WHAT IS A JUNIOR ISA? In simple terms, Junior ISAs are long-term, tax-free savings accounts meant for young children.
Note: There is an upper savings limit on a child ISA account. The Junior ISA limit is £9,000 for the UK tax year 2022 to 2023.
Junior ISA Eligibility Rules
To qualify for the children’s version of Individual Savings Accounts the child must be:
- Younger than 18 years old and living in the United Kingdom.
What happens if the child lives outside of the United Kingdom? In this case, both of these rules must apply for your child to qualify for a Junior ISA:
- You are a Crown servant (e.g. serving in the UK Armed Forces, or deployed on diplomatic service or overseas civil service).
- You are responsible for the child (i.e. they are dependent on you for their care).
Note: Junior ISA rules do not allow the policy holder to have a Child Trust Fund at the same time. Thus, ask the CTF provider to transfer the funds if you want to open a Junior Individual Savings Account.
How a Junior ISA Works
There are two (2) different types of Junior Individual Savings Accounts. A child can have one or they can have both types of Junior ISA:
- A cash Junior ISA (e.g. no tax on children’s savings is liable on the interest made on the cash saved).
- A stocks and shares Junior ISA (e.g. cash gets invested for you and no tax is liable on any capital growth or dividends received).
A parent or a guardian (with parental responsibility) can open a Junior ISA and manage the account. The money ‘officially’ belongs to the child and they can control or manage the account when they get to 16. But, they cannot withdraw from the fund until they reach 18 years old.
How to Open a Junior ISA Account
The parents or a guardian must have parental responsibility to open an ISA for a child under 16 years old. To do so, follow these three steps:
- Decide which type of Junior ISA you want for your child. It can either be cash, stocks and shares, or it can be one of each (but not more).
- Search for an account provider and choose one to open the account for you.
- Ask the provider for an application form and fill it in.
Note: Children can open their own Junior ISA while they are 16 or 17 years old. Once they get to this age, they can also open an adult cash ISA at the same time.
Child ISA Account Providers
Junior ISAs are available at almost all banks and building societies. You can also get them at credit unions, some friendly societies, and through stock brokers. Contact any of them to get further information.
Adding Money to a Junior ISA Account
Junior ISA rules allow anyone to put money into the fund for the child. But, the total amount that gets paid in must not go over £9,000 during the current tax year (2022/2023).
An Example: A child has £2,000 paid into their cash Junior ISA between the 6th of April and the 5th of April in the following year.
Thus, £7,000 is the most that could get paid into their stocks and shares Junior ISA during the same tax year.
Transferring Money between Junior ISAs
The rules of Junior Individual Savings Accounts (ISA) allow money transfers between:
- The two different types of child Junior ISAs.
- A Child Trust Fund (CTF) account and a Junior ISA (the Junior ISA provider can arrange this).
But, you cannot transfer money from a Junior ISA to an adult Individual Savings Account. Even so, you can add cash investments to your child’s account if they move abroad.
Note: As a rule, money invested in a Junior ISA belongs to the child. They cannot access the money (withdraw it) until they reach 18 years old. Some exceptions apply for a terminal illness or if the child dies.
Managing a Child ISA Account
The policy of a child Junior ISA will get registered in their own name. But, the responsibility of managing the account rests with the parent who opened it. Thus, the parent or guardian would be the ‘registered contact’.
There are some things that only the registered contact can do or change (with the account provider) such as:
- Change the type of account (e.g. from a cash account to a stocks and shares Junior ISA).
- Make a change to a different account provider.
- Report a change of circumstances (e.g. a change of address).
Children Aged 16 or 17
Once the child turns the age of 16 they are then allowed to:
- Become the registered contact for their own Junior ISA.
- Open an adult cash Individual Savings Account.
Note: When the child reaches 18 years of age they can take out money from their own accounts. All Junior ISAs turn into an adult ISA by automatic process once the child turns 18 years old.
If the Child is Terminally Ill (or dies)
If the child becomes terminally ill, the registered contact can take money out of the Junior ISA. As a rule, the definition would be a disease or an illness that is going to worsen. The expectation would be for the child not to live longer than six (6) months.
Taking Money Out of an ISA
HMRC need to confirm whether you can take money out of your child’s Junior ISA. Filling in the terminal illness early access form will let HM Revenue and Customs know that:
- The child has a terminal illness.
- You want to withdraw money from the child’s Junior ISA.
If the Child Dies
Any money in the account gets paid to whoever inherits the estate if the child dies. Thus, the usual rules of wills, probate, and inheritance apply. In most cases, it would be one of the child’s parents. But, if the policy holder is 16 or older, it could be their spouse if they got married.
If this happens, there would be no need to inform HMRC about the death of the child. But, you must inform the account provider so they can close all Junior ISAs of the child. They might ask for some proof before doing this (e.g. a copy of the death certificate).
Interest on Savings for Children
As a rule, there is no tax to pay on savings accounts for children. But, you must inform HMRC if the child ‘earns’ more than £100 in interest from money given by a parent (in the tax year).
You must also inform HMRC if a child gets an income over their Personal Allowance (e.g. from a trust). In this case, the child would have to pay the tax on it. The parent would need to pay tax on all the interest if goes above their own Personal Savings Allowance.
The £100 savings interest limit does not apply to money in a Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund or to money given by relatives, grandparents, or friends.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Become a Legal Parent | The process for becoming the legal parent of a child in the United Kingdom.
Parenting Rules | A section explaining the basics of parenthood and your legal rights of being a parent.