ELSS vs ULIP: Choosing the Right Tax-Saving Investment for You

When it comes to tax-efficient investment instruments, ELSS and ULIP are two of the popular options. Both Equity-Linked Saving Schemes and Unit-Linked Insurance Plans offer dual benefits of investment and tax deductions.

However, both products cater to different financial goals. Let’s break down the key features of ELSS and ULIP to help you choose the right tax-saving instrument.

Equity-Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS) is a type of mutual fund that invests at least 80% of the total assets in equity or equity-related instruments. With 3 years of lock-in period. These funds offer tax deductions of up to INR. 1,50,000 under section 80C of the IT Act.

Unit-Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) is a combination of investment and insurance. Part of your premium goes towards investment and the other part towards insurance. ULIP investments can be either equity-oriented, debt-oriented, or both (balanced funds). You can choose the ULIP investment type based on your financial preferences and risk appetite. With a 5-year lock-in period, the ULIP premium also offers a tax deduction of up to INR. 1,50,000 under section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

ULIP offers life insurance along with an opportunity to grow your money in the market. ELSS, on the other hand, does not offer insurance benefits. ELSS funds and the investment portion of ULIPs are market-linked. Therefore, you get to invest and grow your money in a fund of your choice for the long term.

ELSS mutual funds only have a 3-year lock-in period. It is the shortest among all the tax-saving instruments eligible under section 80C of the IT Act. Please note that if you’re investing in ELSS via SIP, each installment will carry its own lock-in period. You can withdraw the installments that have completed the lock-in.

ULIP, on the other hand, has a 5-year lock-in period, making it less liquid than ELSS.

ULIP allows you to change your investment strategy by switching between ULIP funds. That way, you can realign your investment strategy with your current financial goals.

Since ELSS is a mutual fund, switching strategy is not an option. However, you can redeem the funds after 3 years and invest in a different ELSS fund as per your preferences.

Being equity-oriented, returns on ELSS funds often outperform returns on other tax-saving instruments. These funds are subject to market fluctuations, however, you can expect decent growth in three years of the lock-in period.

In the case of ULIP, part of your investment goes towards life insurance. Therefore, you only get returns on the remaining amount invested in the market. The associated risk depends upon the scheme strategy that you choose.

The overall returns on ELSS and ULIP depend upon the performance of the underlying assets.

ELSS, like any other fund, has charges such as exit load, and expense ratio. Charges on ELSS funds are lower compared to ULIP.

ULIP schemes involve charges such as premium allocation charges, policy administration charges, mortality charges, fund management charges, and surrender charges.

While ELSS charges are always written in the factsheet, ULIP charges may not be as transparent. It is always advised to review the charges behind any investment instrument to understand the cost of investment and how it’ll affect overall returns.

Both schemes offer tax deductions of up to INR. 1,50,000 under section 80C of the IT Act. ULIP additionally offers tax exemption on the return under section 10(10D) of the IT Act.

Redeeming ELSS mutual funds after 3 years of lock-in period attracts Long-term capital gain tax of 10% above INR 1 lakhs.

FeaturesELSSULIP
Investment ObjectiveEquity orientedInsurance + Investment (Equity, or debt, or both)
Lock-In Period3 years5 Years
Flexibility to Switch StrategyNot AvailableAvailable
Return on InvestmentDepends on the performance of the underlying assets, usually more than ULIP as the entire money goes towards equity investments. Depends on the performance of the underlying assets, usually less than ELSS as the portion of the investment goes towards life cover.
ChargesExit load and expense ratio are applicable. Transparent Charges. Premium allocation charges, policy administration charges, mortality charges, fund management charges, and surrender charges are applicable. Lack of transparency in charges.
Tax BenefitsTax deduction of INR. 1,50,000 under section 80C of the IT Act. Tax deduction of INR. 1,50,000 under section 80C of the IT Act. Tax-free return upon maturity under section 10(10D) of the IT Act.

ELSS mutual funds are ideal for investors seeking tax deductions and have moderate to high-risk appetite. These funds invest predominantly in equity instruments. Therefore, the risk could be comparatively higher, but the returns would be superior.

ULIP is ideal for investors who, apart from tax deductions and wealth creation, also want life cover. ULIP scheme divides your investment into life insurance and market investments. You need to factor in the various costs associated with the ULIP before investing

Ultimately, the choice is yours based on your financial goals.

You can always reach out to experts at VNN Wealth for more information. Book your appointment today!

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