Are NRE FDs better than FMPs for NRIs?

In a prior post I compared FMPs (Fixed Maturity Plans) with bank fixed deposits, and said that if you are in the higher tax bracket, the tax advantage of FMPs tilt the balance in their favor somewhat (if you can live with the uncertainty).

That’s true for domestic investors but what about NRIs?

Allwyn left the following comment on the Suggest a Topic page a few days ago:

allwyn September 4, 2012 at 12:59 am [edit]

Could you pls. explain the advantages/disadvantages of FDs(presently int. rates of over 9% tax free) over FMP/Debt funds for NRI’s

Thanks in advance


This is an interesting question, and in my mind since it’s only the tax advantage that makes you think of FMPs over fixed deposits for domestic investors, you need to look at the tax angle to answer this question for NRIs as well.

For close to a year now, NRE fixed deposits are tax free, and this was one step by RBI to arrest the Rupee slide. This means that NRE fixed deposits are currently better than NRO fixed deposits, and they are an obvious competitor to NRI investments in FMPs.

I didn’t know how FMPs are taxed for NRIs but this DSP BLACKROCK page on NRI taxation states that NRIs will be taxed at their applicable assessee rate in case of short term capital gains, and will be taxed at 10% without indexation or 20% with indexation for long term capital gains on non – equity mutual funds.

Since most FMPs are slightly over a year to make them count under long term capital gains, this means that most of the time your NRI FMPs will taxed at 10% whereas the returns from your NRE fixed deposits are tax free.

I think in general it is easier to open a NRE fixed deposit than it is to buy a FMP for NRIs, so that’s another thing in their favor along with the fact that you know before hand how much your fixed deposit will earn.

If the tax situation for NRIs change as far as FMPs are concerned then this might be worth a re-look but until then I can’t think of a good reason to favor FMPs instead of FDs for NRIs.

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