The Full English Accompaniment – Playing fair when maximising your ISA allowance

What’s piqued my interest this week?

It’s that time of the year, and for the first time in a long time I’m looking at dipping my toe in the ISA waters, that generous government tax-sweetener (1). Sensible investors of course maximise their ISA allowance at the start of the tax year (for time in the market), but I’m only just reaching a point where I can start thinking about it.

So I have my £20,000 allowance ahead of me. How do I use it? Well according to some denizens of the internet I should max out all of my lines of credit and fill up my ISA pots. This would potentially maximise my allowance, and ensure I don’t regret losing it in the future. I could do this by stoozing, taking out a new 0% interest credit card and bunging it all in an ISA (2). I’m loath to do this for three reasons. The best cash ISAs are currently providing 1.77% interest (or 1.95% if two year fixed), which on £10k borrowed is a measly £177 (3). I lack the kahunas to leverage £10k on credit cards into a S&S ISA in the current market. We’re also due to remortgage soon and I’m trying to minimise my credit utilisation.

If not stoozing then perhaps using a flexible ISA to at least fill my allowance before paying it all back next month (4). This would be a pretty weird use of the flexibility, and I’m not sure how well it sits with me. The main premise of a flexible ISA is that you can take money out and as long as you replace it within the tax year it doesn’t effect your allowance; i.e. Put in £5k, leaving £15k allowance, withdraw £2.5k and you go down to £17.5k allowance (5, 6). So far so simple, but it gets a bit more complicated when you start adding in previous tax year allowances. Money withdrawn comes first from the current years allowance, and then previous years. Money replaced first replenishes previous years and then the current year’s allowance (7). Also worth noting Innovative Finance ISAs and cash within a S&S ISA can be flexible, but not any element in a S&S ISA that is not cash. MSE’s guidance on this is pretty excellent (7).

In my situation I could therefore use £20k of credit to fill up this years allowance on the 5th of April, before paying back my creditors on the 6th of April and leaving myself with £40k to fill for the next tax year. I’m not going to do it because I don’t think I’ll fill my £20k allowance next year, never mind £40k. It also feels a bit morally like bed and breakfasting, the act of selling and repurchasing shares on the same-day to play CGT, which is a naughty tax no-no (8). My suspicion is that the actual number of people in this position is so low that nobody at HMRC really cares. Bed & ISA-ing is a separate proper thing which is recommended, because the repurchase into the ISA counts as being in a different capacity and therefore it’s not B&Bing (9, 10, 11).

Other sources point to portfolio cash ISAs, with a bit in S&S and a bit in cash in separate pots under once umbrella, just to make the waters more muddy (12). There’s also recommendations to use a flexible ISA as a sort of tax store, where you take it out of your 1% instant access ISA account at the start of the tax year, bung it somewhere it can earn more interest, and then put it back in at the end of the tax year to keep the allowance (13). This makes it ‘work harder’, but seems absolutely bonkers to me as surely any interest is taxable and therefore negates the point of having a bloody ISA. It’s all a bit of a minefield of suggestions, and you’ll have to wait until the end of the month to find out what I actually did. Hint: it’s very boring.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.






5 thoughts on “The Full English Accompaniment – Playing fair when maximising your ISA allowance

  1. Regarding your final paragraph, don’t forget the personal savings allowance! If you’re a basic rate tax payer, you can earn £1,000 in interest tax free, whereas a higher rate tax payer can earn £500. In this instance, doing what you said – filling the ISA allowance initially, but then taking it back out and putting it into high interest rate current accounts for the year, and then sticking it back into the ISA – makes some sense. Seems like a lot of effort to me though.

    I personally just put what I can into my Vanguard Stocks and Shares ISA each month, and also stick £4,000 per year into a Lifetime ISA, for an eventual house purchase. I’m a fan of keeping it easy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, though I assumed if you’re the sort of person to have £20k to put into an ISA you’re probably a higher rate taxpayer. A decent emergency fund held in high interest accounts will also chomp through that allowance pretty quickly. All about personal circumstances once again!


  2. Keep it simple FIRE Shrink. Put what you can afford to in to your ISA and leave it. The more decision and action points you have, the more likely you are to make a mistake, however trivial.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have no fear, I said what I’ve done is very boring. It is; I’ve done exactly what you’ve said. Completely agree there’s no point in making it unnecessarily complicated.


  3. I’ve only ever filled in ISA once before and that was with the help of my redundancy money! I’m nowhere near filling it this year though will try to put in as much as I can before the tax year.

    Glad you kept it simple in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

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