The rate of interest for NSC is set by the government and revised by them on a yearly basis. The rates are announced on 1st April for the fiscal year. Interest rates are currently 6.80% for VIII Issue which has a maturity tenure of 5 years. Earlier, a 10-year maturity NSC was offered which has been discontinued from December 2015.
The National Savings Certificate (NSC) is a popular mode of small savings investment in India. This instrument is backed by the government and as such carries with it very low risk. The NSC is available primarily from the post office and is similar to another popular savings instrument, the Public Provident Fund (PPF). NSCs are a part of the postal savings system which come under the Indian Postal Service.
NSCs have a maturity of 5 years and the offerings are close ended products. The 5-year maturity NSC is offered as NSC VIII Issue.
NSCs are quite popular with the Indian populace, mainly due to the assured savings as well as tax benefits that can be claimed on investments made into this instrument. The tax benefits are available under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. This section allows for tax benefits up to Rs.1.5 lakhs p.a. on investments in various specified instruments such as insurance, savings schemes, mutual funds etc.
The NSCs can be purchased through any post office branch by an adult on his or a minor’s behalf, joint accounts and minors. These instruments have the added benefit of being accepted as a collateral by lenders when applying for a loan. NSCs have been in circulation since the 1950s.
National Savings Certificate interest rate
The NSC rate of interest has been fixed by the government and is subject to revision on a yearly basis. Rates are announced at the start of every fiscal year on 1st April by the government for the year forward. The current NSC rates are as follows (w.e.f. 1 April 2020):
- NSC VIII Issue (5 years maturity): 6.80% compounded half yearly
On maturity, the accrued interest on NSC can be reinvested in a new issue. This offers the dual benefits of:
- Tax benefits are not applicable on the accrued interests from NSCs. By reinvesting the earned interests, you can claim this amount as deductions under Section 80C.
- If you do not redeem or reinvest the amount in the NSC after maturity, the deposit will start earning taxable interest at simple interest rates, reducing the scope for accruing interests.
Earlier, the NSC VIII Issue was available for a maturity of 6 years. This was changed to 5 years in the year 2011.
Interest on premature withdrawal of NSCs
NSCs cannot be withdrawn prematurely unless one of the following happens:
- Death of account holder or holders in case of joint account.
- Forfeiture of a pledgee being a Gazetted government officer when pledge conforms to the rules.
- On court order.
No interest will be applicable if the NSC is withdrawn within 1 year of issuance. Certificates withdrawn later than 1 year but before maturity will attract interest at discounted rates. NSCs should generally be allowed to mature instead of opting for encashment before maturity.
This may look adverse from a liquidity point of view. However, NSCs have the distinction of being accepted as collateral by various lenders when applying for loans. As such, you can still enjoy liquidity from your NSC investments without breaking the deposit. This is a middle way of ensuring the interests keep accumulating while you are covered for immediate financial needs. However, you should note that personal loans have higher rates of interest and this should be a part of your consideration when applying for a loan.
Example of returns from NSC
NSC VIII Issue
You can start investing in 5 year maturity NSC VIII Issue with as little as Rs.100. There is no upper limit on investments in this bond. For a nominal deposit of Rs.100 in a 5 year maturity certificate, you stand to receive Rs.151.62 at maturity at the interest rate of 8.50% compounded half yearly. From this accrued interest, i.e. Rs.51.62, you will have to pay income tax as per your tax slab.