18 Jun 2024

Indexation can significantly reduce our tax liability

I invested in HSBC Ultra Short Duration debt fund while indexation benefit was still available to debt mutual funds. (Back then this fund was run by L&T. HSBC then merged this fund with their own Ultra Short Duration fund.)

As you can see from this screenshot, I have an unrealised gain of ₹3.12 lakhs.

Screenshot showing unrealised gain of ₹3,11,971

Kuvera has a premium feature called TradeSmart which shows estimated capital gain/loss before placing a redemption order. If I were to sell all my holdings of this fund, Kuvera tells me, I’ll have taxable long-term gain of ₹12,615.

Screenshot showing taxable gain of ₹12,614.83

How did the gain of ₹3,11,971 diminish to mere ₹12,615? Thanks to the magic of indexation.

Turns out, indexation substantially reduces tax liability of slow growth assets. Indexation is useful for fast growth assets too, but the impact is dramatic if the growth is slow.

In my case, if indexation benefit was not available, I would be liable to pay ₹93,591 (+ 4% cess) at 30% tax rate. But thanks to indexation and reduced 20% tax rate, my tax liability reduces to ₹2,523 (+ 4% cess).

Change in my attitude towards taxation

All this while, my stance was to pick the right asset without worrying about taxation. “Tax is inevitable, so just pay it,” I thought. But seeing these numbers has been a revelation. I had no idea indexation could make such a drastic difference.

I was dismissive of new “debt like” mutual funds that use fancy portfolio construction to qualify for indexation benefits. But I am not so sure anymore. I think I’ll give the Edelweiss Multi Asset Allocation fund a serious consideration. Even if this fund earns lower return than dynamic bond funds, I’ll likely end up with more after-tax corpus thanks to indexation.

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