The following article describes the complete details of Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS). This is part 1 of series 3. This article will explain all the features, benefits, eligibility criteria and all other info in detail for the benefit of investors.
What is RGESS
Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS), is a tax saving scheme announced in the Union Budget 2012-13 (para 35). The scheme is designed exclusively for the first time retail individual investors in securities market, whose gross total income for the year is less than or equal to Rs. 10 lakh. The investor would get under Section 80CCG of the Income Tax Act, a 50% deduction of the amount so invested, upto a maximum investment of Rs. 50,000, from his/her taxable income for that year.
What is the objective of the Scheme?
As announced in the Union Budget 2012-13, the objective of the Scheme is to encourage the flow of savings and to improve the depth of domestic capital markets. This would help in promoting an ‘equity culture’ in India. The Scheme aims at widening the retail investor base in the Indian securities markets and also furthers the goal of financial stability and financial inclusion.
What is the legal provision for RGESS?
A new section 80CCG under the Income tax Act, 1961 on ‘Deduction in respect of investment under an equity savings scheme’ was introduced, vide Finance Act 2012, to give tax benefits to ‘New Retail Investors’ who invest up to Rs.50,000 in ‘Eligible Securities’ and whose gross total annual income is less than or equal to Rs.10 Lakhs.The details of the RGESS Scheme were notified on 23 November 2012 (Section No. 2777(E); Notification No. 51) and vide subsequent corrigendum dated 5 December 2012 (Section No. 2835(E); Notification No. 53) by Department of Revenue. The operational guidelines were issued by SEBI on 6 December 2012.
Would first time investors not lose money in the equity market? Would it be too dangerous for them to invest in it?
The investors in the RGESS run the risk of losing money in the equity market, like any other investor in the securities market. The Scheme does not provide any guarantee of assured returns. Therefore, investors under RGESS are advised to do due diligence before making any investments in the equity market. However, while
designing the Scheme, safeguards like, restricting the investments to select large cap stocks, lock-in period with enough flexibility to take benefits of the positive market movements etc. have been provided to protect the interests of the first time investors.
To give the benefit of diversification and consequent risk minimization, investments into Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or Mutual funds, set up as per the criteria laid down in the scheme, are also allowed under the Scheme.
We already have an Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS)? Why do we need RGESS?
ELSS and RGESS are entirely different schemes: They pertain to different asset classes with ELSS offering passive investment avenues. ELSS is meant for indirect participation in the stock market, whereas RGESS aims at encouraging direct participation in the stock market. The operational differences are given below:
What are the benefits / highlights of RGESS compared to other tax saving schemes?
The following are the benefits of RGESS:
- The allowed tax deduction u/s 80CCG will be over and above the Rs. 1 Lakh limit permitted under Section 80C of the Income Tax (IT) Act, making it thus attractive for the middle class investors.
- Further, the Dividend income is also tax free.
- Investor is free to trade / churn the portfolio after the lock-in period in each of the years following the first year of investment, subject to certain conditions.
- Gains arising out of higher market valuation of RGESS eligible securities can be realized after a year viz: fixed lock-in period. Provisions exist to protect the investor from general declines in the market to a certain extent. This is in contrast to all other tax saving instruments.
- You can meet emergencies through pledging or even by selling off some stocks after the fixed lock-in period.
- For investments upto Rs.50,000 in your sole RGESS demat account, if you opt for Basic Service Demat Account, annual maintenance charges for the demat account is zero and for investments upto Rs. 2 lakh, it is stipulated at Rs 100.
- The investments can be made in installments during the first financial year in which tax deduction is claimed.
Who all will be covered under the Scheme? Who is a new investor?
The Scheme is open for all New Retail Investors who have gross total income less than or equal to Rs. 10 lakh. A new retail investor is one:
- who is a resident individual (the benefit cannot be availed by corporate entities / trusts etc)
- who has not opened a Demat account and has also not done any trading in the derivative segment till RGESS account opening date.
- those who have opened the Demat account and have not made any transactions in equity and /or in the derivative segment till designating such account as RGESS.
In case of joint accounts, only the first account holder will be considered as the existing retail investor. All those existing account holders other than the first demat account holder (eg. second / third account holders or other joint holders) or nominees of the existing account holders will be considered as new retail investors for the purpose of opening of a fresh RGESS account, if otherwise eligible.
In case the demat account is opened as a first holder, but there are no transactions in the equity or derivate segment, still the first account holder is eligible.
The new retail investor will have to submit a declaration, as in Form ‘A’, to the Depository Participant (DP) at the time of account opening or designating his existing demat account for taking the benefits under RGESS. Eligible securities, which are brought thereafter into such an account, will be automatically subject to lock-in upto a value of Rs. 50,000, unless the investor specifies otherwise through the Form ‘B’ specified in this regard.
I am a non-resident Indian; Am I eligible for RGESS?
I am already having units of mutual fund and / or Exchange Traded Funds; Am I eligible for the RGESS?
Yes. Prior investments in mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds do not make an investor ineligible for the Scheme. However, you need to invest afresh in RGESS eligible mutual fund /ETF schemes and hold them in a demat account to avail of the benefits under RGESS.
I possess some physical shares; Am I eligible under RGESS?
Yes. You will be considered as a new retail investor, if otherwise eligible. However, you need to make fresh investments to avail of the benefits under RGESS. You will not be eligible to claim benefits of RGESS on dematerialisation of such shares.
What are the investment options available under the Scheme? What are the “eligible securities” under RGESS?
The investment options under the scheme will be limited to the following categories of equities:
Listed equity shares
a. The top 100 stocks at NSE and BSE i.e., CNX-100 / BSE -100 (This does not mean that one has to trade through NSE or BSE only. If the securities constituting BSE 100 or CNX 100 are listed and traded in any new stock exchange that may come up on a later day, the same will be eligible for RGESS.)
b. Stocks of public sector enterprises which are categorized by the Government as Maharatna, Navaratna and Miniratna
c. Combinations of stocks in (a) and /or (b) which are listed and traded on a stock exchange and settled through a depository system (eg. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)or Mutual Fund (MF) schemes with RGESS eligible securities as mentioned in (a) and / or (b) as underlying, provided they are listed and traded on a stock exchange and settled through a depository mechanism)
d. Follow-on Public Offers (FPOs) of (a) and (b)
e. New Fund Offers (NFOs) of (c) above
Unlisted equity shares
f. Initial Public Offers (IPOs) of PSUs, which are scheduled to get listed in the relevant financial year and where the government holding is at least 51% and whose annual turnover is not less than Rs. 4000 cr for each of the immediate past three years.
(*Investment criteria as applicable at the time of investment)
Where can I get information about these eligible stocks?
The consolidated and updated list of eligible securities from time to time is published on the websites of exchanges / Depositories / AMFI.
For detailed information see at the relevant pages of the websites of SEBI NSE BSE, NSDL, CDSL and AMFI.
As regards eligible IPOs, companies would be publishing this information in their offer documents / public advertisements.
Why RGESS Investments are limited to top 100 stocks?
The Scheme is designed for new investors who are venturing in the equity markets for the first time. The choice of investments have been restricted to the stocks included in BSE 100 or CNX 100 and to selected PSU stocks as they generally have shown relatively lower volatility, higher liquidity, and there is adequate reporting and analysis available in the market. The range of 100 stocks also provides enough scope for diversification of investments.
When I made the investment, the particular stock was in BSE 100; thereafter it was removed from the BSE 100 list by the exchange; Is my investment still eligible for RGESS when I file my returns?
A stock has to be in BSE 100 or CNX 100 only at the time at which the investments are made. This means that even if the stock moves out of CNX 100 / BSE 100, the investor would be deemed to be compliant for RGESS. However, his rights are limited to just selling those stocks off from RGESS portfolio. If he repurchases / make additions to the existing stock, then the additional stock will not be counted as a part of the RGESS portfolio.
I applied for the IPO in the month of March; However, the company got listed in the stock exchange only in April i.e, in the next financial year. Is my investment eligible?
No, only if it is scheduled to be listed in the same financial year the investment is eligible.
What is the maximum amount that I can invest in securities market? Can I bring the same in installments?
There is no maximum prescribed limit for your investments in securities market. However, RGESS benefits will be available only for investments in eligible securities upto Rs. 50,000. This investment can be made in installments. However, the benefits can be availed only for the investments made in the first financial year in which the benefit is claimed under Section 80CCG. Hence, if you are making investments in installments, make sure that you are making all your installments in a single financial year (which should be the year in which you open / designate your account for RGESS) as subsequent investments will not be counted towards RGESS.
Can I split my investment under RGESS over two financial years and claim deduction?
No. Only the investment during the first financial year can be booked as investment under RGESS to claim deduction.
Why the Scheme limit the benefits of the Scheme only to the first year?
The Scheme, as such, is designed for only the first time new investors. Since they can be ‘new’ only in the first year of entering the market, the benefits of the Scheme is limited to only one year for a particular beneficiary, i.e., the tax benefit can be availed of only to the extent of investments made in a single financial year in which the investor makes the first RGESS eligible investment after opting for the RGESS account.
The limitation of one year also arises from clause 2 of Section 80CCG as given below, which was inserted vide, Finance Act, 2012 in the Income Tax Act, 1961
80CCG (2) Where an assessee has claimed and allowed a deduction under this section for any assessment year in respect of any amount, he shall not be allowed any deduction under this section for any subsequent assessment year.
However, considering the financial constraints of the small retail investors, the flexibility to invest in installments in the first financial year is provided in the Scheme.
How much tax deduction will I be eligible for under RGESS?
You will be eligible to get tax deduction u/s 80CCG on 50% of the amount invested. Let us say, you invest Rs.50,000 under RGESS, the amount eligible for tax deduction will be Rs.25,000 from your taxable income. Let us say, you invest Rs.40,000 under RGESS, the amount eligible for tax deduction will be Rs.20,000 from your taxable income. This deduction is over and above Rs. 1 lakh limit specified under Section 80C.
In other words, for those who are in the 10% income tax bracket, savings from tax liability for investments upto Rs. 50, 000 under RGESS is Rs. 2500 (plus cess as applicable) and for those who are in the 20% income tax bracket, savings from tax liability is Rs. 5000/-(plus cess as applicable).
I have already claimed tax benefit under Section 80C. Can I avail of RGESS?
Yes you can. The tax deduction for RGESS is u/s 80CCG and it is over and above the Rs. 1 lakh limit specified under Section 80C. Further, it is not mandatory for citizens to exhaust the limit of Rs 1 lakh specified under Section 80C to make investments under Section 80CCG for RGESS.