Why spread bets are a tax winner

Investors normally have to worry about three taxes on their transactions.

First off there’s income tax on dividends, bond coupons and interest. This is levied at rates up to 50% from this April for high earners.

Next there’s the tax on any trading profits, called capital gains tax. This is now charged at a flat rate of 18% of any gain (the difference between what you pay for an investment and what you eventually sell it for). However you do get the first £10,100 tax free as an annual allowance from HMRC.

Finally there’s the registration tax, stamp duty, levied at 0.5% on the buyer of shares.

The great news about spread bets is they are income and capital gains tax-free for investors (although watch out if you start doing it for a living as at that point you may be taxed on profits from your trading activities) plus they are exempted from stamp duty. All you have to worry about in cost terms is the commission you pay to your broker – i.e. the size of the bid to offer spread.


Claim your FREE report from MoneyWeek: An introduction to online trading, with tips & advice including:

  • Spread betting – The easy way to geared, tax-free returns
  • Forex trading- How to profit from currency movements

There is one drawback to spread bets being CGT free however. That is you can’t claim any relief for losses, as you would be able to if you sold say shares at a loss. That’s one reason some investors prefer contracts for difference (CFDs). These are similar to spread bets in many respects but are subject to capital gains tax and also attract loss relief when trades backfire.

MoneyWeek magazine

Latest issue:

Magazine cover
Heading higher?

Or are house prices set to fall?

The UK's best-selling financial magazine. Take a FREE trial today.
Claim 4 FREE Issues

'Would you rather upset God, or have Him just ignore you?'

In the first of three interviews with Merryn Somerset Webb, Hugh Hendry, manager of the Eclectica Fund, talks about what it takes to be a good hedge fund manager – and how he learned to stop worrying and love central banks.


Which investment platform?

When it comes to buying shares and funds, there are several investment platforms and brokers to choose from. They all offer various fee structures to suit individual investing habits.
Find out which one is best for you.


21 November 1969: The first permanent Arpanet link

A milestone in the formation of the internet, the first permanent Arpanet link was established on this day in 1969 between researchers in the United States.