Mutual Fund Taxation: A Comprehensive Guide to Tax Efficiency & Strategies
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Amid many investment options, mutual funds stand out as dynamic tools for achieving financial goals. Notably, mutual funds boast tax efficiency, a significant advantage over fixed deposits, and all the other options in the market. Unlike fixed deposits, where interest is added to taxable income and taxed at the income slab rate, regulated by the ASIC authority, mutual funds offer a more advantageous scenario. Investing in mutual funds delivers tax-efficient returns, but only if you understand where to invest. In this post, we share everything you need to know about mutual fund taxation and empower you as an investor. Let's begin!

Taxation of Mutual Fund Gains

Understanding the taxation of equity funds is crucial for informed investment decisions. Here's a breakdown:

1. Short-Term Capital Gains (Investments held for less than 12 months)

  • Equity-Oriented Schemes: Taxed at 15% with applicable surcharge and a 4% Health and education Cess.
  • Units of Specified Mutual Funds: Taxed as per investor's rates, along with surcharge and 4% Cess.
  • Other Schemes: Taxed based on investor's applicable rates, surcharge, and 4% Cess.


2. Long-Term Capital Gains (Investments held for over 12 months)

  • Equity-Oriented Schemes: Taxed at 10% without indexation or foreign currency conversion benefits, plus applicable surcharge and 4% Health & Education Cess.
  • Units of Specified Mutual Funds: Exempt from long-term capital gains tax.
  • Other Schemes: Taxed at a rate of 20% with indexation benefits, alongside applicable surcharge and 4% Cess.


Understanding the dichotomy between short-term and long-term capital gains taxes for various types of mutual funds is crucial for investors. These variations impact the returns on investments and necessitate informed decision-making regarding investment tenure and fund choices. Seeking guidance from financial advisors or tax experts is recommended to optimise investment strategies while complying with prevailing tax regulations. This knowledge equips investors to align their investment goals with tax-efficient strategies, ensuring better financial planning and potential tax savings.

Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT)

A significant transformation in the taxation landscape occurred on April 1, 2020, with the abolition of the Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT). This pivotal change shifted the taxation responsibility from the fund house to the investors themselves. Mutual fund dividends, once exempt from tax, are now considered 'income from other sources.' This means that investors are required to include dividend income in their taxable earnings and pay taxes accordingly based on their individual tax slabs.

For resident unit holders receiving dividends, there's a threshold set at 5,000 rupees before tax is deducted at source (TDS). The TDS rate stands at 10%. Dividends exceeding this threshold are subject to taxation based on the unit holder's applicable slab rates, alongside any applicable surcharge and cess. This means that while the TDS ensures an upfront deduction, the final tax liability depends on the individual's overall income and tax bracket. Understanding these regulations helps unit holders plan and assess their tax liabilities arising from dividend income effectively.

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Equity-Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) Tax Benefits

ELSS offers a range of tax benefits. Here's why it stands as the prime choice among all others:

Investment Returns Lock-in Period Tax on Returns
5-Year Bank Fixed Deposit 4% to 6% 5 years Yes
Public Provident Fund (PPF) 7% to 8% 15 years No
National Savings Certificate 7% to 8% 5 years Yes
National Pension System (NPS) 8% to 10% Till Retirement Partially Taxable
ELSS Funds 15% to 18% 3 years Tax Saving Provisions


It is noteworthy that the tax benefit is offered under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, allowing a deduction of up to Rs. 150,000 from your total profit income.

Tax Efficiency and Planning Strategies

Follow these strategies for efficient tax planning:

  • Minimise tax liability in mutual fund investments with strategic planning.
  • Understanding the significance of the holding period and associated tax rates is crucial.
  • Consider timing income, size, and purchases for effective tax planning.
  • Explore strategies like saving for retirement in an IRA or engaging in tax gain-loss harvesting.



Mutual Fund taxation is not just a regulatory requirement; it's a strategy to optimise investment outcomes. We've navigated the intricate tax landscapes of both equity and debt Mutual Funds, shedding light on short-term and long-term capital gains, etc. Armed with this understanding, investors can make proactive decisions, ensuring their investment strategies align harmoniously with tax-efficient principles.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How do I avoid tax on mutual funds?

A: Opt for long-term capital gains on equity fund units held for over a year. Gains up to Rs 1 lakh annually are tax-exempt, but exceeding this limit incurs a 10% LTCG tax without indexation benefit.

Q: What strategies can investors use to minimise tax liability in mutual fund investments?

A: Offset gains by selling investments that have declined in value, reducing overall taxable income.

Q: What are some recent changes in mutual fund taxation, and how do they affect investors?

A: Effective from April 1, 2023, recent changes eliminate indexation benefits for debt funds, and taxing gains based on your slab rate.

Q: How should investors report their mutual fund investments for tax purposes?

A: Declare any equity mutual fund dividends under 'Income from other sources' in the Income Tax Return (ITR).

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Disclaimer: This Article is for information purposes only. The views expressed in this Article do not necessarily constitute the views of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (“Bank”) or its employees. The Bank makes no warranty of any kind with respect to the completeness or accuracy of the material and articles contained in this Article. The information contained in this Article is sourced from empaneled external experts for the benefit of the customers and it does not constitute legal advice from the Bank. The Bank, its directors, employees and the contributors shall not be responsible or liable for any damage or loss resulting from or arising due to reliance on or use of any information contained herein. Tax laws are subject to amendment from time to time. The above information is for general understanding and reference. This is not legal advice or tax advice, and users are advised to consult their tax advisors before making any decision or taking any action. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.