As we approach the end of March, people’s thoughts naturally start to turn to the important things about the springtime. Important things like the upcoming start of the new tax year. What’s that? Oh, just me then? As many people from the UK reading this may know, the UK tax year finishes on 5th April. There is therefore a rush on for those who haven’t already done so to maximize what they have put into their ISA for the year to take them up to the ISA limit on UK savings. There then follows a big push to encourage people to take out new ones for the new tax year starting on 6th April.
So with my mind turning away from the imminent pleasures of spring in Brussels, and the upcoming change in the time I decided that I needed to find out a bit more about what the rules were about my ISA’s given my situation working in Brussels. Specifically I wanted to know…
- If I was allowed to continue paying money into my ISA?
- If my ISA allowance that I hadn’t used yet was able to be carried over to be used in Belgium?
- If I was able to open a new ISA for the coming year?
Before I get into this any further I should point out that I am not an accountant or a tax expert. You should not rely on anything I tell you being accurate but check it out for yourself! Everyone’s circumstances are different, and your situation will likely be different to mine.
So after a bit of reading I discovered a few bits and pieces. If you are resident outside the UK then it seems the situation is relatively straightforward.
- You can’t open a new ISA in the UK
- You can’t add any more funds to any ISA’s you already hold
- You can keep the ones you have already, and keep accruing the interest
- You are allowed to transfer an existing ISA to a new provider
If you are only outside the UK on a temporary basis and are still resident in the UK then it’s all business as usual, whatever you did before, you can still do now. This means in a nutshell…
- You have a total allowance of £11280 that you are allowed to invest
- Of this a maximum of £5640 can be in a cash ISA
- Whatever you don’t put in a cash ISA can be put into a Stocks and Shares ISA up to the total
The general idea of an ISA is that it is a method of saving tax-free. Any interest you receive on a cash ISA, or in the case of a stocks and shares one any dividends are free of UK income tax. If you are a standard rate taxpayer this means that you avoid paying 20% of this income to the government. If you are a higher rate taxpayer then you save even more.
A busy time ahead then, sorting out all matters financial for another year. I must admit to being totally ignorant of all matters tax in Belgium itself, so I can’t comment on whether similar schemes exist for Belgian residents. Do you know? Want to share? Let me know in the comments.