In the U.K. you can earn £1,000 of interest without paying tax if you are a standard rate taxpayer. The allowance drops to £500 for those paying the 40% tax rate, and disappears completely for the fat cats paying 45% tax.
If you earn below the tax threshold, you don’t pay tax on interest over the £1,000 personal savings allowance, so long at your income plus the excess interest don’t exceed your personal tax allowance.
In recent years it’s been quite hard for most people to receive more than £1,000 of interest. But with increasing savings interest rates it’s not that hard to exceed it, if you have a reasonable amount of savings. If you put £20,000 in a 6% bond, that’s £1,200 of interest, and you’ll be taxed at 20% on the £200. If you are a 40% tax payer, you’ll be taxed at 40% on £700.
With tax thresholds frozen, more and more people will start to pay tax, and more will move from 20% to 40%.
It’s also worth noting that NS&I changed the way they pay the interest on fixed rate bonds. Until a few years ago they paid the interest every year. Now they pay it all at the end, which means it’s a much bigger lump and therefore much more likely to exceed the allowance.
With low interest rates, ISAs fell from favour and weren’t that useful to most people. But now, with higher savings rates, they are very much back on the agenda. I’ve discovered this week that Nationwide run their cash ISA as a portfolio ISA, which means that you can put some in easy access and some in fixed rate, within the same year. This is something we are now taking advantage of.
Mrs HH and I have been going through our savings in the last couple of days, which prompted me to post this in case anyone finds it helpful. Forgive me if you already know all this, but it’s surprising how some people are totally unaware of this stuff, but a little time and effort can save you quite a bit of money.