Easy, flexible saving for different goals

What is a TFSA?

Like the RRSP, the TFSA is a registered account developed to help Canadians save. While TFSAs can be used to save for and during retirement, the rules are different, making TFSAs useful for short-term savings goals such as family vacations, and for longer-term goals such as purchasing a new car or home renovations.

How it works

Contributions – Canadians 18 and older can contribute annually to their TFSA.  The contribution limit is set annually and is $5,500 for 2016 and is subject to increase periodically based on inflation and rounded to the nearest $500. Unlike RRSP contributions, TFSA contributions are not deductible for income tax purposes. But any investment income earned on those contributions is free of tax. Unused contribution amounts can be carried forward to future years and prior-year unused contributions may still be used.

Withdrawals – You can withdraw any amount from a TFSA at any time and for any purpose without paying tax. You can also put that money back into your TFSA, although you must wait until the next calendar year.

Where should I save?

Each of the account types below has a role to play in helping you meet your short- and long-term financial needs. Which one you choose depends on your circumstances.

 TFSARRSPSavings Account
What is the account for?General savings, retirement savings, home purchase, continuing educationRetirement savings, home purchase, continuing educationGeneral savings
How much can I contribute?Up to $5,500 per year in 2016Up to 18% of the income you earned in the previous year (up to a maximum of $25,370 in 2016) No limit
Can I delay contributions until a later date? Yes. Unused contribution room can be carried forward.Yes. Unused contribution room can be carried forward.There is no contribution limit.
Can I deduct contributions from my income tax?NoYes. An RRSP contribution can reduce the income tax you pay.No
What can I invest in?You can choose from a wide range of investments.You can choose from a wide range of investments.Your financial institution pays interest on the money in your account – currently at historically low rates.
Will my investments be taxed as they grow?NoNoYes
Will I be taxed when I withdraw money?NoYes, on both your original contributions and the money you’ve earned. However, by the time you withdraw money from your RRSP, your income may be lower, so you'll be taxed at a lower rate.No
Can I re-contribute amounts that I withdraw?Yes, you can contribute amounts withdrawn in future years .Yes, if you have available contribution room in the year you wish to re-contribute . Yes
At what age can I start saving?18Any ageAny age
When do I have to cash out?No requirementIn general, your RRSP must be converted to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), annuity or other income option at age 71, and you must make minimum taxable withdrawals. You can also simply de-register your RRSP savings, although this may result in unwanted tax consequences. No requirement
Will cashing out affect any of my government benefits?No, because TFSA withdrawals don’t count as income. Maybe, because RRSP withdrawals count as income. The extra income could reduce the amount you get from some “income-tested” benefits. No, because withdrawals don’t count as income.

For more information

TFSA Brochure

Government of Canada website