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Mr A

Overview of ISAs

ISAs, or Individual Savings Accounts, are a popular tax-free savings vehicle in the United Kingdom. Introduced in 1999, they provide UK residents with an appealing way to invest and save without having to worry about paying tax on the interest, dividends, or capital gains generated within the account. There are currently four main types of ISAs available to UK residents:

  • Cash ISA
  • Stocks and Shares ISA
  • Innovative Finance ISA
  • Lifetime ISA

Throughout this article, we will focus primarily on Stocks and Shares ISAs, exploring the rules and regulations that govern the buying and selling of shares within an ISA. We'll also discuss the various investment options available, and the advantages and disadvantages of using an ISA to invest in shares.

Understanding Stocks and Shares ISAs

A Stocks and Shares ISA is designed for individuals who wish to invest in a range of stocks, bonds, and other eligible investments in a tax-efficient manner. The main benefits of investing within a Stocks and Shares ISA include:

  • No tax on capital gains
  • No tax on dividend income
  • Wider range of investment options
  • Easy accessibility for most UK residents

Each tax year, which runs from April 6th to April 5th of the following year, the UK government sets an annual ISA allowance that determines how much money you can invest in ISAs. For the 2021/2022 tax year, the current allowance is set at £20,000, which can be split across the different types of ISAs.

Can I Buy and Sell Shares Within an ISA?

The simple answer is yes, you can buy and sell shares within your Stocks and Shares ISA. This is one of the main reasons why many investors choose to utilize this type of account. You have the flexibility to enter and exit positions as you see fit, without the immediate tax implications that you might face with a regular investing account.

With that in mind, there are a few rules and regulations that you must follow when buying and selling shares within an ISA:

Rule 1: Eligible Investments

Not all shares are eligible to be held within a Stocks and Shares ISA. The UK government has outlined a set of rules concerning the types and locations of investments that are allowed. Some of the eligible investments include:

  • UK and European Economic Area (EEA) company shares traded on a recognised stock exchange
  • UK government bonds (gilts)
  • Corporate bonds
  • Investment trusts
  • Open-ended investment companies (OEICs)
  • Unit trusts
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Bear in mind that not all investment providers will offer the same range of eligible investments. It's essential to read the specific investment options provided by your chosen ISA manager before opening an account.

Rule 2: Annual ISA Allowance

As mentioned earlier, there is an annual ISA allowance set by the UK government. For the 2021/2022 tax year, this allowance is £20,000. This amount is the combined allowance for all the money you invest across all types of ISAs in a single tax year. Keep in mind that you can contribute to and invest in any combination of ISAs within this limit.

When buying shares within your ISA, remember that you cannot exceed this annual limit. Any amount invested over the £20,000 allowance will not receive the tax-free benefits of an ISA.

Rule 3: Buying and Selling Shares

The act of buying and selling shares within an ISA does not affect your annual allowance. In other words, if you sell shares worth £5,000 within your Stocks and Shares ISA, you do not automatically have the ability to contribute an additional £5,000 to your account.

If you have already used up your annual allowance, you cannot contribute more money to your ISA, even if you have sold shares within the account. Keep this in mind when making decisions about buying and selling shares, as it may affect your investment strategy.

Potential Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying and Selling Shares Within an ISA

There are both advantages and disadvantages to consider when buying and selling shares within a Stocks and Shares ISA:


  • Tax efficiency: The main advantage of an ISA is its tax-efficient nature. Capital gains and dividend income generated within your ISA are not subject to taxation, which allows your investments to grow without being hindered by taxes. This can help you achieve long-term financial goals more quickly.
  • Flexibility: Stocks and Shares ISAs generally offer a wide range of qualifying investments, offering you the flexibility to create a well-diversified portfolio tailored to your specific needs and risk tolerance.
  • Accessibility: ISAs are widely accessible to most UK residents over the age of 18, enabling the majority of the population to build an investment portfolio that benefits from tax efficiency.


  • Annual allowance limit: The £20,000 annual ISA allowance might be considered a disadvantage by some investors, particularly those who wish to invest larger sums of money within a tax-free environment. This limitation may result in having to make use of other investing accounts or alternatives such as SIPPs (Self-Invested Personal Pensions) in order to benefit from tax-efficiency on larger investment sums.
  • Eligible investments: As mentioned previously, not all shares and securities are eligible for holding within an ISA. Therefore, some investment opportunities may be unavailable to you if you are solely relying on a Stocks and Shares ISA to grow your wealth.
  • Fees: Depending on the ISA provider, you may encounter platform, advisor, or other account-related fees that could contribute to your costs when investing. It's crucial to research and compare providers before opening a Stocks and Shares ISA to ensure you select one with the most suitable fee structure for your needs.


In conclusion, yes, you can buy and sell shares within a Stocks and Shares ISA. The tax-efficient benefits, investment flexibility, and accessibility make ISAs an attractive option for UK residents looking to build a diverse portfolio. However, it's essential to understand the specific rules and regulations governing ISAs when it comes to eligible investments, the annual allowance, and the implications of buying and selling shares.

By having a clear understanding of how Stocks and Shares ISAs work, you can make more informed decisions about your investments and maximize the benefits of this tax-efficient investment account.

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