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How to buy shares for children in 2023

Want to invest in the stock market for your kids? Keep reading to learn how to buy shares for children.

Many parents want to create a brighter financial future for their kids, with shares being a great way to help their children get ahead in life.

Even with the current volatile market, buying shares over the long term offer potentially higher returns than a bank account – albeit with a greater level of risk.

But buying shares for kids isn't as easy as you might think. Unfortunately, many brokers won't allow you to open an account for anyone under the age of 18. Add to it a complex tax environment mainly aimed at stopping adult investors from using their children to offset taxable income and suddenly, you have a lot to consider before you start investing for your children.

To help you out, Finder has come up with this handy guide for those looking to invest in the stock market for their kids.

Can children own shares?

If you're planning on buying a parcel of shares and giving them to your child straight away, it's not that easy. Most brokers won't allow you to buy shares in your child's name, even though the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) says it is possible for children to own shares.

High tax rates also apply on investment income (e.g. dividends) earned by minors, so you'll need to consider other options if you want to buy shares for your children.

Let's take a closer look at a few of the available choices.

Open a share trading account

The first option when you want to set up a stock portfolio for your children is to open an online share trading account. However, instead of opening the account in your child's name, you can open a "minor" account in your own name and act as a trustee.

Once your child turns 18, you can then transfer the shares into a brokerage account held in their name. The advantage of this approach is that capital gains tax typically won't apply when you transfer the shares to your child – the shares were always meant for them, so there's no change in beneficial ownership.

It's also easy to set up a trust account. With CommSec, for example, you can select "Trust" when choosing what type of account you'd like to open.

An alternative option is to simply invest in shares in your name via your own online trading account. Then, once your child reaches 18 years of age, you can transfer the shares to them via an off-market transfer – a private transaction that doesn't take place through the share market. However, you'll need to pay a fee that varies from approximately $25 to $60. Gifting shares is also classified by the tax office as a capital gains tax event.

Finder survey: How old were people when they first invested in the stock market?

I have never invested in the stock market46.6%28.39%
Under 181.99%2.23%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1145 Australians, December 2023

Compare share trading accounts

Name Product Price per trade Inactivity fee Asset class International
Finder AwardExclusive
US$10 per month if there’s been no log-in for 12 months
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get 12 months of investment tracking app Delta PRO for free when you fund your eToro account (T&Cs apply).
CFD service. Capital at risk.
Join the world's biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
CMC Invest
Finder Award
CMC Invest
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
$0 brokerage on US, UK, Canadian and Japanese markets (FX spreads apply).
Trade over 45,000 shares and ETFs from Australia and 15 major global markets. Plus, buy Aussie shares or ETFs for $0 brokerage up to $1,000 (First buy order of each security, each day - excludes margin loan settled trades).
Moomoo Share Trading
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: Get $100 to trade when you deposit $1,000, or $200 when you deposit $5,000 or more. Earn 6.8% p.a. on uninvested cash. T&Cs apply.
Trade shares on the ASX, the US markets and buy ETFs with Moomoo. Plus join a community over 20 million investors.
Tiger Brokers
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Finder exclusive: 10 no-brokerage US or ASX market trades in the first 180 days + 7% p.a. on uninvested cash with first deposit of any amount, plus US$30 TSLA + US$30 NVDA shares with deposits up to AU$2000. T&Cs apply.
Trade Australian, US and Asian stocks with no minimum deposit on Tiger Broker’s feature-packed platform.
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Get advanced research and trading tools with $0 brokerage and free lvl 2 NASDAQ stock data for 30 days. T&Cs apply.
Trade ASX and US stocks and US options, plus gain access to inbuilt news platforms and educational resources. You can also start trading for less with fractional shares.
Saxo Invested
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Access 22,000+ stocks on 50+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.

Important: The standard brokerage fee displayed is the trade cost for new customers to purchase $1,000 of either Australian or US shares. Where a platform charges different fees for both US and Australian shares we show the lower of the two. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

Name Product Fees Minimum Investment Investment product Number of Portfolios
Spaceship Voyager
$3 a month (on accounts over $100)
Stocks, Cash, ETFs
Invest in Australian shares, global shares and cash markets.
InvestSMART Robo Advice
From $55 /year
More Info
Super Obvious
Managed Fund
More Info
From $7 per month
Stocks, bonds, cash, ETFs
More Info
Bloom Impact
Shares, ETFs
More Info
Raiz Invest
Raiz Invest
From $4.50 /month
Invest in Australian and international stocks, fixed income/bonds and cash.
From $5.50 /month
From $0 /year
From $2/Month
Shares, ETFs, Managed Funds
More Info

Open a robo-advice account

If you're new to investing or just want to take more of a hands-off approach, you may want to sign up for an account with a robo-advice service. Robo-advisors are essentially digital investment advisers that automatically manage your investments on your behalf based on your appetite for risk and financial goals.

Once again, it's possible to use a robo-advice service to invest on your child's behalf. The investments are held in your name for legal and tax purposes, but you act as a trustee for your child until they turn 18.

Of course, you'll need to consider any monthly or annual fees the robo-advisor charges as well as whether there's a minimum investment limit. Check out our comprehensive guide to robo-advisors for more information.

Set up a trust

For some parents, the best approach may be to set up a discretionary family trust. The trust then purchases shares, ETFs or other investments and your kids can be made beneficiaries of the trust.

Setting up a trust can provide tax benefits, but it can also be a complicated and expensive exercise. For most mum and dad investors who are creating an investment plan for their children, other approaches are simpler and more affordable.

However, if you think a trust could be worthwhile, contact your accountant or financial adviser for details on how to get started.

How to gift shares to children

Another option is to build an investment portfolio in your own name and then gift those shares to your children once they turn 18. Your child can then hold the shares in an account in their own name or cash out the investments to spend the money elsewhere.

If you're considering this approach, it's a good idea to check with your broker to find out the process you'll need to complete to transfer shares to your child. Some brokers make it as simple as filling out an online form.

But remember to check the fees and capital gains tax. For example, if you're paying $3 in monthly fees on a birthday gift of $100 for the child, you'll have paid a third in fees or $36 by the time your child's next birthday has come around.

To find out more, see our buying shares as a gift guide.

Buy insurance bonds for children

Insurance bonds, also known as investment bonds, are offered by insurance companies and friendly societies. These long-term investments are similar to super funds and they combine an investment portfolio and a life insurance policy in a single package.

You can nominate the date when ownership of the bond is transferred to your child while investments within the bond are taxed at a rate of 30%. And if you hold the bond for at least 10 years without making any withdrawals, no further tax applies when you do decide to withdraw the funds. However, you will need to be aware of annual investment management fees.

Tax implications when investing for children

As you've no doubt gathered by now, there are many tax implications to consider no matter which investment option you select for your kids.

The person that owns and controls the shares must declare any dividends as well as capital gains and losses from share sales to the ATO. But it's worth noting that the ATO has rules in place to stop parents from trying to dodge their tax responsibilities by hiding investments in their child's name.

As a result, if your child holds shares in their name and earns more than $416 in investment income during a financial year, you'll need to lodge a tax return on their behalf. Unfortunately, they can be taxed at the highest current tax rate.

If a parent owns the shares in their own name or if the parent invests as a trustee, they must declare dividend payments and capital gains tax events on their own tax return. With this in mind, it's a good idea for couples to put any such investments in the lower-income earner's name.

Buying shares for children is a great way to help provide a more secure financial future for your kids, but it's also complicated. It's well worth seeking advice from an accountant to help you compare and choose investment options for your children.

To find out more, see the tax office's guide to paying taxes for children under 18. When in doubt, you should always speak to a trusted industry professional.

Frequently asked questions


Written by

Tim Falk

Tim Falk is a writer for Finder, writing across a diverse range of topics. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, Tim has reported on everything from travel and personal finance to pets and TV soap operas. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors. See full profile

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