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Why Fixed Maturity Plans are good
Amita Shah | April 16, 2007
In March 2007, Reliance Mutual fund alone launched seven FMPs and mobilised Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion), which helped them to attain the number one status, in terms of assets under management.
FMPs are basically debt-based products, which come with a pre-specified tenure. In a way they are similar to bank deposits but with one difference. The rate of return in a FMP is 'indicated' as against 'guaranteed' in a deposit.
However, what makes FMPs interesting is the way it is taxed. In FMPs, one has to pay 11.33 per cent (10 per cent plus surcharge) as long-term capital gains tax, if the holding period is more then one year without indexation. If indexation benefits are availed then they are taxed at 22.66 per cent.
Operationally, an FMP works this way. Say, you invest in a 91-day FMP. On allotment, you are given units of the scheme without the deduction of any entry load. After 91 days, the units are automatically redeemed and the payout is credited to your bank account without any exit load. The only criticism to this has been that there is no roll-over facility in case of FMPs.
To address this, asset management companies have come up with the concept of an 'interval fund'. The interval period can be of one month, three months and other tenures. The main differentiator in an interval fund is that there is an option of redemption on specified transaction dates that is, the interval date with no exit load.
If you redeem in between the two specified transaction dates, then you have to bear the exit load. If you want your monies on the transaction date then you have to exercise the option or it will automatically roll over to the next interval. The indicative return on every roll over will be communicated and will vary. In short, on a specified date, in an interval fund, there is automatic roll-over while in a normal FMP there is redemption.
Another edge is the advantage of long-term capital gains if you have stayed invested for more than a year. Since the tax rate on long-term capital gains is lower, the post-tax returns are higher.
Now comes the question of dividend option. The asset management company has to deduct dividend distribution tax at a specified rate which is as follows -
Now comes the tricky part. The Finance Minister in 2007-08 Budget has increased the rate of DDT for all liquid schemes to 25 per cent plus surcharge. There is some confusion on whether FMP can be classified under the liquid category.
But if the tax department takes a view that FMPs are liquid schemes then the DDT rate will be 28.33 per cent.(25 per cent base rate+10% surcharge+3%education cess).
In any case 28.33 per cent is lower then the highest tax rate. So if you pay tax as per the highest slab and are not rolling over your investment , dividend is a good option.
The advantage of interval funds is that it empowers the fund manager to take a longer term view and give superior returns by managing the portfolio duration. At present, HDFC and Reliance have already launched and closed their Interval NFO's. If it gains acceptance considering its utility, more will follow suit.The writer is Head - Mutual funds, Derivium Capital & Securities.