The latest statistics show more than 14 million Canadians hold Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) with a total value in excess of $276 billion1. It’s no wonder TFSAs are so popular with Canadians: They offer a tax-free method to save and invest for your financial goals — everything from your next vacation to retirement. The flexibility of a TFSA can be used to complement any financial strategy or as a stand-alone savings option.
There are many cool features TFSAs have that can benefit your finances. Here are five ways a TFSA may be able to help you accelerate your savings strategy.
1) They’re truly tax-free
The funds you contribute to your TFSA will be with after-tax dollars. However, as the name suggests, TFSAs are tax-free in that you won’t pay tax when your investments increase in value, nor will you pay tax when you choose to take money out.
2) TFSAs can hold most kinds of investments
TFSAs are flexible enough to hold a range of investments, including cash, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, bonds and GICs. One method to grow your TFSA is to take advantage of compound interest — that is, interest paid on both your principal investments and accrued interest. For example, some mutual fund investments, while they tend to fluctuate in the market, may provide the growth needed to achieve your financial goals over time, as opposed to cash which generates minimal growth in interest.
3) You never lose contribution room
One of the best features of a TFSA is that there’s no need to miss out if you are unable to use all of your annual contribution room.
The contribution limit for 2021 — as set by the federal government — is $6,000, but unused contribution room gets carried forward each year. In fact, if you were at least 18 years old and were eligible when the TFSA was introduced in 2009, you would have accumulated $75,500 in contribution room by 2021. That means, if you are unable to maximize your contribution in a particular year, you could make up those contributions later. And, if you choose to withdraw funds for any purpose, the amount you withdraw gets added to the next year’s contribution room. You can even recontribute amounts you have withdrawn in previous years and your contribution room carries forward indefinitely. Check with the CRA to see how much unused contribution room you may have.
4) You can save automatically
TFSAs are a great way to save money. But reaching the current $6,000 annual maximum with a lump sum contribution may be a challenge for some. Setting up regular contributions from a bank account to your TFSA through an automatic payment plan can help make it easier. That way, small contributions are made with less effort and can begin growing within your TFSA.
5) There’s no age limit on contributing
Unlike an RRSP, there is no age limit on how long you can hold a TFSA. By law, you have to be at least 18 to open a TFSA (though bank policies may require you to be the age of majority in the respective province or territory in which you reside) to begin contributing. However, once the account is opened, you can continue to make contributions for as long as you want. For investing purposes, this allows funds to continue to compound well into your senior years when you may have additional expenses such as health and long-term care. Moreover, TFSA contributions or withdrawals won’t affect any Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Old Age Security (OAS) payments you may be eligible to receive.
Saving money for your financial goals can be challenging when there are competing demands for your money. A TFSA allows you to contribute what you can, when you can, and catch up later if you don’t maximize your contributions. Opening and using your TFSA doesn’t have to be difficult. If you need some help, talk to your financial advisor.
If you would like to see how your money could grow inside a TFSA, use TD’s TFSA calculator.
- “Tax-Free Savings Account 2019 Statistics (2017 contribution year),” Statistics Canada, Feb. 3, 2020, accessed Oct. 2, 2020, canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/programs/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/income-statistics-gst-hst-statistics/tax-free-savings-account-statistics/tax-free-savings-account-statistics-2017-tax-year.html ↩