Friday, May 19, 2017

Bank Fixed Deposits vs Debt Mutual Funds

For most of us, our search for debt investments begins and ends at bank fixed deposits. When we have idle money in our bank, we invest the excess amount in fixed deposits. Bank fixed deposits are easy to understand. You simply need to walk into nearest bank branch to invest. Moreover, with net banking becoming more and more popular, opening a fixed deposit is merely a click away for a number of us.
Returns are fixed and guaranteed. You don’t really need to worry about whether banks can default. You believe that Reserve Bank of India, the banking regulator, will take pro-active steps or in the worst case, the Government will come to your rescue.
Hence, it is no surprise that a number of investors don’t look beyond fixed deposits for their debt investments.
Of late, you would have read a lot about how debt mutual funds can present a credible alternative to bank fixed deposits. Some argue, and correctly so, that the debt mutual funds are more tax-efficient than fixed deposits. Others counter that the returns from debt mutual funds are not fixed, face credit risk and thus your money might be at risk.
In this post, I will compare tax treatment of fixed deposits and debt mutual funds with the help of illustrations. I will compare fixed deposits and debt MF schemes on a few other parameters too.
Please understand I am referring to only bank fixed deposits. I advise readers to stay away corporate fixed deposits and fixed deposits from small co-operative banks.

Tax Treatment of Fixed Deposits and Debt Mutual Funds

This is an area where debt mutual funds score over fixed deposits.
Interest on fixed deposits is taxed at your marginal income tax rate. For example, if you make a fixed deposit of Rs 1 lac at 8% for 5 years, you will earn Rs 8,000 as annual interest.
You will have to pay tax on this interest income at your marginal income tax rate. If you fall in the highest income tax bracket, you will have to pay income tax of Rs 2,400 on this income (30% of Rs 8,000). I have ignored surcharge and cess.
On the other hand, in case of debt mutual funds, the tax liability arises only at the time of sale of mutual fund units. So, if you purchase debt MF units today, you won’t have to pay any tax till such time you sell those units. It does not matter how long you hold those units.
If holding period for debt mutual fund units (at the time of sale)  is less than or equal to 3 years, the resulting capital gains shall be treated as short term capital gains and taxed at the marginal income tax rate (income tax slab).
However, if the holding period is greater than 3 years, the resulting capital gains shall be treated as long term capital gains and taxed at 20% after accounting for indexation.

Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) for Bank Fixed Deposits

A bank is required to deduct TDS (Tax deducted at source) if the interest paid during the financial year exceeds Rs 10,000 across all its branches. TDS is the tax deducted upfront by the bank (from the interest) and deposited with the Government.
So, if your annual interest from fixed deposits (from a particular bank) is Rs 8,000, there is no TDS applicable. However, if the annual interest is Rs 13,000, the bank will deduct TDS at 10% i.e. Rs 1,300. I have not considered cess and surcharge.
If you have furnished PAN with the bank, TDS will be deducted at 10%. Otherwise, the bank will deduct TDS at 20%. Please understand TDS has no relation to your marginal income tax rate (income tax slab).

Friday, May 12, 2017

5 Financial Lessons From Baahubali's Blockbuster Success

From being patient to never letting emotions cloud one's judgement, Bahubali carries many important lessons for investors.

Like Baahubali, one must be ready to play the waiting game when investing.

In less than two weeks, the worldwide box office collections of 'Baahubali 2: The Conclusion' has surpassed the Rs 1,000 crore mark, making it by far the most successful movie in Indian history. The movie directed by SS Rajamouli, has been released in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam in over 6,500 screens across India, and in 9,000 plus screens worldwide.

While Rajmouli’s magnum opus continues its dream run at the box office, the story about a young prince (Baahubali) who lets go of short-term gains as a matter of principle has an important lesson for traders and investors.

Here are some important financial lessons from Baahubali that every investor can use:

Playing The Waiting Game
Baahubali forfeits his right to the throne but never loses sight of the kingdom. It took two generations to finally gain the kingdom. Similarly in the field of investing, the waiting game eventually pays off, Spend Big To Earn Big.

Baahubali pays a huge price throughout his life. He forfeits the throne. He also gives up a life of luxury to live among the commoners. Eventually, he also gives up his own life. While investing the same principles hold true as Most of us tend to trade and invest without understanding the actual costs and the opportunity costs. We hold on to our investments for a long time and get out at the wrong time.

Greed At The Wrong Time Can Be Your Undoing
Baahubali’s brother succumbs to greed and that eventually proves to be his undoing. Baahubali, on the other hand, was greedy at the right time. Similarly, in the investment arena you need to know when to be greedy and when to be fearful. Greed at the bottom of the investing cycle and fear at the top is positive. The reverse can be disastrous for you.You Don’t Need Superstars
Baahubali proved that you do not need big stars to create a blockbuster movie. That is true of your portfolio too. You need star potential; not just superstars in your investment portfolio.

Never Let Emotions Cloud Your Judgement
This was the underlying theme of Baahubali; the character. Whether he was confronted by his affection towards his mother or his commitment towards his wife, Baahubali never allowed emotion to get the better of his judgement. Emotions are your biggest enemy while investing, You normally tend to follow the herd mentality and you tend to get swept away by emotions. Like Baahubali, your investment decisions must be driven by cold logic and incisive analysis.