While ISAs are a popular way to save money while avoiding tax, they aren’t your only option. Depending on your needs and the amount of risk you’re willing to take, you’ll find a range of products to suit you.
The ISA is a well-known and popular way of saving money, tax-free. Different types of ISA deliver different benefits and advantages:
The standard cash ISA works like a savings account, except the interest you accumulate isn’t taxed. While you may have easy access to your money in a cash ISA, not all plans have a great rate of interest.
An investment or share ISA allows you to hold stock, such as shares and funds, in your account and allow them to grow tax-free. You need to consider the risk carefully when you choose your shares and bonds, since you’ll want the highest possible returns and lowest risk. It’s a good idea to consult a financial advisor to help make your choice.
There is a limit to the amount of money you can put into an ISA each year (£10,200 for 2010/11). In addition, the capital gains tax means that your money’s tax relief extends to a certain limit (£10,100 for 2010/11). You should consider whether it makes sense to save or invest your money within an ISA wrapper.
There are alternatives to the ISA when it comes to tax free saving and investment:
Venture Capital Trusts
VCTs invest in small firms, often at an early stage of development and listed on the Alternative Investment Market. This is a high-risk investment but offers 30% tax relief on new shares of up to £200,000. You must keep your shares for at least five years or risk losing the tax relief incentive.
Friendly societies allow you to save a small amount of money each year, in monthly payments or as a lump sum, and make tax free savings on that amount. You must keep the plan for a minimum of ten years before reaping the benefits. In recent years, these plans have not performed well in comparison to the stock market.
Investments you make offshore deliver many opportunities for tax deferral or even avoidance. While the money you make might outperform domestic investments be aware that your gains is liable to tax in Britain should you choose to move funds back to the UK. If you’re able to co-ordinate how long you will be out of the country, you could stand to enhance your savings significantly. Be aware however, this strategy comes with a complicated set of legal restrictions which must be strictly observed