A Closer Look at Tax Free Saving Accounts

TFSAs are an excellent investment vehicle to save and grow money. With a sizeable contribution allowance and the ability to hold a wide range of investments, these savings accounts can be an excellent way for Canadians to save for their future. Here we will take a closer look at Tax-Free Savings Accounts and how they can benefit you.

What exactly is a TFSA?

A TFSA is a savings account that can help protect your future growth from income tax. Capital gains and dividends that are earned in a TFSA are not taxed, even when withdrawn.

How much can you contribute?

If you have never contributed before, by starting today you could contribute up to $52,000. The allowable contribution room is calculated per year and is indexed for inflation. Since the TFSA started in 2009, the contribution allowance has continued to grow each year.

Currently, the annual allowance is $5,500, whereas in 2009, when the TFSA was first introduced, it was $5,000. Any unused contributions can be carried forward and withdrawals result in new contribution room. When removing money from your TFSA you can add that amount back in the next year, plus the contribution amount for that year.

What are the conditions to opening a TFSA?

You must be 18 years of age and have a valid social insurance number to open a Tax-Free Savings Account.

What can I hold in a TFSA?

You can hold RRSPs, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, GICs, options, and more. One thing to remember is that the financial rules of these instruments will still apply within the TFSA. Take GICs, for instance. If you lock your money into the GIC you cannot remove it even within the TFSA. The advantage of saving in a TFSA is that you won’t have to pay capital gains taxes if you trade within the TFSA.

Where can I find my contribution allowance?

The Canadian Revenue Agency will place the next year’s allowable contribution amount on the notice of the assessment you receive after processing your tax return. Generally, this includes the amount for the year, any amount you removed last year, and any unused contribution amounts from the years before.

Can you transfer between TFSAs?

If you have more than one TFSA you can transfer funds between them without it affecting your TFSA contribution room. You cannot however, withdraw money from one TFSA and contribute it to another TFSA – this would not be considered as a transfer and would come with penalties if you exceed your contribution allowance for that year.

What are the penalties for over-contributing?

If you over-contribute, there will be a penalty subject to 1% per month of the excess amount until the amount is removed. If you are found to be deliberately over-contributing, then you can end up paying a 100% tax on any gains you make on this amount.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts can be an excellent investment tool to help you save for the future and meet your financial goals. Speak with your financial advisor about TFSAs and other tax planning strategies to increase your personal wealth and leave more money in your pocket.