Common risk faced by debt funds is interest rate risk with funds losing value in a rising rate scenario and vice versa. Fixed Deposits which have been locked in for long tenures also face this risk in terms of opportunity cost but there is no actual loss of value when the deposit is held to maturity.
Debt funds are highly liquid
As per the current tax rules for debt funds, the minimum tenure for long-term capital gains was extended from one to three years. This means that investors will have to remain invested for at least three years if they want the benefit of lower tax on long-term capital gains. However, there are .5 to 1% exit load if redeemed before 1 year, 2 year and in some cases 3 years. This means debt funds are as liquid as any other open ended investments.
Debt funds are better than bank FDs
Investments in Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) qualify for tax deduction of up to R1.5 lakh under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. No other equity funds qualify for tax deduction under Section 80C. However, equity funds offer you other tax benefits, too. For example, you can get tax-free dividends from equity mutual funds. If you sell your equity mutual funds after a year, the returns will qualify for long-term capital gains tax. Long-term capital gains tax is nil on equity. If you sell your equity mutual funds before a year, you will have to pay short-term capital gains tax of 15 per cent on your returns.
Debt funds offers tax efficient returns
The other big difference is that of taxation. Returns from bank fixed deposits are interest income and as such have to be added to your normal income. Since many investors are in the top (30 per cent) tax bracket, this takes away a large chunk of their returns. Banks also deduct TDS on interest income from fixed deposits. The tax rates are similar for debt funds held for less than 36 months (though TDS will not generally be deducted). However for debt funds held longer than 36 months, returns are classified as long term capital gains and are taxed at 20 per cent with indexation.
Comparison with FD for the same
investment and tenure