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Forget buy-to-let! I’d invest £20k in UK shares in a Stocks and Shares ISA to make a million

Investing £20k in UK shares after the recent market crash may sound unappealing at a time when buy-to-let investors are benefiting from tax changes. The stamp duty holiday means that property investors can reduce their tax bill when purchasing a buy-to-let property, which may enhance their long-term returns.

However, with many FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 shares offering good value for money, now may be a better time to build a diverse Stocks and Shares ISA. Over time, it could offer a greater prospect of making a million than buy-to-let property.

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Stocks and Shares ISA

Yes, the stamp duty holiday could make buy-to-let property seem more appealing than UK shares. But over the long run, FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 stocks may produce higher after-tax returns. In fact, when they are purchased through a Stocks and Shares ISA, there is no tax to pay on any capital gains, dividends or withdrawals. This may mean that investors can fully partake in the stock market’s likely recovery over the coming years.

By contrast, buy-to-let property is subject to income tax and tax on capital gains. Therefore, even if investors buy a new property now and pay a smaller amount of stamp duty than they otherwise would have done due to the stamp duty holiday, in the long run, their total returns on a net basis may be substantially lower than their gross returns. As such, buy-to-let properties may be less profitable in the coming years than many investors are anticipating.

Bargain UK shares

As well as a more favourable tax situation via a Stocks and Shares ISA, UK shares also appear to offer better value for money than buy-to-let property. Many FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 stocks have not yet recovered from the recent market crash. Therefore, in instances where they have solid balance sheets and sound growth strategies, they appear to offer significant scope for a share price recovery in the coming years. This may equate to strong returns for investors.

Meanwhile, buy-to-let property seems to be experiencing a mini-bubble brought about by the stamp duty holiday and pent-up demand that built up lockdown. This may create short-term growth for the housing market that could be followed by a decline as affordability issues weigh on demand from first-time buyers.

Making a million

As such, now may be the right time to buy UK shares, rather than buy-to-let property, with £20k. Assuming the same annualised return from the FTSE 100 since inception of around 8%, a £20k investment would take around 50 years to become worth over £1m.

That may be a longer period of time than many investors have available, but it could be significantly reduced through buying undervalued stocks. And with buy-to-let property facing an uncertain future, such stocks may provide a faster growth rate than purchasing property.

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Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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