Listen to our experts answer some commonly asked questions about transferring from a Help to Buy ISA to a Lifetime ISA.
Hello my name’s Danny Cox. Today we’re going to be answering some common questions we’ve been getting about transferring Help to Buy ISAs to a Lifetime ISA and I’m joined by Jess Miller. Hi Jess.
Jess, is it possible to have a Help to Buy ISA and a Lifetime ISA running side by side?
Yes absolutely. You can have both a Help to Buy ISA and Lifetime ISA running alongside but you can only use the bonus from one to purchase a property. So, if you’ve got a Help to Buy ISA and are considering opening a Lifetime ISA, you might also want to think about transferring across anything already saved in a Help to Buy ISA.
Okay great. So I can actually pay into both a Help to Buy ISA and a Lifetime ISA at the same time?
Yes, that’s right.
OK, so, in terms of the Help to Buy transfer I’ve been hearing about a 12 month window. What does that 12 month window actually relate to?
OK. So this 12 month window - it’s probably a bit longer but do stick with this – so what the 12 month window is all about is maximising the bonus on Help to Buy and Lifetime ISA savings. So as mentioned previously, you can have both of the products running alongside each other but you can only use the bonus from one to purchase a property. So, you can transfer a Help to Buy ISA to a Lifetime ISA, and as long as the transfer completes before the 6th April next year it won’t count towards this year’s £4,000 annual Lifetime ISA allowance. So it’s worth noting that the amount you can transfer that qualifies for this is based on the value of the Help to Buy ISA on the 5th April 2017 plus any interest earned since then.
Can you give us an example, Jess?
Sure, it probably helps to put it into context. If you had a Help to Buy ISA worth £4,000 on the 5th of April, you could transfer it to a Lifetime ISA and still contribute up to £4,000 this tax year to the Lifetime ISA and you’d actually get a 25% bonus from the government on the full £8,000 - that would be equivalent to £2,000. So this is the 12 month window that is commonly referred to. After that, if you transfer after the 5th of April 2018, the value of the transfer will count towards the £4,000 annual Lifetime ISA allowance.
OK Jess, so when is the best time to transfer a Help to Buy ISA?
So there is no best time as such but there are definitely a couple of things to bear in mind. A Lifetime ISA must be opened for at least 12 months before any bonus can be put towards a property purchase. So if you transfer, and haven’t opened a Lifetime ISA already, the 12 months won’t start until the transfer completes. So in this instance you could make a subscription to the Lifetime ISA to get that 12 month clock ticking. Also, if you’re looking to buy a first time property in the next 12 months, the Lifetime ISA may not be suitable for you for that reason. Secondly, and as we’ve spoken about, if you do want to maximise the potential bonus, the transfer needs to complete before the 6th of April 2018.
When are bonuses going to be paid?
That’s a good question - particularly because it is slightly different for this first tax year. The first bonus, which will cover any Lifetime ISA payments made this tax year, will be paid into the Lifetime ISA between the 20th April and the 4th May 2018. After that bonuses will be paid within 4 to 9 weeks of each subscription.
Okay, and how can I transfer a Help to Buy ISA to a Hargreaves Lansdown Lifetime ISA?
The good news is that it’s really easy. There’s just a one page form to fill in which you can download from our website, and I think the link’s below this podcast [Editor’s note: the link is above]. Once we receive the transfer form, we’ll look after the rest of the transfer for you, and let you know once the transfer has completed.
Great, thanks Jess, thanks very much for those answers, that’s really helpful. If you have any other questions about transferring Help to Buy ISAs there’s much more information on our website as there is more information about Lifetime ISAs and ISAs generally.
Now there are a few points that I must go through. Firstly, tax rules do change and their benefits and value do depend upon your circumstances. The Hargreaves Lansdown Lifetime ISA is a stocks and shares ISA and therefore investments do go down as well as up and you could get back less than you invest. That’s different from a Help to Buy ISA which is a cash ISA. It’s also important to note that you can’t use your bonus from your Lifetime ISA to buy property within the first 12 months of taking out a Lifetime ISA. Thank you for listening.