tax saving ELSS Equity linked saving scheme

Should you invest in multiple Equity Linked Saving Schemes (ELSS)?

Equity Linked Saving Schemes or ELSS Fund is a variety of Equity Mutual Fund where the majority of the corpus is invested in equities and equity-oriented instruments. It is a tax saving Mutual Fund where your investments are locked in for 3 years.

ELSS are multi-cap equity funds which invest at least 4/5th of their assets in equities. Such stocks could be small-caps, large-caps, or mid-caps. ELSS funds can invest in the companies of any sizes. Apart from investing in the stocks of private companies, these funds also invest in the Government undertakings to a significant extent.

Note: If you are new to ELSS, you can read our previously published article here.

ELSS: A tax saving instrument

Previously people used to find FD, NPS, PPF, and ULIP as effective tax saving schemes. Nowadays, the taxpayers are feeling more interested in investing their savings in ELSS funds for availing tax benefit.

ELSS is not only having the lowest lock-in period but it also yields higher returns than the other conventional tax-saving instruments. If you are going to redeem your ELSS investments after 3 years, your capital gain will be taxed @ 10% if it crosses Rs 1 lakh.

As per section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, you can get the benefit of tax deduction in a financial year up to Rs 1.5 lakhs. ELSS or Equity Linked Saving Scheme is a prescribed instrument under the said section. So, you can easily save your tax liability up to Rs 46, 800 (Tax plus Cess on such Tax).

Investing in ELSS for generating long-term wealth

If you are looking to create long-term wealth but willing to accept the risk, let me tell you that equities or equity-oriented funds are the best for you. Equities can fetch you substantial returns if you are willing to stay invested for the long term.

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You can choose any form of Mutual Fund i.e. a small-cap fund, large-cap fund or a mid-cap fund. But, neither of the funds can provide you with tax benefits which ELSS can give. Moreover, if the markets seem to be bearish or moving sideways in the short run, you might feel like redeeming your units immediately.

If you have invested in ELSS, you can’t withdraw your investments before the expiry of three years. In that way, investing in ELSS ensures that you stay invested for a long-term irrespective of short-term volatility. So, if you are interested in staying invested for a considerably long period of time, ELSS is definitely an ideal investment option for you.

Should you go for only one ELSS or multiple?

In an ELSS fund, the underlying portfolio consists of around 70 to 100 stocks. Around 5,000 stocks are listed in the Indian markets. Out of such stocks, the top 250 of them contributes towards 90% of the total market capitalization. So, if you are investing in 6 ELSS funds, it means you are indirectly investing in around 600 stocks. This implies that you will end up investing in the stock market as a whole. Therefore, you are virtually removing all possibilities to beat the stock market.

Investing in excessive ELSS funds means you are indirectly looking to form a market portfolio. So, if you are looking to earn what a market index earns, you can opt for such a portfolio. It is highly probable that you won’t earn more than what the market earns but you are also not going to earn less than the same.

There is another limitation of investing in too many ELSS funds. Investing in an excessive number of ELSS will lead to portfolio overlapping. It means that you will be investing in the same stocks through multiple schemes. This would unnecessarily increase your expense ratio instead of yielding the benefit of diversification.

Well, if you are simply looking to invest in the market portfolio, you should consider investing in an Index Mutual Fund or an Index ETF. Through the passive funds, you will be investing in the market indices at a lower cost.

Let us discuss how the situation might look like if your portfolio consists of a single ELSS. If you own only one ELSS fund, it indicates that you have not diversified your investments at all. It seems to be a risky portfolio as you will be exposing it to the risk of underperformance of the Fund Manager. It is of no doubt that you have a higher chance of beating the market if the underlying assets of your scheme consist of top-performing stocks. But, if the market witnesses a downfall, your portfolio will crash down at a higher rate.

An ideal number of ELSS funds for your portfolio

Now, if you ask how many ELSS funds you should have in your portfolio, the ideal number could be either two or three. An ELSS fund is a multi-cap equity fund. Therefore, if you have chosen two to three ELSS funds in your portfolio, you can certainly form a strong portfolio in all possible ways.

Through a single ELSS fund, it is not possible for you to cover a substantial number of top equities. The likeliness increases if you add one or two more ELSS funds in your armory. If your investments can be spread across a good number of profitable stocks, you are going to make significant returns in the days to come. Although your portfolio expenses in the form of equity ratio will go up, the returns are high enough to cover the same comfortably.

We have discussed earlier that too many funds would lead to portfolio overlapping. But, you would not experience the same if you create your portfolio with two to three funds. Investment in a limited number of schemes is not going to capture the major portion of market capitalization. Therefore, you are not forming a portfolio which can replicate the market. So, whatever you will be earning will supposedly beat the market.

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Closing thoughts

No assurance can be given whether a portfolio consisting of two to three ELSS funds can alone serve all your wealth generation and tax-saving requirements. Forming a portfolio for an individual is dependent on several factors. If you are an investor with a high-risk appetite you can team up a small-cap equity fund with a ULIP. On the other hand, if you are highly risk-averse, you can go for a debt fund with a PPF.

Through this article, we have tried to give you a general idea regarding the number of ELSS funds which should be there in your portfolio. If you are seeking an investment option which combines wealth creation and tax saving, ELSS is your answer. Otherwise, if you have any specific requirements with respect to profitability, liquidity, and tax benefit, you are free to create your own portfolio accordingly.

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