Debt fund taxation change: With no indexation benefit, should you still include debt funds in your investment portfolio?

Debt fund taxation change: With no indexation benefit, should you still include debt funds in your investment portfolio?

Debt fund taxation change has removed the indexation benefit, which has raised concerns about their attractiveness in investment portfolios. However, it is important to assess the overall benefits of debt funds. While indexation helped in reducing tax liability, debt funds still offer advantages like liquidity, diversification, and potential for steady returns. Investors should consider their investment goals, risk tolerance, and tax bracket to determine whether debt funds align with their portfolio. Consulting with a financial advisor can provide valuable insights into alternative investment options and tax-efficient strategies to optimize returns.


The recent taxation change related to debt funds, which removed the indexation benefit, has raised questions about the viability of including debt funds in investment portfolios. Indexation benefit allowed investors to adjust their cost of acquisition for inflation, reducing the tax liability on capital gains. With its elimination, investors must reevaluate the role of debt funds in their portfolio and consider whether the benefits they offer still outweigh the tax implications. This article explores the impact of the taxation change and provides insights into the considerations involved in deciding whether to include debt funds in an investment portfolio.

Understanding Debt Fund Taxation:

Debt funds are investment instruments that primarily invest in fixed-income securities such as bonds, debentures, and government securities. The taxation of debt funds depends on the holding period and the type of capital gains generated. Prior to the recent taxation change, debt funds provided the benefit of indexation to investors.
Now, debt fund taxation is based on the following criteria:

1. Short-Term Capital Gains: If an investor holds debt funds for up to three years, the gains are considered short-term capital gains. These gains are added to the investor’s taxable income and taxed as per their applicable income tax slab rate.

2. Long-Term Capital Gains: If an investor holds debt funds for more than three years, the gains are considered long-term capital gains. The tax rate on long-term capital gains for debt funds is 20% after indexation benefit, subject to the cost inflation index (CII) adjustment. However, with the removal of indexation benefit, long-term capital gains are now taxed at a flat rate of 20% without adjusting for inflation.

It is important to note that the above taxation rules apply to individual and non-corporate investors. Different rules may apply to corporates and other specific categories of investors.

Removal of Indexation Benefit:

The removal of the indexation benefit has significant implications for the taxation of debt funds. Previously, indexation allowed investors to adjust the cost of acquisition of their investment, considering the impact of inflation. This adjustment helped in reducing the taxable capital gains and ultimately the tax liability on long-term investments.

However, with the removal of indexation benefit, investors no longer have the advantage of adjusting their cost of acquisition for inflation. This means that the entire capital gain, without any adjustment for inflation, will be subject to taxation at the applicable tax rate.

The removal of indexation benefit has made the taxation of debt funds less favorable for long-term investors. It has resulted in a higher tax liability, as the entire capital gain is now taxed at the flat rate of 20% for long-term investments.

Assessing the Overall Benefits of Debt Funds:

Despite the removal of the indexation benefit in debt fund taxation, it is crucial to consider the overall benefits that debt funds offer in an investment portfolio. Here are some key factors to evaluate:

1. Stability and Income Generation: Debt funds primarily invest in fixed-income securities, providing stability and regular income to investors. These funds offer predictable returns compared to volatile equity markets, making them suitable for conservative investors seeking steady income.

2. Diversification: Including debt funds in a portfolio provides diversification benefits. They have a lower correlation with equities, which means they can help reduce overall portfolio risk. Diversification helps investors balance risk and potentially enhance risk-adjusted returns.

3. Liquidity: Debt funds typically offer high liquidity, allowing investors to easily enter or exit their positions. This liquidity feature provides flexibility in managing investment portfolios and addressing short-term liquidity needs.

4. Lower Volatility: Debt funds tend to have lower volatility compared to equity investments. This characteristic makes them suitable for investors looking for stability and capital preservation, especially during periods of market turbulence.

5. Investment Options: Debt funds offer a wide range of investment options, including government securities, corporate bonds, money market instruments, and more. This allows investors to choose funds based on their risk appetite, investment horizon, and desired income generation.

6. Tax Efficiency: Although the removal of indexation benefit impacts the tax liability of debt funds, they can still be tax-efficient compared to other investment options. Short-term capital gains from debt funds are added to taxable income, which may be subject to a lower tax rate depending on the individual’s income slab. Additionally, debt funds can provide tax benefits in terms of deductions for expenses related to investment management fees and other expenses.

Liquidity and Diversification:

Two significant benefits of including debt funds in an investment portfolio are liquidity and diversification. Let’s explore these benefits in more detail:

1. Liquidity: Debt funds offer high liquidity, allowing investors to buy or sell their units as per their convenience. Unlike fixed deposits or certain other fixed-income investments that have lock-in periods, debt funds provide the flexibility to enter or exit the investment at any time. This liquidity feature is particularly valuable for investors who may have short-term liquidity needs or want the ability to quickly reallocate their funds.

2. Diversification: Debt funds offer an opportunity for portfolio diversification. By investing in a variety of fixed-income securities such as government bonds, corporate bonds, and money market instruments, debt funds spread the risk across different issuers and sectors. This diversification helps mitigate the impact of any adverse events or defaults in a specific investment, reducing the overall risk of the portfolio. Additionally, combining debt funds with other asset classes, such as equities, further enhances diversification and can contribute to a well-balanced investment strategy.


In conclusion, debt funds offer several benefits that make them a valuable addition to an investment portfolio. Despite the recent removal of indexation benefit, they can still play a significant role in achieving financial goals. The liquidity feature of debt funds allows investors to easily buy or sell units, providing flexibility and addressing short-term liquidity needs. Diversification across various fixed-income securities helps in mitigating risk and creating a balanced portfolio. Moreover, debt funds have the potential to provide steady returns through fixed-income securities and can be particularly attractive in a falling interest rate environment. However, investors should carefully consider the risk-return profile of debt funds and consult with financial advisors to ensure that they align with their individual investment objectives and risk tolerance. Overall, debt funds remain a viable investment option despite the changes in taxation, and their inclusion in a well-diversified portfolio can contribute to long-term financial success.

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