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.