Fixed Deposit

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What is a fixed deposit?

A fixed deposit (FD) is a financial instrument provided by banks or NBFCs which provides investors a higher rate of interest than a regular savings account, until the given maturity date. It is a type of Term Deposit is quite a popular investment choice in India due to high interest rate (as compared to regular savings account) and low risk. The interest rate is fixed for the whole maturity period and it’s usually considered as an extremely safe investment. The interest rates differ from bank to bank and the interest earned can be calculated Cumulative, Quarterly, Monthly and Standard.

What does Fixed Deposit cover?

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Benefits of a fixed deposit:

  • Customers can avail loans against FDs up to 80 to 90 percent of the value of deposits. The rate of interest on the loan could be 1 to 2 percent over the rate offered on the deposit.
  • Residents of India can open these accounts for a minimum of seven days.
  • Investing in a fixed deposit earns customers a higher interest rate than depositing money in a savings account.
  • Encourages Savings: “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffet. This stresses the importance of savings. A fixed deposit account holder will inadvertently save money, since FDs require the holder to invest a lumpsum amount for a fixed period of time. Premature withdrawals attract penalties. For example, a FD of Rs. 1,00,000 invested for 3 years at 9% interest rate, if withdrawn after a year, will get interest at the rate applicable at that time, which will be lesser than 9%. The loss of interest becomes the penalty that you pay for a premature withdrawal.
  • Tax Benefits: Tax-saver FD attracts tax benefits under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. It falls under the Exempt-Tax-Exempt category. Although the interest earned on such FDs is taxable, you can claim a deduction of a maximum of Rs. 1,50,000 for the amount invested.
  • Safe Investment: FDs are risk free investments. Unlike other investment tools, FDs are not market-driven. You get an assured sum of money at the end of the maturity period. This is thus an attractive investment for risk-averse investors.
  • Higher Rate of Interest: The rate of interest on FDs is higher than that on saving deposits. For example, Axis Bank offers 4% interest on saving bank accounts, whereas the minimum interest that a FD attracts is 5.5%.
  • Liquidity: An asset is liquid when you can easily convert it into cash. FDs are liquid. Although the holder will be charged a penalty, FDs can be withdrawn as and when needed. Thus, you always have a certain sum of money to bank on.
  • Flexibility: The tenure of FDs varies from 7 days to 10 years. You can invest in FDs for a tenure that matches your business or personal needs. Suppose, you plan to get your child in a particular school in another 5 years, you can opt for a tax saving FD as it has a lock-in period of 5 years.

Asset Allocation

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In India, tax is deducted by the banks on FDs if interest paid to a customer at any bank exceeds ₹ 10,000 in a financial year. This is applicable to both interest payable or reinvested per customer. This is called Tax deducted at Source and is presently fixed at 10% of the interest. With CBS banks can tally FD holding of a customer across various branches and TDS is applied if interest exceeds ₹ 10,000. Banks issue Form 16 A every quarter to the customer, as a receipt for Tax Deducted at Source.

However, tax on interest from fixed deposits is not 10%; it is applicable at the rate of tax slab of the deposit holder. If any tax on Fixed Deposit interest is due after TDS, the holder is expected to declare it in Income Tax returns and pay it by himself.

If the total income for a year does not fall within the overall taxable limits, customers can submit a Form 15 G (below 60 years of age) or Form 15 H (above 60 years of age) to the bank when starting the FD and at the start of every financial year to avoid TDS.

Why is a fixed deposit important?

If you’re someone who does not want to take market-related risks and is okay with the decent returns, FD will work well for you. If you have taxable income and are looking for a tax-saving safe investment option, you should consider FD. It will allow you up to Rs. 1.5 lakh of Income Tax Deductions u/s 80C of the IT Act. If you’re a retired person who wants a regular income, invest your savings in different FD schemes across various banks and go for the non-cumulative option. In this option, you will get the regular interest that will act as your income post-retirement. If you’re a homemaker who has a certain amount to invest, it would be good for you to analyse the FD option. This is because fixed deposits do not carry any significant risk.


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