Understanding the Basics of Stocks and Shares Individual Savings Accounts

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are a very popular means of saving and investing money in the United Kingdom. In fact, thousands and thousands of UK citizens over the age of eighteen make hundreds of dollars off their ISA accounts each year.

The primary reason that ISA accounts are so very effective at earning money is that they are all but tax-free. Basically, any money earned from interest or investments from the accounts is not taxed at the end of a tax year.

While cash ISAs are basically just savings accounts that are tax-free, stocks and shares ISAs, the type focused upon here, are more along the lines of an investment that is tax-efficient. A stocks and shares ISA gives you the opportunity to invest your money in different areas, such as open-ended investment companies (OEICs), unit trusts, government bonds, and corporate bonds, with the highest level of tax efficiency possible.

If you are interested in investing in a stocks and shares ISA, there are several things that you must first know. Below is a discussion on the basics of these ISA accounts. Thoroughly understanding these basics will allow you to effectively begin looking at the very best ISAs for you.

Risk of Stocks and Shares ISAs

Before moving on to the complexities of stocks and shares ISAs, it is important to point out their primary difference from cash ISAs: risk.

Simply put, stocks and shares ISAs are much riskier than their cash counterparts. This is largely because investments, unlike set interest rates, can go either up or down. If you don’t make a solid investment, you might lose money rather than gain money. However risky stocks and shares ISAs may be the potential for a high payoff is by and far greater than with a cash ISA.

How Much Can You Invest?

One of the first questions that many people have regarding stocks and shares ISAs is how much you can invest.

You are allowed to invest up to £11,520 per tax year in ISAs in general. This is between both the stocks and shares version and the cash version. You may decide to invest this all in a stocks and shares ISA or split the allowance up between the two, putting up to half of it into a cash ISA.

Many people decide to split their allowance straight down the middle. They do this by investing £5,760 in a cash ISA and the other £5,760 in a stocks and shares ISA. This method of saving/investing has the benefit of being both safe and rewarding.

What Are the Tax Benefits of a Stocks and Shares ISA?

The best ISAs have solid tax benefits. In fact, these tax advantages are one of the main reasons to invest in a stocks and shares ISA in the first place.

It is important to point out that using your ISA for a share-based investment, like an OEIC, will most likely only give you a tax break if you actually make money from the investments. In other words, an ISA will benefit you if you would normally be required to pay capital gains taxes on the investments.

With a stocks and shares ISA, you have an allowance of £10,900 for capital gains. Make less than this off of an ISA investment and you won’t have to pay any taxes on it at all.

Investing in investments with dividends is a different story. Normally, dividends investments in the United Kingdom require you to pay a 32.5pc tax per year (or 37.5pc for additional rate taxpayers). Invest in dividends through an ISA and you will only have to pay 10% on these dividends.

Are There Any Related Charges?

It is essential to note that there are a handful of related charges when you invest in a stocks and shares ISA.

Chief among these is commission that is used to pay financial advisors. This commission, however, has been banned in many cases. ISA charges might also include fees to cover admin costs and fees to make payments to fund managers. Simply put, charges for ISA accounts vary depending on your individual investments, just like they would for an investment outside of an ISA.

There is simply no denying that investing in an Individual Savings Account, whether a stocks and shares ISA or a cash ISA, is an excellent way to earn back additional money.

Before making any moves, it is essential that you understand the nature of the account you wish to put your hard-earned money into. The information regarding stocks and shares ISAs discussed above will help you find the best ISAs possible and will ensure that your money is used as effectively as possible.

3 Ways to Ensure That You Maximise Your Cash ISA Allowance for Greater Savings Potential

Trying to figure out how to maximise your cash ISA (Individual Saving Account) allowance should take place at the beginning of the year, rather than waiting until the last minute. This is particularly true for individuals who do not have easily accessible lump sums of cash at their disposal at any given time. If you want to get the most out of this type of savings strategy, then you need to learn how to optimise the opportunities it provides.

As you know, your cash ISA allowance is regulated by certain rules that specify exactly how much you can put into this type of savings account over the course of a single year. As long as you follow these guidelines and the suggestions included here, you should be able to maximise your profits quite nicely.

Maximise Your Full Cash ISA Allowance Each Year

Perhaps the most important reason to maximise on the amount of money that you contribute each year is the fact that you’ll end up with more money at the end of the tax year. It’s only logical that the more you put into it, the larger the sum of cash you accumulate will be.

One of the other reasons that you should try to put in the full tax allowance is that you don’t have to worry about paying taxes on your contributions. Unlike a regular savings account, all of the interest that you earn is tax-free, so you get to keep all of it. Again, the more you put into it, the greater your savings will be.

Since your returns are tax-free, it makes sense to put in as much as you can afford up to your full limit. For tax year 2013/2014, UK investors can place as much as £5,760 into their accounts. Of course, the amount for a junior account is less, and it is valued at £3,720. You should always use your full cash ISA allowance because you can’t rollover any unused amounts to the next year’s account. Take advantage of full tax allowance by putting in whatever you can afford whenever you can.

You should make sure that you get your money to work for you by putting it in as early in the year as possible. The earlier that you deposit your money, the sooner it will begin earning interest for you. If you wait until two months before the end of the tax year, your money is only going to earn interest during those two months. However, if you put it into the account during the first month, your money will earn interest for the full twelve months. If you are looking to earn money, then it only makes good sense to start as early as you can.

Start Now and Watch Your Money Grow

If you haven’t yet started to save by opening a cash ISA, it isn’t too late. You can begin whenever you like, but the sooner you start, the better your chances are to realise your full allowance. Plus, you don’t need to have access to a lot of money when you first begin to save. In fact, it is easy to get started, since you can open an account with a single pound. Yes, just one pound will provide access to an ISA of your own. So, if you start now with one pound and continue to deposit additional sums of cash, you will be able to watch your money grow now instead of waiting to accumulate a large sum to open up an account.

Top Off Regularly and Reach Your Full Cash Allowance Sooner

If you haven’t already been doing so, it is important to top off your cash ISA regularly if you want to have hopes of maximizing on your allowance. You should simply develop a regular habit of putting money into the account as regularly as you can. Don’t set your goal too high or you will experience disappointment far too often. Instead, create small, realistic goals that can help you to reach your larger goal of putting in the full allowable amount of £5,760 for 2013/2014.

If you are having difficulty getting yourself to make regular deposits to top off your account, why not consider setting up a standing order from your regular account? You simply select the amount that you want to transfer from your regular account to your cash ISA account and set it up so that the transfer repeats itself every month.

Maximising Your Tax-Free Benefits with the Best ISA Rates for over 50s

Individual savings accounts, or ISAs, are an excellent option for anyone wanting to boost savings. They work in almost the same way as a regular savings account, with the exception that any interest you earn is tax free.

You won’t pay any income tax on the interest you earn. You also won’t pay any capital gains tax on your interest earnings. If your goal is to increase your retirement savings, an ISA could be a great option for you.

Anyone over the age of 16 can open an ISA. However, you’ll find some of the best ISA rates for over 50s are often more attractive than those offered for younger account holders.

Cash ISA or Stocks and Shares ISA

Everyone in the UK has an ISA allowance each year of up to £10,680. However, if you’re depositing funds into a Cash ISA you are limited to a maximum of £5,340, while the remainder of your annual allocation can be invested into a stocks and shares ISA.

Keep in mind that there will be an element of risk with a Stocks and Shares ISA as compared to a Cash ISA. The interest you earn on a Cash ISA may give you a lower return initially, but it’s still a guaranteed return.

By comparison, the returns offered on Stocks and Shares ISAs are highly dependent on fluctuations in the share market. It’s possible the value of the stocks and shares your ISA has invested in could decrease. Of course, if the value of those equities increases, it’s also possible your returns could end up better than those you received on your Cash ISA. It’s important to determine your level of risk aversion and risk tolerance before choosing an ISA to suit your needs.

Deposit Your Allocation Early

If you have the funds available, deposit your entire annual tax-free allocation as early as possible. You’ll earn more interest overall by depositing a lump sum early than you would by depositing smaller amounts throughout the year.

If you wish to continue saving over and above the annual tax-free allocation limit, you can always open a regular savings account and keep your money there. The interest you earn won’t be tax-free in a regular savings account, but you may be able to transfer your cash into an ISA as a lump sum the following year to make the most of any extra money you’ve saved.

Savings Account or Cash ISA?

If you’re comparing the interest rates available, you may notice that some savings accounts offer higher rates than those offered on Cash ISAs. While you may earn a little more interest by putting your money in a regular savings account, you aren’t getting the tax benefits.

By comparison, putting your money into a Cash ISA allows you to take advantage of not paying any tax on the interest you earn. The marginally higher interest rate on a regular savings account may earn you more initially, but don’t forget you’ll be paying tax on any interest earnings.

You can still top up your savings using a regular savings account. Just be sure you’re maximising the tax-free interest you can earn whenever possible.

Regular Contributions

Not everyone has the available cash to deposit the entire annual allocation in a lump sum right away. If you’re still building up your savings and want to take advantage of tax-free interest earnings, you can set up an automated savings plan.

Many banks will let you arrange an electronic direct credit from your regular bank account to your cash ISA. You can nominate how much you want to pay into your savings each week or fortnight to top up your savings balance over time.

If you’re serious about really taking advantage of the best ISA rates for over 50s, you need to spend some time comparing the potential amount of interest you can earn on your savings. Shop around and make sure you’re getting a competitive interest rate on your savings and see if there are ways to maximise the interest you earn on your cash. Work out the tax-free component and compare the different accounts available before making your decision.