Surrender or Continue are not the only options
Deciding the exit options for existing life insurance and pension policies is not easy 
 
At a Moneylife Foundation seminar, Raj Pradhan, an insurance expert, discussed the ways of exiting from life insurance and pension policies. Those who have bought ULIPs (unit-linked insurance plans), traditional (endowment, money-back, whole-life) or pension products, often, end up trying to figure out options to exit the policy. Hopefully, they will not make the same mistake again and follow Moneylife’s suggestion to buy term plans for insurance needs. Contrary to popular perception, pension products from life insurers are poor options for retirement savings.
 
But what if people already have a policy with which they are unhappy. Unlike a usual recommendation given by experts to surrender such policy, Moneylife tells you to evaluate all your options—in many cases, there are three different choices. After all, policy surrender is not the best option, in most cases, especially for traditional products; hence, you should cautious if you are blindly surrendering your life insurance policy. Moneylife has done three Cover Stories on this subject in March 2012, March 2013 and October 2014. 
 
The interactive two-hour session looked at options for handling old ULIPs (pre-September 2010), new ULIPs (post-September 2010), old traditional plans (pre-January 2014), new traditional plans (post-January 2014), old ULPP (unit-linked pension plan) of pre-September 2010, new ULPP (post-September 2010), old pension (traditional) (pre-January 2014) and new pension (traditional) (post-January 2014). Real-life examples were discussed along with cases from the audience to ensure that solutions would help choose the best of the three undesirable options.
 
Old ULIPs had a challenge of non-standard surrender charges which, in some cases, continue till the end of the policy term. The saving grace is ‘cover continuance’ feature which allows the insured to stop paying premium after three years and remain invested without surrender. New ULIPs have standard surrender charges; but the good feature of cover continuance was withdrawn which means that your policy will be deemed to be ‘auto-surrendered’ if you stop paying the premium. 
 
Traditional products offer pathetic guaranteed surrender value. ‘Paid-up’ is an option for traditional policies which have a surrender value. It is similar to cover continuance wherein you do not pay premium but do not surrender till the end of the policy term. Handling a pension policy is the most difficult due to tax implications for policy surrender. 
 
Avoid falling into the trap of fraudulent calls for selling policies as well as mis-selling of surrender. The pitch is to get you to buy a new policy to earn commission for the intermediaries. Buying an online term plan for your life insurance needs will ensure that you don’t have to worry about loss at policy surrender. Put the remaining funds for investments in mutual funds, tax-free bonds, PPF or bank fixed deposits (FDs).

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Tax Deduction on FDs By Banks
I have to pay more as TDS for fixed deposits (FDs). Banks provide for interest annually as accrued and deposit the TDS annually on the basis of interest given. This interest is not actually paid yearly to the customer. In this particular case, apart from regularly deducting TDS at the time of maturity, they also levied TDS and the amount given on maturity is less than what it should be. 
 
I opened an FD with a sum of Rs1 lakh on 25 May 2009. The maturity date was 25 May 2014 with rate of interest 8.5% on cumulative interest basis. Maturity value was Rs1,52,279. After this FD matured, I renewed it for two years 11 months with interest payment on quarterly basis at interest of 9.25% with a base value of Rs1,46,287. TDS of an amount of Rs1,52,279 minus Rs1,46,287 =Rs5,992 was then deducted.
 
Since the FD matured on 25 May 2014, the maturity amount was Rs1,52,279. This means, I earned an interest of Rs52,279 and would have to pay a TDS of Rs5,385. Since the bank had already deducted Rs4,956 as TDS, they should have collected the remaining Rs430 from me. However, on maturity, the bank deducted further Rs5,992 from my account as TDS. This means for the same deposit, the bank deducted Rs10,948 from me. The concept of 10.3% TDS at bank end is also not correct. If someone falls in 20% tax slab, he will have to pay the extra tax as self assessment tax during return filing. 
 
Ameet Patel’s Reply: I too have faced headaches when my FD rolls over into the next year. Therefore, I have stopped placing FDs with banks for more than 360 days. I always renew my FD on 1st April and ensure that it matures somewhere in the last week of next March. Of course, I get lower interest because of this but I avoid the headaches relating to TDS.
 
Banks have to mandatorily deduct tax @ 10.3% because that is the rate prescribed under Section 194A of the Income-tax Act. Further, they are forced to deduct tax on accrual basis. Therefore, in the example that you have given, the bank has correctly deducted every year. However, if they have deducted again at the time of maturity, then it is wrong. You need to get the bank to rectify the mistake. Principally, the working that you have given is correct. I have not verified the arithmetical accuracy. 
 
Your last statement—that because you are in the 20% bracket, it is wrong to deduct tax @10%—is not right. As mentioned above, banks (or for that matter any deductor) have to follow the Section of the Act. Not all taxpayers fall in the higher tax brackets. The government has to keep a cut-off rate so that it is not unfair to a larger section of the tax-paying community. It is in this background that a lower rate of 10% is kept. If you, or any other taxpayer, fall in a higher bracket, the balance tax has to be paid by way of advance tax. 
 
This principle holds good for all payments (like rent, professional fees, contracts, etc). You may appreciate that, for a bank, it is not possible to know which bracket you, or any other investor, falls. So they would not be able to deduct the full tax in each case even if they want to. 
 
You need to take up the matter with the concerned bank and, if they rectify the mistake, well and good. If they don't, in any case you will get a TDS certificate and also the credit in your Form 26AS. Based on that, you need not pay the differential tax (considering that you are in the higher slab of 20%). Either way, you will not be put to a disadvantage. 
 
Moneylife Foundation’s new Helpline - moneylife.in/taxhelp is buzzing with numerous queries from members. We will publish a few questions and answers in the magazine that may have wider interest. Do take advantage of our tax helpline.

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Lack of toilets affect pregnancy outcomes
Poor sanitation practices, such as open defecation, are affecting pregnancy outcomes of Indian women, especially premature birth, says a study.
 
The research, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, studied pregnancy outcomes in two rural areas of Odisha.
 
Bijaya K. Padhi from the Asian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar, and colleagues enrolled 670 women during the first trimester of their pregnancy, recorded information about toilet access and sanitation practices for each woman at enrollment, and followed them through pregnancy until birth.
 
They found that compared with women who used a latrine, women who defecated in the open had a significantly greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes overall and preterm birth, but not low birth weight.
 
Although the researchers adjusted for numerous confounding factors in their analysis, including poverty, social class, and caste, the women who defecated in the open may have shared other unknown characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of an adverse pregnancy outcome.
 
"This study indicates that in the context of maternal and child health prevention research, sanitation is an important dimension of women's health and distinct from social class and caste," said senior study author Pinaki Panigrahi from the University of Nebraska in the US.

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