Pay Less Tax with MIPs and Beat Inflation

Invest MIPs Online

Retirees looking for regular income in their golden years should opt for these funds which invest a small portion of their corpus in equities and the rest in the safety of debt.

Retirees who invest in fixed deposits for regu lar income in retire ment don’t realise that their money is losing value due to inflation. Even though their monthly requirement will gradually go up due to inflation, their deposits will continue to give out a fixed amount. The best alternative are monthly income plans (MIPs) from mutual funds. These funds follow a conservative investment strategy, allocating only 1020% of their corpus to equities and putting the rest 80-90% in safer bonds and other debt instruments.The returns are not very spectacular but are enough to beat inflation.

The good thing about MIPs is the relative safety they offer. These funds will give investors good returns if stock markets do well but they will also protect the downside because of the limited exposure to equities.

MIPs are also more tax efficient than fixed deposits. Interest from fixed deposits is fully taxable. For a person in the 30% tax bracket, the post-tax returns from a fixed deposit that offers 8% is actually 5.6%.Worse, this income is taxed every year even though he may get it only after the deposit matures. Also, if it exceeds a certain limit, it attracts TDS, so there is no escape. Retired engineer Kalyan Ghosh was advised by friends to split his fixed deposits across different banks. That might help him escape TDS but the income will still be taxable.

On the other hand, the gains from MIP funds are taxed only when the investor redeems the investment. Even then, only the gains are taxed and that too at a lower rate (see box). Investing in MIPs can help retirees bring down their tax liability.

Is monthly income assured?

Though these are called “monthly income plans“, there is no assurance of monthly income. In fact, the dividend option of these funds is a very tax inefficient way to get a monthly income. Though the dividend received is tax-free, it comes to you after a heavy 30% dividend distribution tax. It is best to go for the growth option of the MIP fund and redeem units as and when you need the money. You can also start a systematic withdrawal plan (SWP) under which a fixed sum is redeemed every month and put into your bank account. Ideally, one should start redemptions after three years of investing for greater tax efficiency.

MIPs can be good source schemes for systematic transfer plans (STP) into equity funds. In an STP, a fixed sum flows out of the scheme to another scheme (usually an equity fund) on a predetermined day of the month or quarter.

Be wary of the charges though.MIPs have high charges (some charge up to 2.5%), which can be a drag on the overall returns.

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