Following last month’s speech by the Chancellor, George Osbourne, we give our 60 second guide to the Budget for ISA savers, offering a quick round up of the main changes and what this will mean for both cash savers and investors alike.
Your ISA Allowance
While Chancellor George Osborne may have taken the decision to maintain the Individual Savings Account (ISA) Allowance at £15,240 for this new tax year (2016/17), the chancellor also announced that from 6th April 2017, it will see a significant increase of £4,760 giving savers and investors a total allowance of £20,000 to spread between their ISA accounts over the 2017/18 tax year. The Junior ISA limit will remain at its current rate of £4,080.
Innovative Finance ISA
The recent Budget also introduced a new type of ISA which has launched for this current tax year. Announced in the Summer Budget of 2015, this has fallen slightly under the radar for many but this new savings option, entitled the ‘Innovative Finance ISA’, is designed to provide a tax-free wrapper for investors in Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P). This ISA allows individuals to lend to others by using Peer to Peer Lending platforms but without paying tax on the interest they earn.
As this is a new distinct category of ISA, savers can open an IFISA along with a Cash ISA and a Stocks and Shares ISA (or Investment ISA), all within the same tax year – so any contributions into this type of ISA does count towards the £15,240 current tax year allowance. Although at present there are only a small number of P2P providers who have been authorised to offer their products within an ISA, there are a significant number who are awaiting authorisation. The area of P2P lending has seen significant growth in recent years and there will be more to follow on this later in the year…
Possibly one of the biggest headlines for this year’s budget was the announcement by Mr Osborne of another kind of ISA which will launch in April 2017 – the Lifetime ISA. The Lifetime ISA will allow individuals aged between 18 and 40 to simultaneously save for both the purchase of their first home and their retirement. The ISA will work similarly to the current Help to Buy ISA, in that savers will be granted a 25% bonus on their contributions when used to purchase all, or part, of a new home (up to a maximum property value of £450,000 nationwide), with a maximum annual contribution limit of £4,000.
However, savers will not be limited in how much they can contribute each month and in addition to this, money withdrawn after the account holder’s 60th birthday will also enjoy the same bonus and can be used for any means. Savers will be able to receive their bonus on contributions made up until their 50th birthday, leaving the possibility to make a maximum individual contribution of £128,000 which would be matched by the government to a value of £32,000. Partial withdrawals from the account for other uses before the age of 60 will be allowed but will not benefit from the bonus or any interest upon it and incur a 5% charge.
Help to Buy ISA
With much of its function being replicated with the new Lifetime ISA, it was also announced that Help to Buy ISAs will be made unavailable to new savers from the 30th November 2019. Savers who opened a Help to Buy ISA before this date will be able to keep saving into the account, but they must claim the bonus by 1st December 2030. However savers waiting for the Lifetime ISA to launch should be aware that it is possible to open a Help to Buy ISA and then merge it with a Lifetime ISA when it launches in April next year. It is also possible to have both a Help to Buy ISA and a Lifetime ISA but individuals will only be able to benefit from one of the bonus payments when used to purchase a property.
Helping savers plan for the future
All in all this was a good budget for ISA savers, but we must not also overlook the significant reforms which have taken place since the New ISA (NISA) was introduced in April 2014 and which remain unchanged, including:
- Increased flexibility – savers can divide their ISA allowance between Cash ISA and Stocks and Shares ISAs in whatever proportion they wish, especially welcome news for those who want to use their entire ISA allowance for cash savings which had been previously capped.
- Increased ISA transfer potential – savers can transfer from a Stocks and Shares ISA to a Cash ISA, or the other way around. Previously, transfers from Stocks and Shares ISAs to Cash ISA were not permitted.
- Tax-free interest in Stocks and Shares ISAs – interest is now earned tax free in a Stocks and Shares ISA whereas previously, with the exception of a Cash ISA, any cash held within the Stocks and Shares element of an ISA was subject to a 20% charge on the interest earned – paid to HMRC.
- Withdrawals permitted – since last year savers may now withdraw and replace money in the same tax year, without it counting towards their annual ISA allowance provided that it is paid back in to the account by the end of the financial year in which the withdrawal is made. Previously money taken out of an ISA lost its tax free status, meaning that additional payments would count towards your allowance for that year.
- Junior ISA flexibility – those who have taken out a Child Trust Fund (CTF) for their child are now permitted to convert the fund into a Junior ISA.
- Passing on an ISA allowance – married couples can pass an extra ISA allowance, equal to the value of their ISA savings on death, to their surviving spouse. This means that couples can now pass the ISA tax breaks to each other however, passing the ISA tax status from parent’s to children is still not permitted. When the surviving partner dies, they will continue to fall inside the family estate for inheritance tax purposes.
Combined, these ISA reforms give savers every opportunity to plan for the future, regardless of their stage of life.
Fair Investment View
Commenting on the Budget, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investment at Fair Investment Company Limited said: “Along with the changes made to existing rules surrounding ISAs in the last two years, the 2016 Budget’s announcement of several new types of Individual Savings Account means that individuals may now utilise their personal ISA allowance with far greater flexibility than ever before, spreading their allowance between a variety of savings and investment plans to meet their needs.”
He continued: “But perhaps the most significant move is the increase to a £20,000 ISA allowance in 2017. Remember that just 2 years ago, the allowance stood at just £11,880, with a boost from 1st July of that year to £15,000. This recent announcement sees the limit rise from £11,880 on 6th April 2014 to £20,000 on 6th April 2017, a rise of £8,120 in just 3 years. This means that a couple could save up to £30,480 during this current tax year, increasing to £40,000 from 6th April next year, offering the potential to accrue considerable sums within their ISA accounts in a relatively small timeframe. Good news indeed for savers.”
For more information, see some of our most popular ISA pages below:
No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular plan. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular product, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice. Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.