Infrastructure bonds not really tax-free

In my office there was a lot of hype over investment in the IDFC Infrastructure bonds which were recently issued. These were considered as a great investment vehicle by most of the websites/media channels, goading the retail public to take part in the issue.

I felt that the biggest mis-information regarding these infrastructure bonds is the notion of it being tax-free. Also the problem is compounded by the introduction of section 80CCF in the IT Act by the government which allowed additional window of tax deduction of investments upto Rs 20,000.

But as I mentioned earlier that there are lot of caveats to investing in these infrastructure bonds.  The biggest confusion most retail investors have is that the bonds are tax-free, but they are not. The interest received from these bonds are actually taxable and it has been mentioned in the prospectus of the IDFC Infrastructure bond[PDF] as well (check page 29). The current IT Act does not exempt the interest earned through these infrastructure bonds although the tax at source (TDS) is NOT deducted. 

The 20,000 Rs additional tax deduction window is too small for any significant benefit. So if you fall in the highest bracket you save at the most Rs 6K a year. The interest earned by you at the rate of 7.5% to 8% will get lower after you include the interest in your taxable income and pay tax on it.

Also most investor think that investment in these bonds is as secure as a fixed deposit, but in-fact these are not as secure. The investors should visit the Risk Factors (Page 46) in the PDF to become aware of the risk in these investments.

I suggested in my earlier post to wait before investment and now I would suggest to invest only if you want to diversify your portfolio to include these bonds, otherwise I would suggest an equivalent investment in mutual funds (higher risk appetite) or in gold (higher gains with lower risks) since these avenues are much better than infrastructure bonds in the current form.

UPDATE: The tax-free bonds typically signify that the investment amount can be used against tax reduction, but I feel that it creates a confusion and should only be applied to EEE type of investments.

NOTE: Dhirendra Kumar, Value Research have similar thoughts.


  1. Sachin6:42 PM

    I do not agree with your one notion >> gold (higher gains with lower risks).

    Golds at current price (20K) do not provide buffer for HIGHER GAINS.

    Equity is the best way to increase money. And definitely if you consider longer term view (5+ years) its even less risky.

  2. sachin87786:01 AM

    I agree with you Sachin.

  3. Anonymous6:49 PM

    Thank you Sachin and sachin8778 for visiting my site.

    @Sachin: Gold has given a phenomenal gains over the last decade. I do agree that current prices are very higher and investment right now may not fetch handsome returns. But it has been a safest investment. Equity only gives decent returns if someone is willing to take higher risks.