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7 Ways to Win Tax Season This Year (Hint: Open an ISA!)

Tax season is not a beloved season. There are no little crowns to wear. It inspires few family gatherings, and the ones it does would likely be grim affairs. But at Wealthsimple we believe it's a time for celebration. Why? Because it's also Start Doing Money Right season. The perfect excuse to make a few simple, hugely beneficial decisions, and begin to feel a little differently about your financial future.

What's the best single thing you can do before tax day 5th April? Simple. Open an ISA — or contribute as much as possible to the ISA you already have. And if you're wondering why, here are seven very good reasons.

#1: ISAs are excellent for your tax bill

What's an ISA? Well, we're glad you asked, it's one of our favourite things to talk about. An ISA stands for Individual Savings Account and its purpose is to help you save for the future, tax-free.

Why is it such an important tool for building wealth? We're glad you asked that too. Not only is it an excellent way to invest in financial markets and save for retirement. But the money you deposit in an ISA grows tax-free. Yes, we said it: FREE. Your money will grow from now until the time you retire - years of interest and, we hope, investment returns - and everything you earn is 100% yours to keep.

Think of it like income without the income tax — a deal the government doesn't offer very often.

#2: The contribution limits are extremely high

Every year the government decides an annual contribution limit for ISA accounts. The 2019/20 tax year — which ends 5th April —the limit is £20,000. £4,760 more than it was four years ago — a big jump. The contribution room doesn't roll over — once you miss the deadline you won't have the chance to put more money away for this tax year. So if it's possible, you should aim to come as close as you can to hitting the limit. Future you will thank you.

#3: The money in your ISA can be put to work

ISAs are one of the most flexible and personalised ways to put your money to work in the UK. The money you deposit can be deployed in any number of ways, from the conservative, basic savings account or cash ISA to a stocks & shares ISA that can help you take advantage of gains in the market. Or, you can even opt for a mixture of both.

What's the difference? You can sign up for a cash ISA through most of the High Street banks. Cash ISAs provide an annual interest rate ranging anywhere from 0.5% to 1.9%. Here's the catch. With inflation rates at 1.8% in the UK, though, you may end up merely treading water (or even losing ground) by keeping your money in a cash ISA.

A stocks and shares ISA, on the other hand, allows you to participate in the stock market. Your money could go into any number of investments — you could invest every penny in the latest technology stock for instance, or cattle futures, or even a managed fund that invests in classic cars.

Wealthsimple humbly suggests you opt for what we believe is the smartest ISA - one that's automated and invested in a globally diversified portfolio that tracks broad swaths of the market. Diversification has proven historically to be a superior strategy to picking individual stocks. By spreading out your investments (a.k.a. not putting your eggs in one basket) we aim to help you achieve a higher rate of return while taking on less risk; basically making your investment journey as smooth as possible.

#4: It's also available in child size. As in: your child.

Not only can you open and maximise your own ISA, you can also open a Junior ISA (JISA) — an account earmarked to pave the way for your child's future. (And yes, you pronounce the J!). A JISA offers the same tax-free benefits as an ISA, with £9,000 allowed for the 2020/21 tax year. One of the greatest things about a JISA is that it really is for your child. At 18, they'll be able to access the money and in the meantime it can grow bigger and faster because it's not just parents who are allowed to contribute - grandparents, godparents or those generous second uncles twice removed can also chip in.

#5: Start with as little as £1

At Wealthsimple, you don't have to be wealthy to start to build wealth. Start with just £1 and grow your savings through an ISA, JISA or general investing account. Set up recurring monthly contributions and you can build that wealth on a schedule — and avoid the temptation to invest with your emotions whenever the market is climbing or falling.

#6: You never have to claim an ISA on a tax return

If you are one of those -unlucky- lucky people that files a self-assessment tax return every year you know too well the pain of lost HMRC codes in the post or the mile-high stack of receipts on your desk. Here's a nice little benefit of an ISA account: you never have to claim it - or even mention it - on your tax return. Why? Because all gains on ISA accounts are always tax-free.

#7: It's incredibly easy to do

There are certain things we know are good for our over all well-being. Did you do your mindfulness meditation app today? How was your carb intake? And we're sure you're doing a high intensity interval training workout while you read this very article.

At Wealthsimple, our goal is to make things that are good for you also much easier than high intensity interval training. Opening an ISA takes about five minutes.

So sign up or transfer an ISA today.And meanwhile: Happy tax season!

Wealthsimple makes smart investing simple and affordable.

All investing should be considered long-term. While stock markets have typically trended upwards over the long term, your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest.

Wealthsimple uses technology and smart, friendly humans to help you grow and manage your money.

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Margaret Atwood

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