This article will discuss what are LISAs – Lifetime ISAs?
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The UK attracts not only tourists, but also potential emigrants. But not everyone has a chance to come to the country and personally find out all the details before moving.
Living in the UK has advantages and disadvantages. A high level of education, health care, salaries and the opportunity to develop attract foreigners.
The UK is one of the oldest countries in the world. Almost every city in the UK has many attractions that are interesting to visit at least once. Salaries in the UK depend on education, experience, specialty, demand for the profession, place of work, its location.
In the latest survey of expatriates, the UK ranks second in the world when it comes to job opportunities, with 49% of expatriates surveyed agreeing, even with the looming consequences of Brexit. The average salary for an expat in London is currently $107,863 compared to the global average of $99,903.
While a large income is certainly an incentive, note that London is also known for its high cost of living. Even with high salaries, it is likely that the majority of millennial expats working in London (52% according to the survey) share housing to minimize costs.
As with any city with a large expatriate population, there are areas in London where a three-bedroom house or apartment comes at a hefty price, especially if you have a family. Add to that the cost of school fees, health care, especially family health insurance, and transportation and utilities, and things can add up. Find out from the start how much you need for daily expenses.
Once you’ve settled into your new life, getting to know your new hometown can be a real adventure. On a positive note, it’s easy to soak up the London lifestyle in small steps when it’s right outside your doorstep. There are plenty of things to see and do in many parts of London without emptying your wallet. There are parks, free museum days, festivals and events for expats to meet many friendly people and expand their network. London’s gastronomic scene is also famous, from Asian dishes to Middle Eastern and African cuisine in five-star restaurants and delicious street shops.
Not surprisingly, many of those who began life in London as expats eventually became locals themselves. It is easy for many to assimilate, even if English is not their first language, as people of all nationalities live in London. Later in this article we will mainly discuss one of the products cultivated by the UK government – called Lifetime ISA, for those who want to save for their retirement, or for other goals such as buying a house in the country. Let’s see what it is, and how you can use it.
Lifetime ISAs (LISAs) Overview
Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a product designed by the UK government to help you buy your first home or save for retirement.
With Lifetime ISA you can pay up to £4,000 a year and receive a 25% government bonus on all savings. This means that for every £4 you save, you get £1 free. If you pay a maximum of £4,000, you will receive a £1,000 bonus. Over time, these bonuses can give you a real head start.
A government penalty of 25% applies if you withdraw money from a lifetime ISA for any reason other than buying your first home (up to £450,000) or retirement. Your account must also be open for 12 months before you can withdraw money without penalty for buying a house. LISA is considered “open” once you have made your first deposit.
Lifetime ISAs were first presented in 2017, which allows people from 18 to 40 years to save for their first home or retirement. It is one of the five types of ISA currently available, along with the Cash ISA, Stock and Equity ISA, Junior ISA, and Innovative Finance ISA.
Adults may pay part or all of their annual £20,000 ISA benefit (for tax year 2022-23) on one of each type each tax year, including up to £4,000 under Lifetime ISA.
What is a lifetime ISA?
Lifetime ISA is a government-supported savings program that helps you save for your first home, retirement, or both. You can invest your money in a lifetime ISA in cash or stocks and shares.
You can save up to £4,000 a year on Lifetime ISA and the government will reward you with a 25% bonus on the amount you paid, adding up to £1,000 extra. Each tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 of the following year.
You can only open one between the ages of 18 and 40, though you can pay and still get extra government money until you’re 50. You can access the money whenever you want, but only get a bonus if you use the cash either to buy your first home or to take it back after you turn 60. If you withdraw money for any other reason, you lose 25% as the government takes their money back plus a little more.
Lifetime ISA Rules Explained: Key points
- You can set aside up to £4,000 annually for a lifetime ISA, subject to contributions to other types of ISA. Your total annual ISA benefit limit, including your lifetime ISA, is £20,000.
- You receive a government bonus of 25% of your savings if you use the money to buy your first home or pay your pension (from age 60). For every £4 you save, the government will add a bonus of £1, up to a maximum of £1,000 per year.
- Withdrawals not related to buying a home for the first time or retiring after you turn 60 will be subject to a 25% withdrawal fee, which means you can get back less than you paid at
- Your lifetime ISA must be open for 12 months before it can be used to purchase your first home or it will be subject to a 25% withdrawal fee.
- Lifetime ISAs can be held in cash or invested in stocks. Stocks and equities generally provide more upside potential in the long run, but they also carry more risk that the value of your investment may fall.
- You can transfer to a lifetime ISA from a cash ISA, shares and shares of an ISA or an adult children’s trust – as long as the value is £4,000 or less. The same applies to those under the age of 40 who are assisted in purchasing an ISA.
How does the bonus work?
HMRC now calculates bonus payouts on a monthly basis. Any bonus is calculated based on the payments you make to your account between the 6th of the month and the 5th of the following month.
But it is recommended to check with your provider as some of them may treat bonus payouts differently. Some will automatically reinvest bonus payouts, taking advantage of any potential growth and value appreciation. While others may put your money into interest free cash accounts. This means that you may be missing out on interest or the future potential growth of your invested fund.
For example, before interest accrues, if you pay £4,000 within the first year, your balance will increase to £5,000 with a 25% bonus. Then you receive interest or have the opportunity to receive an increase in investments for the entire amount. If you add another £4,000 next year, you will receive another £1,000 as a bonus, bringing your total savings to £10,000.
If you only pay £3,000 during the year, you will receive a £750 bonus when you increase your balance to £3,750 before interest or investment increases.
You can continue to pay £4,000 a year and earn a bonus until the day you turn 50. After that, you can leave the money in your account and continue to receive interest or receive investment growth.
To qualify for a lifetime ISA, you need to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be under 40
- Be a UK resident (or a member of the armed forces abroad or the spouse/civil partner of one of them)
The rules are strict about what constitutes a first buyer: if you inherited a property, didn’t live in it, and immediately sold it, it still counts as owning it. The same is true if you owned a business or a trust that owned residential property in which you could live. ISA is a great way to save or invest, no matter what your financial goals are.
How to use Lifetime ISA for new customers
You can withdraw all or part of your Lifetime ISA balance when you purchase your first home, but there are a few important things to consider:
- You will need to keep funds in the account for at least 12 months before buying your first home.
- The house you buy must be designed for you to live in – you cannot rent it out.
- The property you are buying must be valued at £450,000 or less and you will need to use a mortgage as well as your lifetime ISA.
- The property must be in the UK.
How to use Lifetime ISA for retirement
After your 60th birthday, you can withdraw some or all of your savings without paying taxes or penalties. Tax credits depend on your individual circumstances and may change in the future.
- If you are self-employed, you can use a lifetime ISA instead of a corporate pension. The Lifetime ISA does not provide the same benefits as a pension, but can be a useful way to add to your savings before retirement.
- If you already have savings or are unsure if a pension or a lifetime ISA is right for you, it may be worth talking to an independent financial advisor.
Buying your first home with LISAs
You can use your savings to buy your first home if all of the following conditions are met:
- property worth £450,000 or less
- you buy property at least 12 months after making the first payment in Lifetime ISA
- you use a carrier or attorney to act on your behalf in the purchase – the ISA provider will pay the funds directly to them
- you buy with a mortgage
Buying with someone else
If the person you are buying with has a lifetime ISA, they can also use their savings and government bonus.
They will pay a 25% withdrawal fee to use their Lifetime ISA savings if they own or have a legitimate interest in the property (for example, they are the beneficiary of a trust that includes the property).
If you have a lifetime ISA and a Help to Buy ISA, you can only use the government bonus from one of them to buy your first home.
You can also transfer the money from Help to Buy ISA to Lifetime ISA. If you transfer money from Lifetime ISA to Help to Buy ISA, you will have to pay a 25% withdrawal fee.
What is Help to Buy ISA?
ISA Help to Buy was the predecessor to LISA and is no longer available to new depositors after November 30, 2019.
If you already have it, you can keep saving until November 30, 2029 and receive your bonus until December 1, 2030.
This is help in buying ISA rules:
- You save up to £200 a month on your first home
- The government adds a 25% bonus on what you save up to £3,000.
- You only receive the bonus if you use the money as a deposit for your first home up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 in London.
Keep in mind that this is different from lifetime ISAs, which can be used to buy homes up to £450,000 wherever you buy in the country.
Saving for later life
You can withdraw your savings from Lifetime ISA when you turn 60 or older. You will pay a fee of 25% if you withdraw money or transfer a lifetime ISA to another type of ISA before the age of 60.
If you die, your lifetime ISA ends on the day you die. There is no fee for withdrawing funds or assets from your account. Lifetime ISA is one way to save for a future life.
What is the difference between ISA and lifetime ISA?
In addition to what you can use LISA money for, there are a number of other differences between a lifetime ISA and a regular ISA. This includes:
The amount of money you can deposit
- The maximum you can save in LISA in the current tax year is £4,000, while you can save up to £20,000 on regular money or ISA stocks and shares.
- Also remember that the money you put aside in your lifetime ISA counts towards your £20,000 annual ISA benefit. In other words, if you make the most of your LISA, you have £16,000 left to distribute to your other ISAs.
- A government bonus of 25% is added to your LISA savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 per tax year.
- Regular ISAs do not provide a bonus.
The age restrictions
- You must be over 18 and under 40 to open a LISA, while you can open a regular ISA at any age over 18. There is a junior equivalent of the ISA if you want to open it for a child.
- After age 50, you cannot make payments into lifetime ISAs or receive a bonus. This is different from regular ISAs, which you can continue to pay into at any age.
- You can only withdraw money from a lifetime ISA at age 60. With shares and ISA shares, you can usually withdraw money at any time, unless you are tied to a fixed deal.
The reasons to withdraw
- With a regular ISA, you can withdraw money and use it however you like.
- But with a lifetime ISA, you must use the money to either buy your first home or for your retirement.
Can an individual have both LISA and ISA for stocks and shares?
Yes, they can have both. They can pay into one of the available types of ISA as long as you do not exceed the £4,000 ISA lifetime benefit and the £20,000 maximum total ISA benefit.
They also don’t have to pay two ISAs of the same type during a tax year. For example, they cannot pay in two cash ISAs in the same tax year.
Here is an example of how you can split your ISA benefit in a tax year:
- Invest a maximum of £4,000 in a lifetime ISA
- Deposit £11,000 in ISA shares and shares
- And use the remaining £5,000 ISA allowance in ISA cash.
Should you choose cash or shares and shares for a lifetime ISA?
Which LISA you choose depends on:
- How are you going to use LISA
- Your deadline
Buying property in the next few years? It might be worth getting LISA cash because any short term losses will be blocked if you need to access your money when the market is down.
If you don’t plan on buying in the next five years, then LISA shares and shares might be more reasonable. Even if you open a lifetime ISA at 39, you have 21 years to grow your money.
How to open a lifetime ISA?
While anyone can give you money to invest in your LISA, only you can open it. You can do this with a bank, building society, or investment manager who offers the product.
Once you have decided whether you want to open a lifetime ISA for cash or stocks and shares, you need to look at the best provider.
If you’re looking for ready-made stocks and LISA stocks, check out our best deals here. If you want to be more practical with your investments, we’ve rounded up the best here.
You need to contact the provider directly to open an account. This is usually easier to do online. They will ask you to provide personal details to make sure you are eligible to open an account:
- Your name and date of birth
- National insurance number
- Verification of your address and identity
You can own more than one LISA, although you can only pay in one and receive a bonus each tax year. You must make your first payment into your lifetime ISA before you turn 40.
How to use LISA to buy a house?
If you are using your ISA Lifetime money to buy a home, there are rules you must follow:
- You must be the first buyer
- The home you are buying must be valued at less than £450,000.
- This should be the home you plan to live in, not a rental or vacation home.
- You need to take out a traditional repayment mortgage, not be a cash buyer
- You must make your first payment to LISA 12 months before you can buy a home.
- You can use LISA along with other schemes such as:
- Help buy a loan
- Joint ownership
- Right to buy
- Lifetime ISAs can be combined together if you are buying a house with someone else
- If only one of you meets the eligibility criteria, then only that person can use the lifetime ISA.
The rules for how you can use your lifetime ISA to buy a house are also quite specific:
- The money in the account, including the bonus, is transferred from the provider to your carrier or attorney, and not directly to you.
- You must request this from your lifetime ISA provider.
- The purchase of real estate must be made within 90 days from the moment the money is debited from your account.
- If the sale does not go through, all your money will be returned to your LISA. You will not lose money and this will not affect your £4,000 benefit.
Note that you can ask your lawyer to write to HMRC to get an extension if the process could take more than 90 days.
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