Last minute tax saving guide for Dummies

Tushar is a personal finance enthusiast who loves to write on money, savings, investments and spending. Through his writings on www.jaintushar.com, his vision is to make personal finance easy and comprehensible for his audience.

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Yesterday a friend reached out to me for some tax saving advise (by the way, I am not a certified financial planner or a tax advisor, so the advice is purely in good faith).

This friend is of my age, has been earning for the past 12 years and is well settled in his career.

And still, I was surprised that he has zero planning when it comes to his finances, including taxes.

Nevertheless, better late than never.

I offered him 6 simple yet actionable inputs.

If you are also like my friend taking personal finances lightly, March is probably the month when you should get serious.

While I am not in favour of taking major financial decisions in the last month of the financial year, it’s still better to take a few decisions than taking none.

Here’s my list of 6 simple action items you should consider in March in your run-up to tax saving.

 

#1 Buy a Term Life Insurance

If you are not carrying life insurance, this is probably the time of the year you should buy one.

You have both the need and the urgency for it now.

No doubt why the majority of life insurers do more than half of their business in the last three months of the financial year.

But wait for a second –  don’t fall in the trap of buying ULIPS/endowment plan etc.

These financial products are the best fit for the people who have their life risk sufficiently covered and are looking for investment options while saving some taxes.

For a middle-class individual, term insurance is the cheapest and the best instrument to cover the risk. Enough has been already written about the benefits of term insurance so I would stop here.

Max tax exemption available:  Rs. 1,50,000 under sec 80C investments.

 

#2 Buy a Health insurance

If you have been delaying your decision to buy health insurance, March is the month when you shouldn’t wait any longer.

Medical costs are increasing day by day.

An unforeseen medical emergency will put your finances at too much risk.

So cover your risk of a medical emergency, at the same time enjoy the tax benefits.

Max tax exemption available:  Rs. 25,000 for self/spouse/dependent children & additional Rs. 25,000 for parents aged less than 60 years. For parents above the age of 60 years, the additional amount is Rs.50,000. This is as per the section 80D of the income tax.

 

#3 Invest in PPF

Haven’t made even a single contribution to your PPF account in the current financial year?

Make a minimum contribution of at least Rs. 500 or your account will become inactive.

And if you are still short of reaching your 80C limit and have the funds available, put more than Rs. 500 in your PPF account.

I have given a broad rule of thumb on how much to invest in a PPF account in one of my earlier articles.

Max tax exemption available: Rs. 1,50,000 under sec 80C investments.

 

#4 Start a SIP in ELSS

If you have been inactive with your finances throughout the financial year, March is probably a great time to start a SIP in an Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS).

That will ensure some tax saving for the current financial year as well as for the next year.

Make sure you are investing in Direct funds, and that too in the growth option. (Read more about ELSS here).

You will find such funds on Kuvera and can invest there, and that too for free.

Here’s my personal experience with Kuvera as the Direct Mutual Fund platform.

Max tax exemption available: Rs. 1,50,000 under sec 80C investments.

 

#5 Get a Health Checkup Done

Do you know that amounts up to Rs 5000 spent towards a preventive health checkup is exempted from income tax.

If your premium paid towards the health insurance is less than Rs. 25,000, you can take the benefit and get a health checkup done.

Personally, I would suggest a preventive health checkup to everyone at least once a year. That way, you can keep a basic check on your health and take corrective actions well within time.

And you can also save some tax as well.

And March is the time that most of the diagnostic labs run multiple discount offers.

Don’t let the opportunity go waste.

Max tax exemption available: Rs. 5,000 under sec 80D investments.

 

#6 Contribute Something to Charity

If you strongly feel for a cause, show your financial support towards it.

While your donation can help someone in need, it will also help you get a tax benefit under section 80 G. (Do ensure that you check this with the organization before you make a donation.)

As far as I am concerned, I have been regularly contributing to the National Defense Fund every year on the Army day.

And with recent Pulwama attacks happening, you can also consider contributing to Bharat Ke Veer fund set up by the Govt. of India.

All your contributions to this fund will be 100% tax exempted and will be distributed amongst martyrs families.

Max tax exemption available: Either 50% or 100% of the contribution, based on the organization.

 

Conclusion

While the last minute tax saving is not the best option, it’s still better than not saving at all.

We are at the beginning of March and you have 31 days at your disposal.

Don’t delay the process any further. You are always prone to making judgement errors when the time to analyse is scarce.

If you are used to acting at the last minute, this is the time when you should get active and start moving things.

Happy tax saving.

 

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