Should I contribute to a TFSA, RRSP or both?
Should I contribute to a TFSA, RRSP or both?
With the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) available for saving in a tax-free environment, does it still make sense to contribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)?
RRSPs can work well if you contribute while you are in a high tax bracket and withdraw when in a lower tax bracket. You can generate a higher net rate of return with an RRSP when the effective tax rate at the time of withdrawal is lower than the effective tax rate at the time of contribution. A TFSA can provide a higher return if the reverse occurs.
For example, if you contribute $1,000 to an RRSP when you are in a 20 per cent tax bracket, your net cost is $800 after the tax savings. If you are in the same tax bracket when you make a withdrawal from your RRSP, your net withdrawal will be equal to your net cost after paying the taxes ($800). However, if you are in a higher tax bracket when you make the withdrawal, say 40 per cent, then your net withdrawal will only be $600 after the taxes are paid (assuming market is flat and there is no return).
TFSA, RRSP OR BOTH?
A TFSA can be an ideal savings vehicle if you are in a low income tax bracket. RRSPs may not be well suited to low income Canadians. The RRSP tax savings are insignificant and you may be in a higher tax bracket when you make withdrawals, as the earlier example demonstrates. You may also want to consider that TFSA withdrawals do not impact income tested benefits and credits, such as child tax benefits and credits, Old Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
If you now find yourself in a lower tax bracket, such as when on maternity leave, and have made RRSP contributions in the past, you may want to consider withdrawing from your RRSP to make a TFSA contribution. However, remember that funds withdrawn from your RRSP cannot be re-contributed at a later date.
One strategy would be to contribute to your TFSA now and accumulate RRSP room to be used later when in a higher tax bracket to optimize the tax benefits.
This is a situation where you may want to maximize both your RRSP and TFSA contributions. In fact, the tax savings or refund received from the RRSP contribution could be used to fund the TFSA.
YOU MAY WANT TO RETHINK YOUR HOME BUYERS PLAN SAVINGS
If you are saving for a down payment on a house, a TFSA might be a better option than saving in an RRSP and withdrawing under the Home Buyers Plan (HBP). There are several reasons for this.
■ The flexibility to recontribute the TFSA withdrawal without time limits.1 If HBP repayments are not made on time, the annual repayment amount is added into your income and any missed repayment amount means the RRSP room is lost forever
■ There is no restriction on how much you can withdraw from your TFSA while the HBP restricts you to $25,000 from each your RRSP and your spouses RRSP. Alternatively, you could each contribute $5,000 a year for 5 years to a TFSA and then withdraw $25,000 plus any investment earnings tax free and with no required repayments
■ There are no conditions on TFSA withdrawals, whereas the HBP requires you to be a first time home buyer.
Similar logic could be applied to the Life Long Learning Plan. By using a TFSA to save and fund continuing education, contributors can gain increased withdrawal flexibility while eliminating any enrollment requirements or repayment conditions.
Whether to save in a TFSA, RRSP or both may depend on your savings needs, your eligibility for income tested benefits and your current and expected future financial situation and income level.
1 Amounts withdrawn in a taxation year will be reflected in contribution room in the following year.
Article courtesy of Manulife Financial and should not be relied upon for investment or tax advice. It is recommended to speak to a financial planner to review your particular situation.
OSFI tightens mortgage rules Edit
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) published the final version of Guideline B-20 Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures. The revised Guideline, which comes into effect on January 1, 2018, applies to all federally regulated financial institutions.
The changes to Guideline B-20 reinforce OSFIs expectation that federally regulated mortgage lenders remain vigilant in their mortgage underwriting practices. The final Guideline focuses on the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages, expectations around loan-to-value (LTV) frameworks and limits, and restrictions to transactions designed to circumvent those LTV limits.
OSFI is setting a new minimum qualifying rate, or stress test, for uninsured mortgages.
Guideline B-20 now requires the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.
OSFI is requiring lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) measurement and limits so they will be dynamic and responsive to risk.
Under the final Guideline, federally regulated financial institutions must establish and adhere to appropriate LTV ratio limits that are reflective of risk and are updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve.
OSFI is placing restrictions on certain lending arrangements that are designed, or appear designed to circumvent LTV limits.
A federally regulated financial institution is prohibited from arranging with another lender a mortgage, or a combination of a mortgage and other lending products, in any form that circumvents the institutions maximum LTV ratio or other limits in its residential mortgage underwriting policy, or any requirements established by law.
To find out how this will affect you, please contact me at anytime.
Easy ways to keep more money in your pocket
It goes without saying that most of us would appreciate a little more money in our pockets. Believe it or not, its actually an achievable goal. In fact, a few simple tips can help you uncover meaningful savings each and every month. Need some ideas? Heres a little inspiration to get you started:
1. Pack food from home for lunches and snacks. Skip sandwich bags and opt for reusable containers, cutlery and drink bottle.
2. Switch light bulbs to CFLs. On average, it costs $250 a year in energy costs to light your home with incandescents. Save $150 by going with CFLs. Theyre more expensive initially, but will last 10 times longer.
3. Review and negotiate your service plansphone, internet, cable and television content.
4. Invest in topping up your insulation. Attic insulation can settle and compact over time, diminishing its original R-value and increasing heating/cooling costs. Topping it up with a quality batt insulation, like Roxul Comfortbatt, will immediately help improve the comfort of your home and reduce your monthly energy bills.
5. Pay off credit card debt and swap cards for lower interest rate options.
6. Install low-flow water fixtures to cut down on excess water consumption.
7. Lower your thermostat by two degrees in cold weather and increase it by two degrees in warmer weather.
8. Launder your clothes in cold water and at off-peak times.
9. Avoid impulse shopping. Stick to your list and avoid window shopping, which tends to draw buyers in.
10. Save money on entertainment by looking for free activities. For options in your area, try a simple internet search. You might be pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of activities and entertainment available for no or low cost.
Collectively employing the tips above could potentially add up to thousands in annual savings, proving that sometimes change can be a good thing.