investments with more extended investment period, gains will be classified as LTCG. 

Such a period for classification of gains from other than equity oriented mutual fund schemes is more than 36 months. Thus, returns from other than equity-oriented mutual funds with an investment period of 36 months or less are classified as STCG, while such gains may be classified as LTCG for the more extended holding period. 

Tax Rates for Capital Gains from Mutual Fund Investments

The investors are liable to pay tax as per the rates below:

1. Equity Oriented Mutual Funds

STCG from equity-oriented mutual fund schemes are taxed at 15% (plus applicable surcharge and cess). On the other hand, LTCG is taxed at 10% (plus applicable surcharge and cess) for gains exceeding Rs. 1 lakh a financial year in respect of LTCG from equity shares and equity-oriented mutual funds, taken together. Further, no indexation benefit is allowed in respect of LTCG as per the new income tax rules. As such, the capital gains may be directly computed by deducting the invested amount from the redemption value. Redemption/Switch of equity-oriented schemes are also subject to Securities Transaction Tax.

Other than Equity Oriented Mutual Funds – The investors are liable to pay income tax at the regular tax rates as applicable to them in respect of STCG from other than equity oriented mutual funds. LTCG from such funds for resident investors is liable for tax at 20% (plus applicable surcharge and cess) along with the benefit of indexation to the investors. Thus, while STCG is calculated by deducting the cost of investment from the redemption value, LTCG is calculated by deducting the indexed cost of investment amount from the redemption value instead of the actual amount invested. This may help the investors effectively lower the tax incidence even below the applicable tax rate of 20%. For non-resident investors, long term capital gain on transfer of listed units is taxable @20% and 10% on unlisted units if the non-resident is not a company or a foreign company and without applying the indexation provisions. DTAA provisions may also be applicable for non-resident investors.

2. Taxation of Dividend 

While the dividend distributed was subject to deduction Income/Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) by the concerned mutual fund, the dividend income was exempt in the hands of the investors till the financial year 2019-20. However, pursuant to the  Finance Act 2020, from the financial year 2020-21income tax on dividend income is chargeable in the hands of investors. Pursuant to the Finance Act 2020, mutual funds are no longer liable to deduct DDT from the financial year 2020-21.  As such, the dividend income is taxable at the regular tax rates as applicable to the investor. Further, TDS provisions have also been introduced in respect of such dividend income. The investors may claim the credit of such TDS in their ITRs. 

3. Tax Benefits under Section 80C

Mutual funds also provide an opportunity for the investors to save taxes with regards to the eligible tax-saving investments under ELSS. ELSS is a particular category of mutual fund scheme which, subject to certain conditions including lock-in period for 3 years from date of investment, renders tax benefits. Contribution made by individuals and HUFs in the ELSS are eligible for deduction of the whole of the amount paid subject to a maximum of Rs. 1,50,000/- in a financial year from the total income under Section 80 C of the Income Tax Act.  This lock-in period of 3 years is amongst the lowest lock-in period available under the various tax saving options available under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. However, investors who opt under the new income tax regime under section 115BAC of the Income Tax Act, introduced by the Finance Act 2020, will not be eligible to avail the benefit of tax benefit under section 80 C of the Income Tax Act.

With the knowledge of tax provisions as applicable to the different mutual fund investments, the investors may be expected to make an informed decision in this regard. 

Note: The tax rates as mentioned in the article are for illustrative purposes only and are updated as per Finance Act 2020. The tax rates for capital gains will be as per the tax laws applicable on the date of redemption/ sale/switch and not on the date of investment. 

Disclaimers: The limited information set out above is included for general information purposes only for the investors of the UTI Mutual Fund Schemes and is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal or tax advice. In view of the individual nature of the tax consequences, each investor is strongly advised to consult his or her or their own tax consultant with respect to specific tax implications arising out of their participation in the Scheme. Income Tax benefits to the mutual fund & to the unit holder is in accordance with the prevailing tax laws/finance act 2020. Any action taken by you on the basis of the information contained herein is not intended as on offer or solicitation for the purchase and sales of any schemes of UTI mutual Fund. Please read the full details provided in SID and SIA carefully before taking any decision.

UTI AMC Ltd is not an investment adviser, and is not purporting to provide you with investment, legal or tax advice. UTI AMC Ltd or UTI Mutual Fund (acting through UTI Trustee Company Pvt. Ltd) accepts no liability and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly (including special, incidental or consequential loss or damage) from your use of this document, howsoever arising, and including any loss, damage or expense arising from, but not limited to, any defect, error, imperfection, fault, mistake or inaccuracy with this document, its contents or associated services, or due to any unavailability of the document or any part thereof or any contents or associated services.