LEE BOYCE: Harness the power of Isas to keep the tax man at bay
A decade ago, the push for savers to use up their Isa wrapper before the tax year deadline in early April was in full swing.
For Money Mail, it became an exhausting time of the year as we struggled to bring you news of all the launches and wacky offers.
Banks were climbing on top of each other to offer the best tax-free rates, while the advertising blitz was in full swing: the Isa Isa Baby Halifax ad in 2010 to the tune of the Vanilla Ice rap song Ice Ice Baby is still going strong. an earworm (unfortunately) for me.
Tax haven: this year, the Isa cash rates are back with force. Now they pay up to 4.2%. Early last year, he would have been lucky to pocket 1%
Santander even had a special golf Isa linked to Rory McIlroy winning the US Open. Oh really!
Banks and building societies would go to great lengths in March to attract last-minute cash before the end of the fiscal year, and then do the same in April when the new one rolls around.
All of that stopped in the mid-2010s. While rates on non-tax-exempt accounts plummeted, cash Isas fared even worse.
This is because the smaller providers, the only ones competing for cash savings through easy access and solutions, did not want to worry about the red tape involved in offering Isas.
Some defiant bank bosses I spoke to at the time believed Isa was done with cash, and only wealthy savers needed the tax-free wrapper.
But this year, Isa cash rates are back with a vengeance (see our special Isa withdrawal supplement in today’s paper). Now they pay up to 4.2 percent. At the beginning of last year, you would have been lucky to take 1 percent.
With rates rising, many more savers are likely to face a savings interest tax bill, not just the wealthy. The Isa is back, honey.
And every saver should put them front and center in their financial planning: it’s a golden opportunity to steal money from the tax collector. And as his savings grow (hopefully), he’ll thank you in the future.
In an honest and frank pub chat over the weekend with a friend, who is a successful professional, our conversation turned to the complicated world of pensions.
It turned out that he believed that the money he was saving in his office pension, hovering in the six figures at age 36, would be readily available after retirement age.
The total amount, tax free. When I explained that that’s not exactly how it works, and asked if her pension was just parked in a predetermined fund, she gave me an excited look.
Pensions are vitally important, but most people have a pretty good idea of how they work. It’s worrying. A one-hour session before children leave school, along with a brief refresher organized by an employer every year, should be mandatory.
Meanwhile, an industry-funded pension dashboard, which is meant to show people all their jackpots under one roof, along with state pension predictions, has been delayed again.
For me, this conversation in the pub highlighted that more needs to be done to get workers to commit to their retirement savings – the sooner the better.
Last month when I got a phone call from Mom first thing in the morning, I panicked. It was completely out of the ordinary.
“I have a big problem,” he said. There’s something running through my ceiling and it’s been keeping me up all night.
The way he described it, you would have been left thinking he had found an unexploded World War II bomb in there.
But it turns out that I was right to be worried. As I poked my head into the attic with a flashlight, a gray squirrel stared back at me: the new guest at Mom’s house, happy as Larry.
The pest control folks told us that squirrels have become a much bigger problem this year, and simply put, they can do enormous damage.
We waited for the squirrel to leave and a friendly neighbor climbed up a ladder and nailed down wire mesh to block a small hole between the gutter and the shingles.
Needless to say, the squirrel returned and frantically tried to get back inside. The mesh had done its job and stopped a wave of potential damage.
Keep an eye out for gaps in your ceiling, or you could face a thousands-pound bill from rodents seeking housing.
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