New tax year for the Help to Buy ISA


April sees the start of a new tax year, and the first fresh year for the Help to Buy ISA.

The ISA offers people the chance to get a government boost to their savings by as much as £3,000 when purchasing a home for the first time.

Although the scheme was brought into use in December of 2015, the restrictive nature of an ISA meant that many people would not have been able to open a Help to Buy ISA, had they already paid into cash ISAs for that tax year.

However, these restrictions have now reset, and people will be able to open up the mortgage scheme ISA if they want to.

The ISA can have up to £200 per month paid into it, in addition to the starting deposit of up to £1,000. These savings can then be topped up by 25 per cent, up to a maximum of £3,000, by the government when the ISA is cashed in to buy a first property.

However, chancellor George Osborne announced a Lifetime ISA, which will become available in 2017. This alternative ISA works in a similar way, with a 25% bonus when you go to buy a house, but the maximum amount you can save is higher, and it also has a higher maximum bonus. It is also geared towards people saving up for retirement, and applicants have to be aged between 18 and 39.

Although the Lifetime ISA offers better savings, Which? still recommend opening a Help to Buy ISA for this new tax year, as the cash will be able to be transferred over to a new Lifetime ISA next year.

Although these ISAs sound very good, it is important to remember that they are there to be used to help you purchase a house. Cashing in the ISAs for other purposes can come with hefty fines and charges, pushing the focus at first time buyers getting their feet on the property ladder.

The Help to Buy ISA is available from many high street banks, with Santander and Halifax reportedly offering 4% interest through the scheme. Virgin Money offers 3%, Barclays offer 2.27%, while Lloyds, HSBC and Nationwide offer 2%.

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