A Stocks and shares ISA is a ‘wrapper’ that can be put around a wide range of different investment products to help mitigate tax.
Types of investment
Lots of different types of investment can be held in an ISA, including:
- Unit trusts
- OEICs (Open Ended Investment Companies)
- Investment trusts
- Exchange traded funds
- Corporate and government bonds, and
- Individual stocks and shares
You’ll often find that Stocks and shares ISAs are sold and marketed as products in their own right
How Stocks and shares ISAs work
Your allowance is how much you can pay in, not the total value of your investments – so if you put your whole allowance in a Stocks and shares ISA and it falls in value you can’t top it up in the same tax year.
You can pay a total of £11,880 in 2014/2015 into ISAs until 1 July when it rises to £15,000. This is your ISA allowance and includes both your Stocks and shares ISA and your Cash ISA.
- You can pay your whole allowance of £11,880 into a Stocks and shares ISA.
- Alternatively, you can pay up to £5,940 into a Cash ISA and the remainder into a stocks and shares ISA.
- From 1 July 2014, Cash ISAs and Stocks and shares ISAs are to be merged into a new single NISA, with a much higher limit of £15,000 per year.
- Your yearly ISA allowance expires at the end of the tax year and any unused allowance will be lost. It can’t be rolled over to the following year.
- You can choose between making a lump sum investment and/or making regular or ad hoc contributions throughout the tax year.
- Any increase in value of the investments in your Stocks and shares ISA is free of Capital Gains Tax.
- Apart from dividend income (paid with 10% tax already deducted which can’t be reclaimed), the rest of the income is tax-free – find out more in the later section on tax.
- You can only pay into one Stocks and shares ISA in each tax year, but you can open a new ISA with a different provider each year if you want to. You don’t have to use the same provider for your Cash ISA, if you have one.
It’s worth shopping around to make sure you find an ISA that suits you. Compare any charges for the ISA wrapper and the range of investments you can put inside.
Levels and bases of reliefs from taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount invested. These investments do not include the same secuirty of capital which is afforded with a deposit account.