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YourMoney.com Mailbag: can I buy company shares for my boyfriend’s birthday?

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Written by: YourMoney.com
17/01/2018
Dear YourMoney.com, my boyfriend is Nike-obsessed and rather than buy him another pair of trainers for his birthday, I thought I’d get him some longer-lasting shares in the company. What do I need to know?

Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor, answers the question:

To present the shares to him, you’d need a share certificate, and while a Nike share certificate for a small number of shares may be a lovely present, it is likely to be a poor investment.

Nike is a US-listed company and the costs to buy and sell US share certificates can be very expensive (c.$40). US stocks can be held in an ISA or Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) if they are bought online, which would mean gains are tax free. But if they are held outside of a SIPP or ISA, you (or rather your boyfriend) will pay Capital Gains Tax on any profit if an individual has already exceeded the allowance of £11,300 for the 2017/18 tax year.

If your boyfriend’s a higher rate income taxpayer, he’ll pay 20% on gains. If he’s a basic rate taxpayer, he’ll pay 10% if it’s within the basic rate band and 20% on any amount above this.

Money laundering rules also mean you need to buy shares in your own name for an adult unless you have third party authority, which is unlikely in this case.

If your boyfriend already has an investment account, then there is a way to bypass the certificate option and just buy the Nike shares within the online account, though this would do away with the element of surprise of a birthday present.

Don’t forget that a W-8Ben form will need to be filled in to avoid paying unnecessary additional tax on US shareholdings. This form is a US tax document which allows UK residents to claim a reduction in the rate of withholding tax on foreign dividends from 30% to 15%, or to 0% if held in a SIPP. Essentially, it stops investors being taxed twice in full on the same dividend income.

If you really want to tap into investing in Nike, you could find a US or global equities fund and check the fact sheet to see if they have a holding in Nike. Some, like MI Metropolis Value and GAM Luxury Brands, both have significant holdings in Nike.

While the theory behind the present is lovely and Interactive Investor is a huge supporter of starter investors, this is one of those rare occasions where the trainers  may be a better option than the share certificate.

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