If you open a Stocks and Shares ISA, any returns you make will be shielded from the taxman. So is it a good idea to invest in one? Let’s take a look.
Why do Stocks and Shares ISAs exist?
Anything you put into an ISA is tax free, so you won’t have to pay HMRC any dividend, income or capital gains tax on your profits. See our guide on capital gains tax and shares for more information.
The amount you can put into a Stocks and Shares ISA is limited. For the 2021/22 tax year – which runs from 6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022 – the ISA allowance is £20,000.
It’s worth knowing that some Stocks and Shares ISAs are flexible, meaning that anything you take out can be replaced without affecting your annual allowance. If you do this, ensure you replace the cash within the same tax year.
For the full lowdown, read our full Stocks and Shares ISA guide.
Is it worth opening a Stocks and Shares ISA?
If you are looking to invest, opening a Stocks and Shares ISA should probably be your first port of call.
They aren’t any costlier than normal investing products and provide the obvious advantage of enabling you to access your profits tax free.
This may be useful if a future government decides to increase capital gains taxes – also known as ‘wealth taxes’. It’s also worth noting that a future government could tweak ISA access rules, though it’s less likely.
The advantages of Stocks and Shares ISAs
Aside from sheltering your savings from the taxman, there are other advantages to having a Stocks and Shares ISA.
1. You can hold liquid products in a Stocks and Shares ISA
This may not be the case with some pension products, for example, where your cash may be locked away.
2. You can save 25% of your pension tax free
This means you can increase the amount of income you earn without being pushed into a higher tax band. Remember, whether you can take your pension early depends on your pension’s rules. For more on this, see our article on whether you can cash in your pension before you hit 55.
3. You can hold other ISA products too
While you can’t add money to different ISAs in a single tax year, holding a Stocks and Shares ISA doesn’t stop you from having other ISA products, such as a Cash ISA.
You can also transfer money from previous years’ ISA holdings as long as you follow the ISA transfer rules.
Stocks and Shares ISAs: What to be aware of
While the tax benefits of Stocks and Shares ISAs are obvious, it’s also worth bearing in mind the following:
1. There’s a risk of losing cash
There’s always a chance of losses, whether you’re investing within a tax-free wrapper or not. To minimise the risk, plan to invest for the long-term.
2. Costs apply
Costs associated with this type of ISA may include provider management costs, fund ownership charges and dealing fees.
How do I open a Stocks and Shares ISA?
Retail banks and a number of online brokers all offer this type of ISA. To help you identify the right one for your needs, check out our Stocks and Shares ISAs page.
If you’re new to investing, it’s also a good idea to read our guide on the basics of investing.